Clara has just finished her Olympic career with a great performance in London, finishing fifth. She and Cindy Klassen, another Winnipegger, are tied for the most Olympic medals by any Canadian, at six each. Clara is also the only Canadian to have won medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and the only Olympian in the world to have won multiple medals in both the summer and winter games.

So that makes Clara one of the most successful Olympic Athletes EVER.

And it’s time Winnipeg finally recognized one of its most famous daughters.

Luckily for us, there is a perfect opportunity to do that right now. With style.

Elmwood resident Nelson Sanderson had an idea back in the spring to rename Disraeli Freeway to Olympian Freeway. It’s a good idea, considering that both Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen have roots in the River East communities that are served by the newly-rebuilt link from downtown.

Now it’s been around twenty years since I liked the use of the word “freeway” to describe Disraeli; when I was a kid I imagined from the south end of it (having never gone over) that it was like one of those huge California highways that led to all sorts of interesting places. (I had the same expectation of Concordia Avenue from the off-ramp on Lagimodière, so you can guess that my teenage years were filled with bitter disappointment.

I’d prefer calling our new link Olympian Way.

And of course, Olympian Way connects to Henderson Hwy, and it’s only a few blocks from there to the new community facility that’s planned for where Kelvin Community Centre once stood. (Oh yeah… I’m a gonna beat that dead horse a little more. Whack! Whack!)

That facility will be administered by Bronx Park Community Centre, but some Elmwood residents aren’t big on the idea of sticking the Bronx Park Bruin up on the wall. And obviously Bronx Park and the City of Winnipeg aren’t about to call it “Kelvin Community Centre”.

As other residents have suggested, Kelvin should be renamed Clara Hughes Centre.

Clara Hughes Centre will include one ice rink, a “skills park”, a basketball court, a playground, athletic fields in the back (one baseball and two soccer), and a modest community building with two change rooms, a lounge area, a canteen, washrooms, and a meeting room.

I can’t think of a reason why this doesn’t make sense. Can you?


Note: The facility design images are adapted from the Open House boards created by Scatliff Miller Murray.

I sometimes think of my washroom as a think tank, not just due to the sheer amount of genius ideas that come to me during my various bathroom tasks, but because at certain inopportune moments my powder room gives off the same stench you’d find in news releases from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

My latest idea, however, doesn’t smell anything like what you’d get if you mixed Burger King and Indian food into a blender and added a couple drops of Sambuca. In fact, my latest idea smells just like an Order of Canada.

Introducing: The Canadian Museum and Waterpark for Human Rights and Splashtastic Excitement (CM/WHR/SE)

That’s right… a somber reflection of man’s inhumanity to man combined with much-too-young girls in bikini tops and gently used and removed band-aids swirling around the grayish warm waters of a hot tub.

Now I haven’t had enough time to fully flesh things out, given that I only have so much hot water for my weekly shower and I use half of it to steep my peppermint tea, but I think that what I have come up with so far will make Winnipeg a world class city that could rival Spokane, Washington.

Selected Attractions:

