Now, A Word About Snow

View from my deck

Meanwhile in Vancouver, Canada, a couple of days ago, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter got together in a romantic embrace and — Bullshit! Last Thursday night, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter had spectacular, incredible sex — and they went at it all weekend like a couple of perverted porn stars.  The result was (and still is) a snow storm of biblical proportions.  The roads are icy, the sidewalks are impassable, buses are as rare as unicorns and you need to produce holy relics to get a taxi.  In short, my town has turned into an illustration from the Book of Revelation.

FYI — There is a universal myth that my country, Canada, is a gigantic vertical refrigerator sprinkled with igloos and Inuit, while the rest of us cling to the 49th parallel as if the USA were a bowl of hot soup.  The fact is, 99.99% of that myth is true, except for my town, Vancouver (Vangroovy, as it is affectionately called) where the local word for “bad weather” is — well — we don’t actually have one.  Normally, we have the kind of weather California used to brag about — before the droughts, fires and pestilence.  Our golf courses are open year round, it’s not recommended but you can wear shorts all winter and — on most days — play tennis in them.  Trapped between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver has weather so different from the rest of Canada that the children here think Disney’s Frozen is a horror movie.

And that’s the problem.  We are not prepared for this white crap.  We have no idea what it is.  On Thursday evening, the snow was beautiful, drifting in the dark, covering everything in a crystal blanket that sparkled in the quiet light.  But by Friday morning, it was showing its teeth — growling and snarling at anybody who ventured out — driving them into the ditch and shoving them off the sidewalk.  Then on Saturday and Sunday,  things just got nasty.  It was as if Jack Frost was channeling Jack the Ripper and they were both trying to decide where to stick the icicle in next.  Vancouver’s snow removal crew (three guys with two shovels) finally gave up and hid out in a bar, and the only thing left for the good citizens of Vangroovy to do was lock the doors and pray.

Now it’s Tuesday with no relief in sight.  So would everybody who reads this please pray for rain in Vancouver — so we can get back to normal and the rest of Canada can start hating us again?  Thank you!

Vancouver Riot: Part II

Photo - Anthony Bolante/Reuters

There are several myths circulating in the aftermath of the Vancouver Riot.  Let me set the record straight.

1 – Some rioters have come forward to admit their guilt.
This is not true.  Some may have walked into the police station and admitted participation in last Wednesday’s disaster, but I doubt it — at least I haven’t heard of any.  The vast majority of rioters who’ve come forward so far have already been clearly identified on Facebook and other social media.  They were trapped by their own brazen behaviour.  When you’re photographed with the smoking gun, it’s best to admit the crime.

2 – Many of the rioters were just caught up in the excitement and hysteria of the moment.
No, they were the hysteria of the moment.  They committed antisocial acts of wanton destruction.  There are no mitigating circumstances.  Since when has misdirected adrenalin been an adequate defence for a criminal act?  “I stole a purse from The Bay ‘cause I was all excited,” just doesn’t cut it.

3 – Most of the rioters have expressed genuine remorse for their actions.
Maybe, but on Thursday morning many ordinary citizens went downtown with brooms and plastic bags to help clean up the mess.  I didn’t see any of the remorseful there.  In general, they were probably sleeping it off, perhaps resting up to be remorseful at a later date.

4 – Outing rioters on Facebook and other social media is vigilantism.
No, in our society, if you see a crime being committed, it’s your obligation to help identify the criminal.  Just because there happened to be hundreds of criminals  n the same place at the same time Wednesday night doesn’t make the situation any different.  If you see somebody set fire to your neighbour’s car do you call 911 or watch it burn?  If you have a picture, do you show it to the police or delete it?  If you know the person…etc. etc.

5 – The rioters are suffering from an overwhelming public backlash.
Wrong again.  The Wednesday night rioters are not the victims here.  They caused millions of dollars in property damage.  Certainly, that can be fixed and paid for, although I doubt very much if any of the over-exuberate youth are ever going to pony up the bucks.  The real problem is the reputation of every citizen of Vancouver has been ruined internationally.  We’re not going to get that back any time soon.  The public is justifiably angry and they should be.

