Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I am f*cking depressed’ edition

  • The above video of some beagles who have lived in wire cages as test dogs for their entire lives. They have never been outside, felt the sun or the grass beneath their feet. The fact that something like this exists in our world is so fucking disturbing. Are there not laws that mandate how animals must be treated? It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch these dogs take their first steps on grass! One dog actually falters because he doesn’t know how to walk outside of a cage. I know that I am going to research every product I use and make another choice if it is tested on animals. I urge you all to do the same.
  • Still on the animal front, I posted this blog from SAINTS yesterday on Twitter and Facebook. Carol highlights animals who ended up at SAINTS in spite of being a loved and desired pet. Minnie Pearl is a dog who ended up at SAINTS because her family had a divorce and when she could no longer be used as a pawn in the battle she was dumped. Here’s the thing people – if you go out and get that cute puppy, kitten or other animal you must make a commitment to that animal for the rest of its life. If you don’t think you can do this then get a virtual pet. Live animals require care and sacrifice. If you are thinking about adding a companion animal to your family please find one at a shelter or rescue.
  • Now we will move on to people. It is unfathomable that in 2011, in a fully developed country like Canada we have the Red Cross going into the Aboriginal village of Attawapiskat to provide direct relief! Then, in typical paternal fashion, the Federal government is appointing a third-party administrator. Seriously folks our paternalistic attitudes towards First Nations is the reason things are so bad. First Nations must be given the resources they need embrace their culture and thrive. In order to this though they require appropriate housing and a predictable source of income. There are so many examples of First Nations succeeding when they are given control of the economic levers. Paternalism will never succeed and gives us things like Residential Schools.
  • Oh and I failed miserably at NaBloPoMo this year!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I can’t believe it’ edition

  • Clearly I have failed at NaBloPoMo this year. I have been finding crocheting in the evening much more relaxing than blogging. In fact, I am almost reaching a meditative state in the repetition of stitches and counting to ten. It is a good thing. Although I am a little concerned about the afghan I am attempting to finish my mom. I am worried it is going to shed for quite some time after I give it to her. It seems to be a magnet for pug hair!
  • I am not to sure wtf is up with the Christy Clark government and not funding the HEAT shelters this year. Apparently, according to Rich Coleman, the minister (ir)responsible argues that enough social housing units have been created that the HEAT shelters are no longer needed. What a load of political BS. He is delusional. The only reason there may be been fewer visible homeless on Vancouver’s streets is because some of them were camping out at Occupy Vancouver. Now that OV has packed up from the art gallery lawn it will be interesting to see what happens. As well, just because some of the homeless have been housed doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer numbers. With gentrification and the lack of resources to keep hard to house people housed the numbers of homeless people increase all the time. There are still plenty of people losing their homes.
  • With the recent loss of Molly we now have no incontinent dogs in our house for the first time in about 10 years. Clio was never reliably toilet trained and often had accidents. Zoe has had accidents as well however if we consistently put her out 4 times a day she is unlikely to pee in the house. Deb went to mop something up the other day and the bucket was actually dry! I am thinking we will no longer need to have full mop buckets in 2 locations in the house.


A little downward dog

We lost Molly yesterday. She was a really good dog. She came to us in April of 2007 from SAINTS. She had just had all of her teeth removed and was known her stretches. Everyone called it her the Pilates Queen. She also completely ran the show here when we had 11 dogs. They all thought she was crazy as she would bark, growl and snarl at them if they came anywhere near her.

Talk to the paw

Molly thrived here. Even though she had no teeth she insisted that she too would eat raw. We are not talking ground raw (although she did eat some of that) she wanted to eat the chicken legs and other assorted pieces of raw meaty bones. At the beginning we would feed her high quality wet food, which she would eat and then she would go and steal something from Clio the blind dog.  Eventually we dumb humans figured it out. She could strip a raw chicken leg in under 10 minutes.

Molly really didn’t bond with many of the dogs here. She did however adore Clio. I think Molly liked Clio because she was blind and she moved slowly and posed no threat to her. They were often seen cuddled together. When Madison was alive she would cuddle with the 2 of them as well.