  • Kuryong Drop: a North Korean-themed slide. Six people stand at the top of the slide wearing blindfolds and every thirty seconds one of those six is shoved into the launch tube. The rider then freefalls for approximately five meters. Upon splashing down into the pool at the bottom, that lucky and possibly still blindfolded person has a one in ten chance of being abducted and sent on a lifelong trip to North Korea to teach members of the inner circle about such curious Western artifacts as Chili Cheese Fries, Daniel Tosh, and Sad Keanu.
  • The NGO Circle Jerk: a waterslide that contains only one loop, but through the use of cutting edge technology the rider is continually pushed through that same loop for around twenty minutes, making absolutely no progress and eventually realizing that they are going nowhere. At that point a trap door opens and they are dropped into a hot tub and given two shots of Johnnie Walker Black Label to help them through their newfound existential crisis.
  • The CM/WHR/SE Fundraising Wave Pool: because cost overruns tend to multiply like Parisian bunnies downing Viagra on V-E Day, there is a need for an attraction that will increase the tithe received from each visitor. The waves will be pretty intense, varying from Tsunami to Much Bigger Tsunami, and you will notice a difference in the experience based on your individual contribution. Donations are classified in multiple levels much like you’d find on a layer cake, pyramid scheme, or naked Abu Ghraib prisoner dogpile: Gold level members ($500+) are given an inflatable raft and a crew of six, while Silver donors ($100-499) get two pool noodles. All other contributors will have their drowned corpses fished out with a pool skimmer at closing time, and any personal effects found on their person or in their lockers will be auctioned off to pay for additional urinal troughs in the men’s washrooms.
  • The Jewish Quarter: there was some controversy about whether or not the original CMHR was intended more as a holocaust memorial rather than a universal human rights edutainment centre. This controversy sometimes brought up good points, but often descended quite quickly into arguments like “I’m not racist, but have you noticed the Jews control everything?” and “Hitler wasn’t all bad… what about the Volkswagen and TV dinners?” The current plan for the CM/WHR/SE does include an area highlighting antisemitism; it’ll be a tastefully decorated lounge area with a couple of whirlpools and a big screen TV playing an endless loop of Family Guy episodes, along with an explanation that most of what Mort Goldman says is still crossing the line even if some of your friends are Jewish. But maybe I just don’t have a sense of humour…
  • First Nations Area for Parents and Papooses:  because the CM/WHR/SE is well-aware that it would seem hypocritical to talk about human rights without at least paying token lip service to the issues affecting Aboriginal peoples in Canada, a special area will be created in an unheated and poorly lit part of the building. The water used in these slides and pools should be boiled before drinking or touching to your skin in any way, and please keep in mind that while people disappear from the middle of these slides all the time, none of those missing people matter because… how can I put this… they’re not white.

    Makeshift home of someone who is... again... not white.

So that’s what I’ve got so far. If you believe that we can make this vision a reality, please make a donation to The Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Be sure to e-mail the Friends and let them know that you are supporting the amended Splashtastic Dignity Plan with this donation. If you would be more comfortable sending me money, it’s as easy as e-mailing me and asking for my mailing address; please specify in your message whether you are planning to send me cash, a cheque, or an explosive device.

Together we can fill up this money pit with lukewarm and heavily chlorinated pool water and score one for human rights and banana hammocks.

I urge you to send me money today.

The deletionists over at Wikipedia apparently don’t feel that people’s pets are “notable“, even when the owners of said pets are famous enough to merit a redirect to a list of people who did something once in an election somewhere. I cannot believe that they would dare tell me that my dog is not worth five to thirty paragraphs of virtual ink.

Harley Wolfrom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Harley Wolfrom (disambiguation).

Harley Hemingway Artaxerxes McIntyre “Harles” Wolfrom (born December 16, 2002) is a champion watch dog and piano leg urinator in Canada. From an inauspicious start, Harley became an unlikely consumer of his own vomit. Harley has his own Twitter feed and his autobiography My Bad Breath, Myself  is tentatively scheduled for a November 2013 release.


I didn’t bother arguing with the secret cabal of Wikipedia editors (secret participant list available here), who apparently believe that it would be impossible to maintain a consistent level of quality and objectivity if everybody starts adding articles about their dogs, cats, or school trustees.

They also whine and complain that it’s hard to verify an article when it has no sources cited or when the person writing it is the person in the article (or in my case, the person who follows behind the notable individual with a plastic grocery bag wrapped over my left hand).

As if there’s a problem if someone who self-publishes a paranormal romance novel were to write themselves an entry where they self-identify as a “gifted fiction author who loves spaghetti and sleeping in on weekends”. (Note: my debut novel, Skylight: Kinky Zombie Sex may be available soon.)

