Four Dancers

October 31, 2014

Four Dancers

Violence By Men Against Women Is Wrong. Period.

October 30, 2014

I have no idea whether Jian Ghomeihi did or did not do to the eight women what they claim he did.  If it did happen, I have no idea (other than what the parties say) whether those actions were consensual or not.  None of that matters to me, to be honest, though I recognize that has bearing on any civil or criminal case that may follow.

What matters to me is that Ghomeshi has admitted that he was violent with women in order to achieve sexual gratification. This is not fetishism or kinkiness. You can dress it up as some sort of sexual freedom, but the fact is this is nothing but violence and abuse by a powerful man against less-powerful women.  Nothing more need be said.

By his own admissions, Ghomeshi has declared himself to be a dangerous violent animal and he should be shunned (at the very least) for that.

Boardwalk Empire

October 30, 2014

nuckyI don’t watch a lot of TV these days, but I have always taken time to watch HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” which finished its five season run on Sunday. Having caught up season one in a marathon one spring, we looked forward eagerly each summer to seasons two through five.

For those who don’t know, “Boardwalk Empire” is the fictionalised account of the life of Nucky Thompson, crime boss of Atlantic City before and after the 1920s.  Through Nucky’s life, we watch the eastern seaboard gangs, Irish, Jews, Italians, blacks, fight each other for the riches that Prohibition supplied to the underworld; we watch the rise and rise of Al Capone in Chicago; and we get a taste of how the cops, many of whom were as currupt as the killers they chased, tried to deal with the crime wave.

The first few seasons were simply magnificent, concentrating on Nucky’s control of New Jersey as he turns from smalltown politician to big time crook, his partnerships and rivalries with various gang leaders elsewhere, his marriage, his extended family.  These early years culminated in the glorious third season, dominated by Bobby Carnavale’s incredible performance as the homicidal maniac Gyp Rosetti.

Season four was less successful, but for reasons that are hard to explain.  Perhaps the concentration on characters other than Thompson diffused the tension that was so palpable in season three. And then there was season five which was, I thought, odd.  For the first time in the series, we were treated to long flashbacks to Nucky’s youth, first as a troublesome kid, then as a deputy sheriff.  We are shown how he gains the sheriff’s badge through an act of humiliaton which does at least explain some of the setup in season one.

More problematic for season five were the unexplained ten year gap since the action in season four, and the the rote killing of major characters (Muller, Marazano, Torio, Chalky, Nucky’s girlfriend and, eventually, Nucky himself), apparently just to close their stories.

This Gangsters Inc review tells some necessary truths. But they don’t take enough acount of the fine acting, direction, and production values which was what kept us watching. In fact, the writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, set dressers and designers were almost flawless.

I also question thr Gangster Inc characterization of the Michael Shannon role. I thought his character created problems for the series, but for quite different reasons.  As a lowly FBI agent who gets into trouble, and then as a lowly soldier in the gangs, he helped us see the bottom of the criminal pile rather than just the leaders.  That was valuable.  However, my problem with the role was that it was used as an excuse to make Capone a major character which was quite unnecessary to the series arc and took focus away from Nucky’s story.

OK, so I was disappointed in season five, but it was always worth watching, and I am glad to have seen it.

More On The CAC Scandal

October 29, 2014

In a long piece on CACs by SFU urbanist graduate student Karen Sawatsky she supports the current system and in passing mentions my own article on CACs written here a little while ago as being part of the opposition. It is a pity she didn’t look further at the implications of the current system which requires rezoning for any CACs to be paid.

If a developer follows the rules and builds a project within the limits of the zoning previously approved for the lot(s), then no CACs are paid. The City only gains CACs when it agrees to break the social contract implied in the zoning that exists. And given that the City under Vision has become dependent — like an addict — on these payments, then the City is explicitly encouraging breaches of the zoning it had previously agreed with the neighbourhood and its residents.

In order to get around the terrible political optics that one spot-rezoning after another brings with it (because the residents generally object to the non-consensual change), Vision decided to revive the Community Plan process.  This top-down we-know-best planning scheme sought to rezone entire neighbourhoods (four at once if they had had their way) and “pre-load” the CACs into the Plan.  Of course, they have already planned their budgets to include these CACs and so, in order to guarantee the cash, they are obliged to push the developer-friendly Plans through regardless of residents’ opposition.

Is it any wonder the neighbourhoods — including what Ms. Sawatsky calls the “lefty” Drive — have been up in arms for years against Vision and its rapacious cronies?

While it might sound good to get the developers to pay in this way, any sensible person knows that the developer never pays — the cost is simply added to the price of every housing unit being built, thus exacerbating the affordability crisis.

Moreover, under the current Vision regime and its compliant Planning Department, it is only the developers and the planners who decide what community amenities we should have. Not the residents, not the taxpayers, not even the elected Councilors. This is a true scandal and must be stopped.

Go Greens Go!

October 29, 2014

green ad

Great to see Vancouver Greens getting large billboard!

Birthday Memories: Me and the Internet

October 29, 2014

Forty-five years ago today, the very first connection was made on Arpanet, the precursor to the internet:

arpanetThat was on my 20th birthday,  I was in Yugoslavia, working on a contract, oblivious to that particular history being made. I probably got drunk on bottled beer and slivovic that night but, luckily, there were no smart phones with cameras then to capture me at my worst.

I remember 1969 being a swell year, and I am glad to share it with the internet,

Priceless Indeed…

October 28, 2014

Geoff Olsen’s editorial cartoon for the Courier today is perfect.

courier comic