Sunday, 26 June 2011

On Holiday

At the Static. Be Back Later.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Joining the Dots

So what's everyone talking about in beautiful British Columbia? The tax known as HST. Wow, how fab and fun. Yeah, no.
So here's what happened.
We start off, as you know, with a shit system. Yes, I know shit isn't an adjective, but bear with me. You never know the actual price of anything because it's always quoted before tax. Yeah, I know, don't ask.
Now, onto the goods and services, there used to be added two taxes, GST and PST, and between them, these added up to 12%. The Provincial Government decided to go for a new streamlined system which replaced these with just one tax called HST. HST was 12%. So, no biggie, you would THINK.
In comes rent-a-mob in the form of some clapped out old has-been who jumped up and down and told everyone they were being shafted. Instead of everyone just ignoring him, they get all aeriated and the leader of the Provincial government who introduced it, Mr Gordon Campbell, is forced to resign. Yep, that's what politicians fall on over here, people missing the point entirely, unlike in Britain, where they get ousted for more important reasons, like having ginger hair, or speaking with a Welsh or Scottish accent.

Still not getting it? Nope, it is incomprehensible. The new tax, being basically the same as the old tax, has caused us to have a referendum, and for people to start talking a load of old bollocks about how it's a bad tax. But these people are seriously confused.

Firstly, the leader of rent-a-mob, let's just call him BVZ, has been simply talking bullshit and pulling figures out of the air, also making them up. This YouTube video, which Gail pointed me at the other day, takes the stupidity apart.

But back to the simplicity about the whole nonsense, the HST is applied slightly differently on some goods and services from the previous two taxes. So what some people seem to be bizarrely unable to see, is that the tax itself is irrelevant. It is no different from the previous two taxes, it is the applications of that tax they should be focussing on. Application, not function.

But then, the same thing happened a couple of days ago. Kevin was reading an article which came up with the term 'benevolent sexism'. Utter stupidity, based on the same inability to take in and process information.
So where is the blockage?
Sexism is discrimination on grounds of gender, just as racism is discrimination on grounds of race.
So what is discrimination? Aha - here's the short circuit.
There are two dictionary definitions of the word.

From the OED:-




[no object]
  • 1 recognize a distinction; differentiate:babies can discriminate between different facial expressions
  • [with object] perceive or constitute the difference in or between:features that discriminate this species from other gastropods
  • 2 make an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race , sex, or age:existing employment policies discriminate against women
Thus, somewhere, someone has failed to read to the end, someone has not noticed that one definition, is relevant in this context and one isn't. One does not end in an -ism, and one does.
You cannot have a benevolent prejudice in treatment in different categories of people.
Having made one almighty error, the writer apparently went on to list a couple of practices which were intensely sexist, with a bunch of others which were, in fact, not.

No joined-up thinking you see.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Obsessively Boring

Firstly, and possibly most obsessively, I meant to say a tiny bit more about 'Thor'.
Thor's hammer seemed to be emblazoned with a Celtic trinity. This seems odd, since the Celts and Brythonic Britons were constantly battling the Saxons and Norse invaders. In the film, the Norse trickster, Loki, is shown as the (adopted) son of Odin, which kind of works in the film, and yet is annoying in that he wasn't in Norse Mythology. But of course, as long as one doesn't actually believe in the Norse Gods, one can play fast and loose with their relationships, characters and even powers, but exactly that - as long as one doesn't believe in them. Well, but I do personally spend a lot of time reading about Celtic legends and then use them in my own writing as I see fit. I suppose I would never see fit to change parentage because it is part of the character itself. I might meddle with the story, but not the character.

Ok, so secondly, I have been reading about and then the work of, a Californian Feminist, Hugo Schwyzer. And from there, I have been led to the website of a Vancouver-based group, The Feminist Media Collective. There is an exceptionally well-written and argued blog on the site. I listened to their radio broadcast on Monday and it was an interesting piece about the de-criminalisation or otherwise, of prostitution.

Hummus is very filling.

The sun has been shining fora few days now, and it is noticeably warmer, but mercifully, not so warm that I have had to have the air-conditioning on in either house or car.

I dreamt about Anne last night. Every time someone important in my life has died, I have always had this same kind of dream. I know the person is dead, but there they are, and I can talk to them and interact with them, all the time knowing they are dead. I hugged Anne and was surprised how solid she felt.