And as if people really take issue with any of the following articles being in Wikipedia:

  1. Charlie Ross (Auctioneer): no sources, one author (now deleted from Wikipedia) called Poziedriving who had many of their contributions removed and deleted and had been warned about vandalizing. What’s notable about Charlie Ross’ entry is that he might actually be notable enough for Wikipedia based on available sources. The problem may be that he isn’t notable enough for anyone to have bothered to cite anything on him… is that a Catch-22 of some kind? Hold on… I’ll check…
  2. Scott Gale: the entire article is “Scott Gale is the music composer and artist for Saved By The Bell.” For whatever reason, the deletionists at Wikipedia don’t believe in having one-line articles on every person who’s coordinated music for a US television show. Yet they’ll devote multiple paragraphs to this other music guy named Scott, and they didn’t even have television back then.
  3. Adam Smith (Actor): no sources on this actor (born 1994) who is mentioned as having several uncited amateur and theatre school credits and a web series, all information added to Wikipedia by a user named Asmith94. There is of course no confirmation that Asmith94 has ever met Adam Smith the actor, but whoever that is seems to know a lot about him. Can Wikipedia’s sky-high notability standards be met if you have a celebrity stalker with an eerily similar name posting an article about you?

Let’s be clear: these are all legitimate Wikipedia entries.

Anyone who doesn’t feel that Charlie Ross’ work as an auctioneer is so important that no sources are needed is a censoring fascist, plain and simple. If citing is so important, maybe Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales should personally show me the link on Wikipedia that proves there’s no truth to the rumour I’ve just started that Betty White likes to kill and eat adorable puppies. Oh, wait, you don’t have that source, Jimmy? Guess I’d better go make some edits…

Likewise for the Wiki-Nazis who believe that the one-sentence article on music coordinator and two-time theme music composer Scott Gale has no value just because it has no mention of a reliable source and reads like someone watched the credits on their favourite early nineties teen sitcom and shouted out “hey! that music guy should have a single uncited sentence written about him on Wikipedia!”

And why should young Scottish actor Adam Smith not be kept on the site just because he is studying to be an actor as opposed to already being a famous actor? Why should we all just sit back and wait until he’s famous? I did some acting myself when I was younger, so I know a little bit about the ol’ thespian game; I won a bronze medal for best actor, coming in third place among the three actors in contention at a French theatre festival for Manitoba students. Note to self: create a Regan Wolfrom (award-winning French-language actor) page.

You know why Wikipedia wants to censor these pages? Because Wikipedia is prejudiced against unsourced material.

Well sorry, Wikipedia, but not every contributor has the good fortune to understand concepts like citation,notability, or conflict of interest. Not everyone comes from privilege like Jimmy Wales does, sleeping on those bags full of money he made from the Babe Report and The Babe Engine. Some people were either too young or too ill-informed to make oodles of cash from soft-core pornography during the golden age of profit-free dot-coms, and very few people have enough cachet at Wikipedia to continually edit their own entry without fear of being banned.

Like most libertarians, Jimmy Wales hates freedom. And unsourced material. And based on what I just read on Betty White’s Wikipedia entry, Jimmy Wales hates puppies enough to join in with Betty whenever she’s chowing down on French Poodle pie.

So if you are as angry and disgusted as I am, consider donating to Wikipedia. Not only does it keep co-founder Jimmy Wales gainfully occupied, preventing future editions of the Babe Report, it also ensures that the only ads on Wikipedia will be the ones promoting Jimmy Wales.

And why shouldn’t he be the only one to profit from his not-for-profit “temple of the mind”? He is the exclusive one-and-only founder, right? Right?

Some people might wonder who I’m making fun of with this post. Is it people who are criticizing Wikipedia, or maybe Jimmy Wales? So I ask you, gentle reader? Why can’t I just make fun of everyone?

I am truly saddened by the ignorance on display in Winnipeg this past weekend.

As part of the Winnipeg SlutWalk, a large group of women, men, and children — many of whom decided to make up some signs or get some from those people who printed my business cards — went out and marched from the Burton Cummings Theatre to the Legislature.

I’m not upset about that part.