Molly continued to do her ‘pilates’ here for the whole time. She also added to the repertoire with ‘yoga’ poses including downward dog and something I liked to call the frog. Molly thrived on attention and she loved to put on a show

Molly was quite healthy for the past 4.5 years. She did have a collapsing trachea, which got progressively worse. This week her heart started to fail and she couldn’t keep going. She has left a big hole.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘saner heads are prevailing’ edition

  • It seems like the judge presiding over the City of Vancouver’s application for an injunction to end the Occupy Vancouver protest. Addressing the City’s safety concerns while still maintaining the protestors right to protest.
  • We are still under plumbing construction. The driveway is still a mess. We are waiting for the engineer apparently.
  • I am in way too much pain to write much more today. Catch you all tomorrow!

Police Violence at Occupy Vancouver

First off, I am going to apologize for my singular focus of late. However, I am extremely concerned about what it is happening at the Occupy Vancouver protest. Specifically, the abuse of authority and the wanton disregard for civil and democratic rights to free speech are making me ashamed to be Canadian. Regardless of who is doing it, people have the right to assemble and protest. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not say people can assemble as long as there are no propane heaters.

The violence last night was completely unacceptable. Perhaps they shouldn’t have lit a ‘sacred fire.’ However, the overreaction belongs solely to the VPD. I think they are determined to make sure there is not another riot but there actions are actually setting the stage for a riot.

The City of Vancouver needs to back off its plan to dismantle the camp. The more they push the issue, the more public opinion is going to turn against them. If they are concerned about liability, they could have the occupiers sign releases and let them govern themselves.

Change in language alters opinions: Lessons in discourse from the Occupy Movement

I noticed there was a change in the language as it relates to the Occupy Vancouver protest today. Up until now the individuals at the site had been referred to as ‘protesters’ or ‘occupiers.’ Today the language shifted to now refer to them as ‘campers.’ Calling them campers completely undermines their purpose in protesting and occupying in the various cities.

Since the death of Occupier Ashley over the weekend the City of Vancouver has completely changed their message and tone. On Friday Robertson said that they had no intention of moving against the Occupiers. While they were citing some safety concerns identified by the fire department they were prepared to work with them to clean up the site. Now Robertson is talking about severe ‘life safety’ issues at the site. When he was on CBC’s afternoon show ‘On the Coast’ this afternoon, Stephen Quinn pointed out that the encampment is not much different now than it was at the beginning and that he did not really understand why they had such an issue with the protest now. Robertson had no real answer except to claim those ‘life safety’ issues again.

The city is being even cagier about this protest. In light of the municipal election, Vision Vancouver does not want to be seen as being against the issues the Occupiers are raising. After all, Vision Vancouver is really trying to court that left of centre vote. So Gregor, as mayor, ends up talking out of both sides of his month. On the one hand he is saying the ‘campers’ have to go and then he says that the city will make a stage and PA system available for the protestors to continue the movement. What Gregor Robertson doesn’t get is that he cannot have it both ways. If he moves to clear out the Occupiers he most certainly lose votes.

Clearly the Occupy movement is about much more than camping. However, the act of occupying public space is fundamental to the movement. If they are to make progress on their issues they must be in public space. What the Occupy movement must do is craft the message; they must be in control of the language or they risk having their mission degraded by others.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘is there a funny movie out there?’ edition

  • I love Steve Carrel. However, I seem unable to find a funny movie he is in except for Little Miss Sunshine. Seriously, I have rented several of his movies lately and none of them have been remotely funny. What is up with this? Does anyone have a recommendation for a funny movie that does not rely on misogyny or toilet humour?
  • The death of Occupier Ashley yesterday at Occupy Vancouver is very sad. However, I think it is disingenuous of the City to now say the encampment must go. Drug overdoses and fatalities as they go are normal for Vancouver. Ashley died in a tent rather than a back alley. What the Occupy Vancouver movement must do is set up a supervised drug using area to minimize the risks of drug use. Trying to force the protestors out is going to result in violence.
  • I have often wondered what it is about Vancouver that causes everything to be taken to an extreme. There are Occupy encampments in countless cities yet the only one (that I am aware of) to have a death is Vancouver. It seems that the most bizarre things happen in Vancouver.

