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!

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.

The power of a word

Words carry a great deal of power. This is particularly true when you are talking about words that are misogynistic. The case in point today: the word ‘chick’ used to describe a woman. Whenever I see women referred to as ‘chicks’ or ‘broads’ or any other derogatory term, I am disgusted. These words are symptoms of the patriarchy and the misogyny that fuels it. These words are all part of a systemic level of discrimination against women.

Misogynistic words form the foundation of the rape culture[1] that exists in our society. When children learn that it is ok to refer to women in such derogatory ways a very clear message is sent. Boys learn that they are better than girls and that really girls can be equated with young barnyard animals. Girls learn that they will not receive the respect they deserve and that they are not equal. This creates a power differential that allows women to be criticized on every front.

Quite often when I confront these things I am told that I am being too politically correct. What garbage! Our culture is rife with misogyny. If I pointed every incident of misogyny I would never have anything else to do. Use of this language by men who believe they are enlightened is even more disturbing.

When confronted, these misogynists will argue that none of their other female friends found it offensive. This argument is a complete non-starter. Perhaps they don’t respond because they don’t want to experience the same abuse I get when I say something.

There is a solution to this problem. It begins with children. It requires that adults not refer to women in derogatory ways. Children pick this up and then they feel free to do it themselves. It is never acceptable to refer to a woman as a ‘chick.’

[1] Check out this link.

How not to plan a riot

The reports are coming in and still no one is really taking responsibility for the riot. Not the people who authorized and set up the big screen TVs in so-called ‘Fan Zones’ nor the people who should have been monitoring the number of people in downtown. The Mayor, Gregor Robertson, has nothing to say but that isn’t new. He ducks responsibility every chance he gets.[1] Chief Jim Chiu is not saying he had anything to do with it. So that really leaves the average citizen wondering how the hell things could go so wrong and no one took notice. I mean it is not like Game 7 Stanley Cup riots are new to Vancouver. It was apparent probably by the end of the 1st period of that game that things were not going to end well for the Canucks and their legions of fans; many of who were already on the ground in downtown Vancouver and inebriated. The only things everyone can agree on so far are that there was too much alcohol and Translink did a really good job of bringing people downtown.

So for free, Dispatches from the Swamp, will provide a report on how not to plan a riot. So here we go:

  1. Know whom you are inviting into the city – Canucks fans are mostly straight, white men between 15-50 years old.[2] Of those fans, a subset of younger fans, particularly in the 18-30 year range who will show up for a party at a fan zone. Anybody with half a brain cell knows that when you add alcohol and disappointment to this group of people and the mob mentality takes over you will have trouble. It is not that they set out to riot but they were all ramped up by all the media attention the game was getting. There was so my hype I wanted to hurl on a regular basis.
  2. We know that Vancouver downtown is surrounded by water on most sides. This makes it very difficult for people who want to get out of the city quickly. If 150,000+ people descend on a cramped space it is virtually impossible to move them all out in a reasonable amount of time. If there are ever fan zones set up again, they should be done in a secured area where access can be controlled and people can easily exit. People can be searched for alcohol and denied entry if they are intoxicated.
  3. We all know that people come from all over the lower mainland to celebrate hockey. There must be a coordinated police force made up of officers from all jurisdictions to ensure public safety. Then set up a fan zone in a big field somewhere like a large concert and emphasize security.
  4. Maybe even having an altered fan zone is not really appropriate for a do or die situation like Game 7 of the Stanley cup. Vancouver experienced another riot in the same circumstances. Why anyone thought this would not end badly is beyond me.

My last question is: Where are the Canucks in all of this? Wouldn’t you think that as a professional sports organization they could say something to their fans? I think they have a civic responsibility to encourage their fans to behave more appropriately while they are playing. If the Canucks do not do anything about this riot, I think they should be fined to help offset clean up costs for the city.

The provincial government also bears responsibility. The City of Vancouver asked for some financial help with the Stanley Cup playoffs policing efforts and the province did not assist. This clearly was a regional event rather than just a City of Vancouver event and as such the province should have done something.