How can so many people respond to this walk with what can objectively be classified as complete and utter ignorance? Not only was there a small group of nearby men shouting out mostly incomprehensible hatred as the people walked by (I believe the word “whores” was part of it, but I’m not 100% on that), but the most ignorant website commenters in Winnipeg history (and that’s quite an achievement in itself) decided to descend on news coverage with inexcusable statements like these (I’ve bolded some of the worst):

  1. “Rape is not always Just the fault of the man.”
  2. “If you walk like a duck, talk like a duck and look like a duck, you are probably a duck. Ladies, please dress like ladies and you won’t have this type of problem. If you wish to be treated as tramps the answer is simple. Look like a tramp, walk like a tramp and talk like a tramp. Sorry I have no respect for this type of female”
  3. “If you dress conservatively, and do not put yourself in a vulnerable position, your chance of being victimized are drastically reduced.”
  4. “Slutwalk is a joke. A total joke.”
  5. “Its doesn’t protest violence. It states I want to be self centered and have no regard for reality. Well I want to walk down any street with $100 bills hanging out of my pocket. but I know better.”
  6. “You want respect and some protection from attack, then show respect, act respectful, dress respectful. Which is more inviting for attack; a 200 lb 5’5″ woman dressed in jeans and sweatshirt or a 130 lb 5’5′ woman dressed in a scantly clad outfit baring much of her body.”
  7. “There’s been no real controversial issue about women’s rights to take a stand on recently and this one remark has provided more of a weak excuse to rally for women’s rights than a bonafide platform.”
  8. “Perhaps women can begin taking responsibility for their violent acts rather than blaming the nearest man all the time, that would go a long way to giving this movement credibility…of course the cops would have no one to arrest then.”
  9. “This makes me ashamed to be a woman. No wonder men don’t respect us. I wear clothing that clearly makes me look like sex object, and I expect men to not treat me like a sex object? Get a life.”
  10. “If you go to a party, get smashed, have no plan on how to get home, fall over any guy that buys you a drink, and hike your skirt up to your waist every 5 minutes… well, you still aren’t to blame if you get raped!”
  11. “In related news, sexual aggression was reportedly up 10% overnight in nearby bars and homes.”
  12. “Bottom line is: you run a risk of attracting the wrong men if you choose to have your boobs and butt hanging out of your clothing.”
  13. “I cannot believe that people are fighting for the right to dress like sluts, it’s really pathetic. Just think about it people.”
  14. “This walk was no different than the Zombie walk. A lot of incoherrent people wandering aimlessly and mindlessly with no thought given to the utter futility and silliness of their bizzare behaviour.”
  15. “These are just angry people who know damn well that their personal choice to dress this way places them also ironically by choice in harms way!”
  16. “Seriously, it’s common knowledge, dress conservatively, rapes go way down in numbers. Most of the time, woman bring these things on themselves. But that would be taking responsibility. Some would still happen, but the numbers would be drastically lower.”
  17. “If I dress myself in wieners and honey and walk through the bush, is it the bears fault or mine when I get eaten?”
  18. “Is it just me or aren’t the very women who participate in walks/demonstrations such as this, the very ones who are the least likely to attract unwanted male attention in the first place?”
  19. “The next time some naive young girl gets raped because of being dressed like a $lut, we should put some of the blame where it actually belongs. On these promoters of slutdressing who have convinced her that she has the right to dress any way she pleases no matter what.”
  20. “This is HYPOCRITE FEMINISM at its worst. The most abusive creature on the planet is the violent woman who knows the cops will blame the nearest man for her actions.”
  21. “Now i’m not about to go and rape anyone, but does anyone reading this think a guy does not choose who he rapes? He has to give it some thought. So if there is a woman dressed up or “slutty” vs. a homely looking person all covered up. My guess is he looks at the skanky one. I may be way off base but you don’t see too many ugly rape victims.”
  22. “More like Douche bag walk…LOL”
  23. “Wow! Some of these ladies sure have some ENTITLEMENT ISSUES!!”
  24. “I’m almost thinking this is for a weight watcher’s convention after looking through the pics….”
  25. “After looking at the picture of the three organizers , I can honestly say ….. they should  have NO WORRIES AT ALL about getting attacked…. I mean seriously…Look at them!!!”
  26. “These ugly chicks are just looking for attention. nobody would want them so they join the slutwalk cause there so nasty. look at them, eww. get out of here. the slutwalk has to be the funniest thing iv heard in years!”
  27. “Yar!Not a looker in the bunch!”
  28. “Oh yeah, one more note.  I have to agree that a great number of those that participated in the protest really had no reason to worry about getting raped … there is not enough alcohol or drugs in all of Manitoba for that to happen to some of them loud mouth yard-apes.”
  29. “Just another example showing how out of control these fembos are getting.”
  30. “Definitely there are people who don’t understand that flaunting is just as bad as the person who violates another person through unwanted physical contact.”
  31. “Useless Trashwalk, Time for your next positive STI test ladies”
  32. “The pupose of these events is for these people to advertise their promiscuity. It does serve a purpose, which is to clarify to men who do respect women of character that these are not the types you want to associate with. It tells clear thinking men that these are not women capable of meaningful lasting relationships. It serves to enhance the stature of honorable women.The end result is that men and women who can respect each other will connect. The women in these events will be relegated to interacting with men who are users and more likely to be rapists. Everyone gets what they deserve.”
  33. “Make me a sandwich”