Here’s the truth.  Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people went nuts the other night.  They wantonly destroyed my property and my neighbour’s property as well.  If an individual had committed these crimes and been photographed in the act, he or she would have to answer for them — perhaps even be made to make restitution.  However, given the circumstances, I don’t think I’m allowed to recover the damages inflicted upon my neighbours and myself.  I think we’re just going to have to pay for those burned-out police cars.  Also, through no fault of my own, my exemplary reputation has been destroyed.  All the glamour and goodwill Vancouver generated internationally from the 2010 Winter Olympics has been ruined.  Again, if an individual had done this to me personally, I would have some recourse.  I could hire a lawyer and sue for slander and defamation of character.  Unfortunately, I can’t do that.  I just have to live with looking like an idiot.

The perpetrators of these crimes are being identified.  They are the focus of public scrutiny.  The public is angry, and rightfully so.  Those people who committed these crimes need to understand that we are all neighbours.  It’s not acceptable to burn your neighbours’ cars, break their windows or steal from them.  Nor is it acceptable to ruin your neighbour’s reputation just because you got caught up in the moment.

Rick, Yoga and Free Speech

I had a friend who once told me there are no such things as bad days.   He wasn’t one of these terminally chirper individuals you want to shake ‘til their eyes pop.  He was a regular guy, and he practiced what he preached.  Rick (not his real name) saw the world as a wonderfully written comedy, loaded with pathos and suspense, and he saw life as a poker game where you have to play the cards you’re dealt.  His point was that instead of lamenting the fact that you have no shoes, you should find the guy who has no feet.  Then, by purchase or guile, you should get your mitts on his shoes because he’s obviously not going to be needing them.   Rick would have loved the 21st century.

Every time I run into a day like today, when it looks, for all the world, like the world is doomed, I think of Rick and wonder what he’d make of it all.  Not the big things like another earthquake in Japan or the United States 24 hours away from bankruptcy — but the little things — the quirks and pops that define us, as a society.

For example, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is all upset that a woman was tossed from public transit for wearing a button that the Transit Authority thought was offensive.  You can read about it here.  What happened was the transit cops were checking for unpaid fares (Vancouver and environs has an honour system for the part of public transit called Skytrain) when they found a female dishonouring the system.  According to various news sources, they wrote her a ticket for $175.00.  She, then did the honourable thing, bought a ticket and wanted to ride.  However, the cops asked her to either remove an offensive button she was wearing or remove herself from public transit.  She refused to do either one and so was forcibly removed — button and all.

Our girl decided not to just go quietly into that good night, shake herself off and ride for free another day.  Instead, she decided that this was no less than a police state challenge to the very core of our democracy – freedom of speech.  She embarked on a province wide “I’m a Victim” tour of various venues.   It seems most people blew her off — including the Police Complaint Commissioner.  However, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association had enough time, money and resources to not only hear her tale of woe but they also had enough time, money and resources left over to act upon it.  The BCCLA, as they’re affectionately called, has now asked the transit police to “clarify and revise their policy on free speech” without delay (Tracy Sherlock, The Vancouver Sun, 4.7.2011., A4.)  Such is the dire nature of this attack on Canadian values and liberty.  Of course, the BCCLA doesn’t blow their nose without alerting the media, so Vancouver’s answer to Joan of Arc found her way into the on-line pages of both The Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail.  The story includes a picture of the offending woman with the offending button.  However, possibly at the request of the photographer (although I have no evidence of that) our heroine’s fingers are strategically covering the offending word — one assumes, so as not to offend.

There you have it.  That’s what darkened my mood today.  At a time when half the world is starving, the other half is trying to butcher each other and the rest of us are trying to cope with the insanity of it all, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is spending a wad of cash — protecting me from the transit police who were protecting me from nasty little girls who think the rules of common courtesy should not, or do not, apply to them.

So, what would Rick think about all this?  Let me just stop for a minute and explain something.  Although this ignorant waste of time and money upsets me, I do not have a public opinion about it.  I’m a coward.  The B.C. Civil Liberties Association scares the bejesus out of me, and when they’re around, I keep my opinions to myself.  The only thing that scares me worse is their mutant parent, the Human Rights Commission.  Make no mistake: when the Nazis come, I’m the guy hiding in the basement, reading novels – just so you know.  So, anyway, what would Rick think about all this?

Rick would find it absolutely hilarious that the B.C. Transit Police actually expect people to pay $175.00 fines when they didn’t spring for bus fare, in the first place.  He’d laugh himself stupid that this somehow passes for injustice.  And he’d be rolling on the floor, peeing his pants, to hear that the people’s champion of Canadian values didn’t have the integrity to contribute $2.50 worth of social responsibility to public transit!

I guess it’s not such a bad day after all, when I think about it.  Normally, I’d have to pay a cover charge for this kind of comedy.  Thanks, Rick!