Unless the various levels of government, the VPD and the Canucks get their shit together we may well have a ‘threepeat’ next year. Everyone must look at their roles in this completely predictable and avoidable event and ensure it does not happen again.


[1] For example the Pandora fires that killed 3 homeless men just before Christmas is a shining example of Gregor at his finest.

[2] I know I am generalizing and not every fan is a white straight man.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘they are full of sh*t’ edition

  • First things first – Piper is home and she is fine. She was ecstatic to see us this morning at Can-West. She pulled like a tank all the way to the car. We have switched her over to a harness. It was a good thing we brought one with us as they had one for us to buy. When we dropped her off yesterday we paid 75% of the high estimate. We got money back today! I am sure that rarely happens. Piper is on tramadol for 5 days. She has to go on leashed walks only for 3 weeks. We are so relieved that this surgery is behind us. The surgeon said she has a good prognosis but she will still be a noisy breather. We like her little noises and she will probably still snore.
  • Back again to the HST. The whole thing is making me MENTAL! The latest is that the BC Liberals are saying that it will take 18 months to implement the PST. Oh, and apparently, 18 months is aggressive. I think they are full of shit. First of all they say it is going to take the feds 10 months to change the legislation and the rules. How? Why? All the feds need to do is repeal the BC portion of the HST. They have nothing to do with PST. The province is saying that they have to wait for this to happen. Even if this was true, which I doubt, they could work with them to get going on it much sooner. Plus there should be no change to the rules as they are to revert back to the same system prior to the HST implementation. The second reason they cite is that they will need all new computer systems to go back to the PST. Now, seriously people, are we to believe that the current computers that calculate the HST cannot calculate the PST? They also need brand new software, which they must either build or buy. What is wrong with the old software? Third they claim that they need all this time to educate businesses about how to collect the ‘decades old’ tax. Clearly this is spurious. If they could ‘train’ all the businesses in the province for the HST in a year why do they need much more time for the PST training? I think the real reason is that they want to suck as much money out of us as they can. I think most people are astute enough to know exactly what is going on and hopefully the BC Liberals are punished at the polls.
  • Listening to the news today we were appalled to hear that the cougar that attacked the child in Pacific Rim Park is going to be found and killed. I don’t understand why they have to kill the cougar. I am sure they can find an island where they cougar can live out its life. We encroach on their habitat and then kill them when they do what comes naturally to them.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it’s over’ edition

  • Piper had her surgery early this afternoon. She pulled through like a trooper. She only needed to have some of her soft palate cut away. There could have 3 other things that needed to be done but we caught it early before a lot of damage was done to the rest of her throat tissues. She is at Can-West for tonight and we will be able to pick her up tomorrow if all goes well. I was quite confident with the surgeon although he has some outdated ideas about feeding raw food. I am so tired of hearing that dogs can’t handle food with a little salmonella or E. Coli on it. However, as Deb astutely noticed there was an anatomy book there published by Hill’s the makers of Science Diet.
  • I will be so glad when the whole HST thing is over. SFU economics professor, Krishna Pendakur, was on the radio for a call in show. He was extremely biased towards keeping the HST and made sure everyone knew how stupid he thought we all were for choosing the PST. I get that there are arguments why the HST is better i.e. it is a value added tax but the public made a democratic decision. It is over now they lost. I answered every single question he did without the bias. I am not an economist[1] and I have not done a great deal of research about the HST. I am just one of those dumb members of the public who shouldn’t be allowed to decide tax policy. Give me a break.
  • There are some seriously impressive women playing hockey for 10 days, 24 hours a day. They are playing in 4-hour blocks all day and night. Why are they doing this? They are raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. When I first heard that Dr. Beth from NTBTWK was doing this I was seriously impressed. Then I started thinking about other fundraisers where women perform amazing feats of physical endurance. I know someone who did the walk to end women’s cancers – 60 km a day, in the blazing heat for 2 days. What possess women to do these things? Sure the have been some great feats by men like Terry Fox and Rick Hanson running and wheeling across Canada respectively. However it does seem to be women who make these incredible commitments. If you haven’t donated please think about doing it.

