Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘re-entry is hard’ edition

I always find going back to work after the Christmas holidays very difficult. It is just not long enough. Plus there is the spectre of a brand new year ahead that begins with my least favourite month of the year. It always seems to me that January is one long-ass month of misery. In no particular order here are updates from The Swamp:

  • I had a couple of other observations about our trip to Calgary. I was stunned to find out that I had to give personal information in order to purchase gravol at a pharmacy. Apparently they want to keep track of who is purchasing it. Is there a gravol intervention staged if one tries to buy too much?
  • Rental car companies do not put snow tires on their cars in Calgary. Seriously people, WTF is that about? It makes the fact that I didn’t get stuck or seriously injure us in a crash all the more shocking. I seriously have not lost my winter/snow driving skills.
  • We took in a new senior dog. She is a 16-year old Shih Tzu. She is a great dog. She sleeps a lot but when she is awake she is very engaged and charming. She certainly lets us know, in no uncertain terms when she is not happy with the state of her world. She loves food and snuggling. She has been getting around a lot better since we started her back on metacam. She is able to navigate our stairs in and out. She can go up the stairs to the bedroom but sometimes she just prefers to be carried and we oblige her. She is getting along with the other dogs and seems to have adjusted ok to such a big change. It is always tragic seniors lose their homes because their people have to go into care homes. Tosh was extremely well socialized and is very resilient. She set a land-speed record in terms of how quickly she settled into The Swamp.
Tosh and Piper

Tosh and Piper

  • Jesse is continuing to evolve. He is looking really good and has gained some muscle mass in his back legs. Now his ‘princess’ behaviours are emerging. He is one loud and vocal dog for sure. If he wants something he whines and carries on like he is going to die. The other day Deb heard him screaming downstairs and asked me if he was in distress or if we were playing. We were playing. He definitely loves the sound of his own voice!
  • He and Kiefer are battling out to see who can be the lowest dog in status in the house. Tosh and Zoe are really good at kicking them out of their big dog beds and making them sleep in the small ones. It really is quite hysterical to see those two trying to contort themselves into the much smaller space. Meanwhile, Tosh and Zoe are spread out on the big beds looking quite contented.
  • The new Port Mann Bridge has not gotten off to a good start. There were ice bombs after a storm and it turned into a skating rink when the temperatures dipped down below zero the other morning. Even though it has had problems it has already been successful in reducing congestion on Highway 1. This is a great boon to commuters and has already reduced my commute time. The bigger benefit though is to the economy. As a port city Vancouver has very high levels of truck traffic. Making it easier for them to move goods in and out of Vancouver. Lower levels of congestion will also be good for the environment.
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And We Wonder Why So Many Women Died

The ongoing saga of the Missing Women’s Inquiry[1] was dealt another blow this week with pictures of Corporal Jim Brown’s sexual activities being uncovered.[2] The pictures showed the RCMP officer in various sexual situations where women were being dominated and demeaned. In one photo, he has a knife to the neck of a woman. While Brown didn’t play a large role in the investigation, these pictures suggest attitudes that likely affected how vigoursly the Coquitlam RCMP pursued the investigation.

Given the culture of the RCMP, one of misogyny and sexism, it is likely that missing survival sex-trade workers from the Downtown Eastside was not given a high priority. The women all poor, mostly Aboriginal, some addicted to drugs were not deemed a high priority. After all the killings went on for at least a decade. Even though the RCMP knew about what was going on at Piggy’s Palace[3] and they had reports from women they didn’t step in to shut it down. There is speculation now that Jim Brown may have even attended some of those parties.

I can almost hear the hew and cry from the BDSM community about these pictures. The argument will go that he is entitled to a private sex life. And, while that may be so he nonetheless had a responsibility to conduct himself in a reasonable manner. Instead he allowed pictures of him to be taken and displayed on an adult website. This would indicate to me that he sees nothing wrong with holding a knife against a woman’s neck or having his boot on a woman’s back. At the least he has questionable values. The values we hold as human beings inform every single part of our life; they guide what we do and what we deem important. In Jim Brown’s world, women are there to be used, abused and degraded.

Clearly the Missing Women’s Inquiry has not even yet begun to scratch the surface of what went so horribly wrong. Why did so many women have to die? This Inquiry needs to be completely scrapped. At a minimum a new process must be set up with impartial legal personnel who come from an anti-oppressive framework that understands the intersections of class, race, poverty, gender and ethnicity. The dead must be honoured and we must learn lessons from what happened. If we do not take this opportunity the next serial killer will be able to operate just like Pickton did.


[1] The Missing Women’s Inquiry was convened to investigate why it took so long to stop serial killer Robert Pickton who has been convicted in the deaths of 6 women and charged with a further 20.

[2] Interestingly the Vancouver Sun only called them ‘racy.’

[3] A place on the Pickton farm where the brothers held ‘parties’ that featured sex-trade workers from the DTES.

Stanley Cup Riot Accused

I get that the Vancouver Game 7 Stanley Cup Riot perpetrators need to be punished. They terrorized innocent people, wantonly destroyed other peoples’ property, and assaulted people including police. They need to be arrested and charged. They must have their day in court. They must be judged. However, I am getting quite concerned about the vengeance expressed by some politicians and officials.

First off we have the premier of BC Christy Clark pushing to have television cameras in the courtrooms. I am not sure what she is trying to accomplish. If she thinks that we as the public need to see that the accused are being punished I think she wrong. I have not heard a loud outcry from the public thinking that they are going to be punished. In the same breath she is advocating cameras in the courtroom, she is saying we need to speed up the justice system. On this point she is correct. The justice system in this province is immovable just look at the slow pace at which people are being charged with riot related charges. Trying to televise the proceedings will only serve to slow down our already taxed system.

I am also concerned about the talk of minimum sentences for convicted riots. Apparently, when crimes take place during a riot they are viewed as more serious as the acts contribute to the riot itself. I believe the convicted rioters need to be punished. In cases where there is a history of this kind of anti-social behavior perhaps jail time would be warranted. I think the vast majority of the accused will be young people, fueled by drugs and or alcohol, who got caught up in the riot. This does not excuse their behavior but if they have otherwise clean records why would want to send them to jail where they will only learn how to become more criminal. They will be saddled with a criminal record and if Clark has her way, their pictures will be saved on the internet in perpetuity.

Instead I believe those who do not have a criminal record should be consigned to community service, a written apology and restitution. I am not talking about a little community service. Perhaps a group of victims could have some input into the number of hours the convicted rioters would need to serve.  Restitution should take the convicted a long time to complete.

Really what needs to happen is the convicted rioters need to have the epiphany that they actually did something wrong. They will not come to this realization in jail. Instead they will become angry and bitter. They need to give back to society. They need to invest themselves in society and their communities so that they can then become productive, civic-minded citizens.

Weather Forecast for the Wet Coast

Here is one of our most recent weather forecasts:

Rain

Showers

Light Showers

Rain, at times heavy

Cloudy with showers

Rain

Light Rain

Isolated Showers

Rain

Do you see the theme emerging?

Published in: on January 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm  Comments (1)  
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