I had an appointment in New Westminster today. The thing about New West is that many of the roads are called (Number) Street or (Number) Avenue. The streets go one way and the avenues another, it's confusing and a person might easily get lost because they went along a street when they were supposed to be on an avenue, this did indeed happen to me and has done several times before. Oh well. I found the place in the nick of time.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Male Side

On Friday, I went to look through my friend Anne's books. I did get a bit distressed as I neared her house, but then I saw the signs for a local Realtor, Randy Mann, and this seriously and eye-wateringly un-distressed me. I can't decide whether his name is more amusing than my friend's union person - Brother Moist. Difficult. Perhaps they're both the same person, after all, one could follow after the other.

Thursday, Laurence and I went to see 'Thor (3D)'. Excellent film, I greatly enjoyed this, Laurence, not so much I feel.

I'm currently reading 'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver. It was slow to engage me, but now that I'm into it, it has me in its grip. My sons continue to educate me on the continent where I spent my very earliest years. The Congo, however, seems harsh even for Africa. Bible bashing preachers can be even harsher though.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Ecce Vancouver

On the full moon that was Wednesday, the finals of the Stanley Cup were played out in Vancouver, and the Canucks lost. But gracious in defeat. It goes without saying that I hadn't actually watched a game, but it has been as impossible for my sports filter to cope as with Pompey and football, so I know that there has been a lot of foul play, and much of it has gone unchallenged.

After the game was the riot, orchestrated by people who came into Vancouver specially for that purpose. Arseholes. Our friend Steve, who was at the game, said that the crowd cheered the winners, most stayed to witness their celebration, in contrast to the way the Canucks were treated when they were playing away from home.

On the streets, families were told to leave the city before the game had ended, individuals tried to stop the vandalism, bars and restaurants closed because Molotov cocktails were being served outside.

But in the morning - the glory. The people, children included, just went out there and cleared and cleaned up the city.

Ecce Vancouver.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Hmm. Squirrels. In spite of their real place in the batting order, their being rather less-intelligent rats, they are pretty cute and fluffy. Annoying, however.

I had suspected in the autumn that they were stealing my bulbs, eating them no doubt, and most certainly fewer came up than I had expected. Now I have identified one of the mystery plants in my balcony boxes, and I pulled this little batch of baby oak trees from just one container. Yep, squirrels bury acorns and then can't remember where they've put them.

Another mystery plant in amongst my flowers, has turned out to be spinach. No problems with that one, the more, the better. I have moved them to where the spinach grows.

Meanwhile, rocket, which is not going great guns where I've actually planted it, has self seeded by the side of the garage door, and a mighty, robust plant it is too. So flourishing is it, that it blocked the garage door's sensor earlier this evening.

Still, squirrels eh? Rubbish at hide-and-seek, fab as gardeners.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Elephant Day

Saturday was a blue elephant day. I think I may have spoken of the blue elephant before - once, when I was in Germany with a school party, one of them lost their passport and we had to go to the British Embassy to retrieve it. Of course, we had to take the whole seventy of them. We parked not far from the Brandenburger Tor, and two of us went off to get the passport, whilst the other teachers stayed on the bus with the kids.
When we got back, they said they'd seen a blue elephant, and some people had given them free samples of coca cola. All this turned out to be true, they even had a picture of the blue elephant. The sky itself was endlessly blue, and so it all sticks in my mind as a surreal day set against an azure sky.

When I got up on Saturday morning, it was warm and moderately sunny, but snow appeared to be drifting through the sky, twirling and gently falling to earth. It was Cottonwood fluff, and very late in the season to be released.

I had to go to the NEXUS office at the border, and as I drove along H street, speed limit 25mph, a dog appeared and ran along behind the car for a way. It looked well-cared for and had a collar, but there was no owner in tow. Later, as I drove back, it had reached the main road intersection, and was sniffing cars as they stopped at the traffic lights. Impossible for anyone to get out however, without causing an accident.

A road sign read, 'Ped Xing'. Living where we do, and not concentrating, I wondered why there was a Chinese person's name on a road sign, before my brain clicked on again, and I realised it was short for 'Pedestrian Crossing'. It certainly seemed to be nowhere near one.