Why the Occupy Everywhere Movement might just work

The Occupy Everywhere movement seems to be gaining a lot of strength as the weeks of occupation go on. This week has seen various demands made of Occupy Vancouver protesters to clean up the camp and remove tarps that the fire department has determined are a hazard to first responders. I find it interesting that the Occupy Vancouver protesters have declared the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery is an autonomous zone wherein they will not recognize the authority of government officials. They have decided they will allow government officials to ‘advise’ them only if they go through the proper protocols.[1] Apparently the General Assembly (GA) has ‘consensed’[2] on this issue.

The movement is an interesting protest concept. By bringing together environmentalists, social activists, legal activists, and anti-globalization protesters the movement may actually have a chance at succeeding on some levels. If the movement is to be successful at any level they must continue long enough to substantially change the discourse. Educating the public about the issues must begin to inform politics at every level. The issues span all three levels of government. Substantive change will occur once political parties and candidates see value[3] in the protesters’ ideas.

We are seeing the effects of the Occupy movement on the civic election campaign in Vancouver. Lines have been drawn between the main mayoralty candidates incumbent Gregor Robertson and Suzanne Anton. Anton attempted to have the Occupiers given a deadline to de-camp that did not gain any traction at Vancouver City Council. Robertson actually has it correct on this issue – he realizes that bringing down the power of the City to remove the tent city will not work. Further there will be violence and the movement will gain more traction with larger tent cities springing up. I do worry about what might happen if Suzanne Anton wins the election.

Here is an excerpt from the Occupy Vancouver movement explaining why they are occupying:

Occupy Vancouver, in solidarity with other city occupations, has come together to transform the unequal, unfair, and growing disparity in the distribution of power and wealth in our city and around the globe. We challenge corporate greed, corruption, and the collusion between corporate power and government, and oppose systemic inequality, militarization, environmental destruction and the erosion of civil liberties and human rights. We seek economic security, genuine equality, and the protection of the environment for all.


[1] Apparently they must approach the committee that makes suggestions for the agenda at the daily ‘General Assembly’ where they may be assigned a time slot on the agenda.

[2] ‘Consensed’ is a neologism meaning that the group has reached consensus.

[3] Value in the political sense means that political parties see making these changes as a means to gain political power.

Ongoing plumbing saga

It has now been 2 weeks and the plumbing contractors are still not done. The driveway is a mess so we have to access the house by going across the lawn, which is a dangerous wet mess. Plus some of our trees are a bit out of control so it resembles bushwhacking in some places.

I am also getting increasingly frustrated, as the demands of the district seem outrageous. With the new system, everything flows into a holding tank. The tank has a pump so that it can move the sewage out as we have zero gravity here. The pump has to be on an alarm in case it dies. Today I find out that we also need a freaking generator for the pump in case the power goes out! Oh and don’t forget the fact that we had to have an engineer sign off on the whole project.

I sometimes wonder if city councils are in collusion with contractors to make things cost as much as much as possible so that everyone makes money. I just don’t understand why such a simple thing costs so much money. Le sigh.

A Duty to Come Out

Jian Ghomeshi started a debate on Tuesday on Q about whether LGB people have a responsibility to come out and act as role models. The debate was in response to Rick Mercer’s rant last week about the suicide of James Hubley. In his rant, Rick told gay people that they had an obligation to come out so they could be role models for youth. Interestingly, Mercer was chastised for not overtly coming out overtly in his rant. He responded asking how many times does a man have to come out before it sticks. I have never heard Mercer come out. However, I did think he included himself in the group responsible for providing role models.

I agree with Mercer. I have always argued that LGB adults have an obligation to be role models. We need to be out publicly. The more public our role, the more people we come into contact with, the more obligation we have to be out. I understand that for many people there may be a price but the ironic thing is that when you come out and remove the power and the fear things will generally work out fine. There is power in numbers – the more of us who stand up and come out the fewer stigmas there will be over time.

I do not, however, support outing.[1] I think people need to be in a place where they feel comfortable coming out. I just hope they do it sooner rather than later.

[1] That’s not entirely true. I support outing politicians who are gay and who actively do things to harm the LGB community. Particularly those politicians who are engaging in homosexual sex covertly.