[1] I’m an historian by training. I hate economics.

Great Day for Democracy

I am very pleased that BC voters have overturned the HST. The tax, which was implemented without any notice to BCers, was universally hated and had become a beacon of BC Liberal arrogance. In their paternalistic fashion they imposed the tax on us while telling us that it will create jobs and be a ‘revenue neutral’ tax. Most people in the province can do basic math and wondered if they were now paying 7% more for services how on earth could the tax be revenue neutral?

I heard Kevin Falcon on the radio and he was contrite about the results. He actually admitted that they made an error in how they implemented the tax and he felt that the results, in essence, were a slap on the wrist for the BC Liberal Party. He said that it will take 15 months to 2 years to revert back to the PST, GST situation. I am not clear why it would take that long maybe they are hoping to make up some of that 1.6 billion they now have to pay back to the feds.

One of the things that has bothered me throughout this whole campaign and now the results is that the government and the pro-HST business alliances[1] they seem to think voters are stupid. Repeatedly today I kept hearing that tax policy is too complicated for the average voter and that we should not be deciding tax policy by referendum. The BC Liberals showed complete contempt for the voters when they introduced it 3 months after an election. Regardless what the pro-HST forces said the tax was not good for BC. It hit largely services like restaurants and personal care services with an extra 7%. To say that it would not negatively impact families is bogus – almost everyone needs a haircut or wants to eat out now and then. They also never adequately explained how the HST created jobs. They just kept repeating it hoping that repetition is emphasis and we would all just believe it. I still do not know how the HST was supposed to neither create jobs nor, now, kill jobs. The public was not at all stupid – they understood the question.

Now we will have to contend with paying the feds back. Personally, I think the BC Liberal party should have to start fundraising for that but I know it will be us, the lowly taxpayer, who will repay it. The BC Liberals should have put that money aside and not spent it once the opposition to the HST began to heat up. They should have never underestimated Bill Vander Zalm; he has populism down to a science.

The terms of the referendum demand that the sales tax situation in BC be returned to what it was prior to July 1, 2010. I suspect the BC Liberals will introduce changes to increase the reach of the PST as soon as they think they can get away with it. Oh, and wait, what’s that sound? It is the sound of the air being let out of the tires of Christy Clarke’s surprise election call for the fall. She would likely lose.

Childhood Dieting

We have known the dangers of childhood dieting for a very long time. Restricting calories in children can cause metabolisms to slow down and impact growth and development. Not all children are overweight because they eat too much. Enter Paul Kramer who has the audacity to write and publish a book called: “Maggie goes on a Diet.”

My first question, the one no one interviewing him seems to want to ask, is: what does a pasty, fat white man know about female teenagers and obesity? Talk about white, male privilege. He feels free to reify beliefs about the obese while clearly being so himself. Why does he think he has the right to exploit young women who are struggling with their weight by writing a prescriptive book for them when he cannot deal with his own weight issues?

We have only seen glimpses from this book. However, what we have seen shows that Kramer does not even understand obesity. He shows a young 14-year old Maggie standing in front of the fridge and eating food for comfort. He gives the bullies a pass by forcing Maggie to change rather than holding those who torment her accountable for their behavior. Perhaps worst of all he demonstrates that once Maggie becomes ‘thin’ and a soccer player she gains a certain amount of fame and people know her name. Implying that Maggie is only worth recognition when she is thin is a horrible message to send to young women. I am sure that Maggie has other things going on for her besides the shape and size of her body. What about her mind or her other accomplishments? The message that women are defined by their bodies is one that has over stayed its welcome.

I was that obese child. I was put on diets from age 8 on. Every time my mother put me on Weight Watchers I gained weight. I was never that child eating in front of the refrigerator at night. I would not have dared eat more than what was provided by my parents. Regardless of what they did or what they restricted I did not lose weight.

I was bullied all the way through school. I can remember having to get home before the bullies knew I left or they would chase me down and beat me up. A woman who lived in our complex would let me come to her house right after school. Her house was closer to the school than ours. I would wait there until everyone had cleared before I went home. I never told anyone about the bullying. I tried to solve the problem myself by staying out of their way and being very quiet. It never worked.