Another sign, this time by the side of the road, promised 'Camp Wood'. I wouldn't think wood could be particularly camp, but life constantly surprises me.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Paling into Insignificance

I'm finding the whole Margaret Thatcher / Sarah Palin stand-off really quite entertaining. There are just so many angles.

Firstly, there is the fact that medically, Thatcher is suffering from actual dementia, whereas Palin is simply demented.

Secondly, because of this, the whole, 'have my people speak to your people' thing takes on a new dimension. Thatcher has 'a circle', she has 'allies' and as such, they can say what they really think. And they really think that Palers is nuts, so that's what they have said. They really think that it would 'belittle' Thatch, or 'Margaret' as they call her, to meet Palers. They talk about 'the level Margaret punches at', and Palin is beneath that level. Frankly, I have to admire this circle of friends, because they are REALLY getting under the skin of the ludicrous-right wing of the USA, whilst showing that as right-wingers themselves, they consider there to be a serious right wing to US American politics, but Sarah Palin simply isn't it.

Thirdly, there is the very entertaining aspect that comes from the fact that Thatch can't actually speak for herself. Rush Limbaugh for example, blames, not Lady Thatcher, but her friends and the Guardian, because he knows Thatch from her glory days, and she would NOT behave like this. Which has led to this superb quote from Andrew Sullivan, of The Dish Blog,

""As usual, the tired old bigoted comedian Rush Limbaugh took offence that anyone could call Sarah Palin 'nuts,' even though she is quite obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and her grip on reality is, shall we say, tenuous. And as usual, Limbaugh blamed it on the left, ie the Guardian's Wintour/Watt blog.

"What he doesn't understand is that Palin's nutsiness is not a partisan matter in Britain, or anywhere else in the world. It is an obvious truth marvelled at by all. Palin's emergence as a serious figure in American politics has made the country a laughing stock across the world. The idea that a stateswoman like Thatcher, in advanced dementia, would be used by such a crackpot is simply unseemly." "

Give it up Palers, you've been out nut-jobbied.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Just Not Cricket

The German man who lives opposite the Schloss, has been irritating the hell out of me all day. He has been power washing the pavement outside his house since about mid-morning. The equipment he is using seems to have its own generator, and generators make an annoying noise, constant, continuous, but annoying. But aside from that, aside from the ridiculous amounts of energy and water that he has consumed in this Are people now not allowed to walk on the pavement? May birds not crap on it? I mean it's nice when it has a bit of a sweep to get rid of the dead leaves and fag buts, but this looks as though it has been whitewashed. You can just about see it through the hanging basket, gleaming across the road.

Vancouver and its surrounding area, has gone home early. Yes, in the way that WC Fields once said, 'I went to Philadelphia once, but it was closed,' if you came to Vancouver tonight, it would be closed. Well, obviously apart from the annoying pavement washing that continues across the road.
What, you might wonder, would close Vancouver. Well, duh, hockey of course. The Canucks are in the finals of the playoffs and the temperature may be cool on the ice, but it's rising throughout the city.

Back in Blighty however, it is cricket that's getting fans all hot under the collar, and not without cause. The Surrey Cricket Club have outraged male and female fans alike by deciding to use 'walk-on girls' for one of their matches. And you might well wonder what a walk-on girl is. It is just that, a girl, or more likely woman, who wears a lot of make-up and potentially not much else, although this seems to be up for debate, and who walks the guests or players, or some important male people...on. And then she walks off. So a bit like an armed guard, or a nurse in a mental hospital only less useful, unless you consider glamour to be an important function.

Monday, 6 June 2011

A Weekend

We had a weekend. The two of us, together. And the weather conspired to be super duper too.
We cycled, (a reasonably long way, with Whisky in the puppy trailer)we kayaked, we ate outdoors and we had a fire. I swam. We stayed outside all evening because it was just warm and wonderful.

The interwebs however, conspired against us. This wouldn't maybe have mattered but for the fact that it did manage to deliver us a voicemail that was important and needed answering, and it allowed me one outward e-mail and then that was my lot.
Ah well.
It were still a luverly weekend.

Via the F-Word blog, I see that writer and Nobel winner VS Naipaul thinks no female writer his match. Right. Clearly he simply can't read. But the interesting thing about this article is that at least the first batch of comments I read, were intelligent and anti-misogynistic.

I loved this story yesterday. Brigitte Marcelle, who had been working as a page for the Canadian Parliament, walked in, wearing her uniform, and holding a placard that read, 'Stop Harper'. What backbone!

TV, as I've said, is sparse. Not such a drag when the days are sunny and long. This evening I watched Criminal Intent, which seems to have popped back up out of nowhere.
I was reminded of the difference between the words father and mother when used as verbs. If you say someone fathered a child, it means they supplied the sperm, if you say someone mothered a child, it means they looked after them in a warm and loving way.
One of the characters said of another,
'He has Irish Alzheimer's, he forgets everything but the grudges.'

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Wrong Insomniac

It seems impossible that on Wednesday I felt better. Physically I did I suppose, Thursday, I was a wreck, emotionally. I suppose I hit a really big wave and succumbed.

And yet, although yesterday started early, it started well. One of the residents of our strata complex, let's call him Doris, has been illegally parking his taxi for...well, ever really. He has had warnings, he has been aggressive to his neighbours, he has had fines, which he doesn't pay, and the situation had to be dealt with. For two days running, Kevin, on the request of the Strata Council, had put a notice to tow on his car, then called the towing company.

Wednesday, whilst I was clearing the kitchen, I saw Doris driving his car out at 09.10. I saw the tow truck turn up at 09.25. The tow truck then had to leave because Doris's car wasn't there, it turned right, the driver waited for a couple of minutes, and then drove off. As soon as he or she drove off, Doris reappeared from the left, so clearly it was all a game of cat and mouse.

But Doris was playing his game with the wrong insomniac. At four on Thursday, Kevin was wide awake. He called the towing company. He waited for the towing company. He watched as they towed Doris's taxi away.
And then he came back to bed and dealt with his work e-mail, sending a message to his line manager, who was astonished later on, to have received an e-mail timestamped 04.30.
Still, if you are awake at 4 o'clock, you might as well make it count.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Feeling Groovy

At least, spades better than yesterday, which all in all seemed to be my worst day.

Flaming June.

So, Canada Post are poised to go on strike, at the one time when I am actually WAITING for a piece of mail which will mean I can then send one, and all of this is time sensitive.
And they really do seem unrealistic in their demands when I compare them with the great Royal Mail postal workers, and at a time when snail mail is at an all time low - which has been pointed out to them.
And really, we're in a recession, this is not the time to strike.

The whole 'killer cucumber' deal is not by any means funny, and yet, I can't help thinking how difficult it was to find any kind of veggies in Germany, especially ones that didn't begin with the letter K.
Still, I don't understand why farmers in Germany hasn't learnt from the experience of their sisters and brothers in California with the whole spinach e-coli thing from only a couple of years ago. Furthermore, it begs the question, what are German farmers feeding their cattle? Cattle that are fed corn instead of grass, have 80% more e-coli bacteria in their digestive tract, but why would this happen in Europe?

I'm feeling less groovy as the day wears on.

Summer may not yet have arrived, but summer TV has - ie sweet Fanny Adams on. Last night we watched the old Simon Schama 'History of Britain', the episode about the 14th Century, which has to rate as possibly the least enjoyable century to live in. Black Death, witch burnings because they were blamed for the Black Death, more Black Death, and the now fully grown ten-year old king getting all out of control and then quelling the Peasants Revolt, which, admittedly, was itself quite out of control.
Still, the upside of the Black Death was an end to serfdom, and if you survived it, you may have made out like a bandit in the inheritance game.

Britain has had the driest spring in over a 100 years or since 1990, depending on where you are, BC has had the wettest since records began. Such a pity we can't share weather a bit more.

In my garden, the onions are so far coming up a-plenty, enough for a whole tour-de-France I feel, but the spuds, not so much, and even the tommies, whilst numerous, are somewhat stunted so far. Be we are promised (threatened?) a long,hot summer, so they could rally.

I have finished another good read, 'Lyrics Alley' by Leila Aboulela. Seems like if you want to get something published these days, it'd better be about Africa. Lyrics Alley was set in Egypt and the Sudan, interesting stuff, I won't deny it. Now I have 'The Memory of Love' by Aminatta Forna, which is about Sierra Leone.
Good stuff.

Now I'm going to fade.