I am incensed that a man has chosen to write a book telling young girls to lose weight. I hate his display of white, male privilege. Obesity is a complicated disease. It is not simply a matter of calories in, calories out. If it were, I would weigh 125 pounds.

Eco-Vision Tech – What a Scam

It has really been my week for odd phone calls. First there was the Viagra phone call and yesterday we received a call from a ‘company’[1] called Eco-Vision Tech. The call sounded like it was coming from India. The caller informed that my router was sending out error messages and he was calling from my ‘operating system’s manufacturer. I asked him if he was calling from Apple he said no. At which point I hung up.

This is a scam that has been going on for a while. It happened to my mother as well. What they do is convince you there is something wrong with your computer. Then they sometimes will ask you to install some software[2], which will then make you think there is something wrong with your computer. Another tactic is to direct you to event logs on your computer and telling you that all of those messages are errors. Once they hook you they want your credit card or bank information so they can get money from you.

Calling me was rather useless. I know far too much about computers to be swayed by their scare tactics. But there are a lot of people who do not and may be swayed. I wonder how many people actually fall for this scam? They wanted to charge my mother $200 to ‘fix’ her computer. I am sure that was just the beginning. Clearly this is where they make their money. I am sure many people hang up on them and don’t get sucked in. I can imagine it could be pretty compelling if you have someone on the phone telling you your computer is sending out error messages and that your computer is going to die.

I think we all need to talk to our parents or others who may be vulnerable to this scam. They need to know that a random call like this is a scam and they simply need to hang up. Hopefully if enough people are warned this scam will cease to work.


[1] I use the word ‘company’ very loosely here.

[2] Referred to as scareware.

Things that seriously annoy me

I ended up in a discussion on Facebook about Apple products. The person who originated the discussion believes that Apple is evil. He did concede from a previous debate that they were innovators as well. So in his mind, Apple are evil innovators who just want to get our money. He posted a graphic that ostensibly compared an Asus computer to a 17-inch MacBook Pro. When I asked him for some evidence to support his statement he did not provide any but kept on bashing Apple. I don’t care if someone does not agree with me. However, what kept happening in this ‘discussion’ was a level of condescension that was completely unwarranted. They behaved as though I was stupid because I didn’t agree with them.

I am not going to replay the discussion here because it really does not matter. What is important here is the attitude that is displayed by at least one purportedly enlightened man. This kind of thing happens to me with alarming frequency especially when it comes to discussions about computers. Some men1 seem to look at me and assume that I know nothing about computers. Once we talk for a few minutes usually they come around and stop acting like know-it-all buffoons.

It is in situations like these that we see that women are still struggling to be on equal footing with men. Once we venture into territory they deem is theirs look out because they can’t stand the competition. Instead of treating us like the equals we are out come the assumptions. And this folks is the patriarchy in action.

Patriarchy as defined by Wikipedia:

“is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority     figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority     over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule     and privilege, and is dependent on female subordination.”

We still live in a society where men are still seen as the primary authority figure. We see these systems throughout our society. Because men have control over the reins of power they set up systems that benefit themselves and exclude women. There is still a dearth of women politics and government because the atmosphere of competition is valued and compromise and conciliation is not.

What needs to happen in our society to finally allow women to be equal players? We would need to change the way we value people. Currently those who are white, male, heterosexual and educated are the most privileged people. Doors open easily for them and they can succeed without much effort. One only needs to look at George W. Bush for proof that this happens. Aggressiveness must never be rewarded instead we must seek to educate the next generation to be inclusive of all people regardless of gender, race, creed, religion, colour, sexual orientation and culture. We can all stand up and say: “I’m not a _____!” But how many of us will say yes I have ____ thoughts and this is how I am trying to educate myself. We all must acknowledge our privilege. Our experiences in our predominantly white, Protestant culture is much different than people who are visible minorities. If we can all become more engaged with what is going on around us perhaps we will finally start to see the demise of the patriarchy.