From comments on the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun websites.

It seems like a convenient excuse for people to say “I don’t like the word ‘slut’, so I can’t support this movement.” The name SlutWalk brings attention from the media and the public by its very controversy, and it also weakens the power of a word used to oppress and belittle women.

The word “slut” is offensive because it is wielded as a weapon against women; only by taking control of the narrative can that word lose its power. We’ve seen this before with other words; the best example is “queer”. “Slut” is probably closer to the word “fag” in that there’s less chance of it ever gaining respectability, but it is possible to take away its power to harm. And it is never acceptable to use the word to attack or demean anyone, and it is up to each individual woman to decide whether or not she feels comfortable using the word to self-identify for any purpose.

Not only was each woman (and man) at the SlutWalk an individual deserving of respect, but every one was attractive in their own way, and I’m sure a large number of the women there would have been held up as attractive in any other context by the very men who felt the urge to insult their appearance. They did this, of course,  as a way of trying to take power away from these women. Since sexual violence itself is about the same thing, taking power away from someone else, it is shocking and unacceptable to see so many disparaging comments on the physical appearance of those involved.

I believe the victim blaming that overwhelms the comment feeds is not just the refuge of would-be rapists waiting for their opportunity, though sadly I know that there are far too many men in that camp; I believe a far more prevalent group is made up of people who want so much to believe that the victim is to blame, because to them it’s the only way they can feel that their loved ones can stay safe.

The thinking seems to be: if these women asked for it, if these small children or elderly ladies or mentally-disadvantaged people did something to bring on the violence, then my wife/daughter/mother/friend will be able to make different choices and avoid being attacked.

Not only is this untrue, but the very notion is dangerous, not only for awareness of the true nature of sexual violence, but also to the victims, many of whom already face their own concerns that they somehow brought the attack upon themselves. They don’t deserve to feel that way. They don’t deserve to be victimized a second time by callousness and ignorance.

It doesn’t matter how much faith you have in the idea that the victim could have somehow avoided the attack; that idea has been shown to be wrong again and again. I have known many survivors of sexual violence and sexual abuse; for every one of them there was no way for them to avoid what happened. The attack was not their fault in any way. Because of those survivors in my life, I do not have the option of living in ignorance on this issue. And considering that somewhere between 25-33% of women have been victims of sexual abuse (and perhaps as many as 15% of men), I doubt any of us can continue to be ignorant when so many around us are being affected.

All of us know people, be they women, children, or men, who are survivors of sexual violence. There’s no getting away from this, and we’ll never make any progress against sexual violence unless we fight against victim-blaming and stereotypes. Judging from the comment threads on the Free Press and Sun, we have a long way to go.

I took part in SlutWalk Winnipeg. And there I saw survivors regaining their voice.

It was important to them.

For that reason alone it should be important to all of us.

Maybe I can’t stay out of it. I have a big mouth, you see…

Lately the Manitoba Liberals have entered another exciting backstabbing phase, much like the last season of treachery that took place during the Elmwood By-Election and 2009 AGM. (Notice how I avoided “season of treason”? You’re welcome.)

One of the best things about Liberals is that we tend to be independent thinkers. That often results in the best ideas coming from the Liberals.

One of the worst things about Liberals is that we tend to be independent thinkers. That often results in people arguing in public and creating an impression that we can’t get alone with one another.

The NDP is successful because they know how to keep control. There are people in charge, and everyone else does what they’re told. That is why NDP policy conventions result in very little actual policy, since the real policies are decided by a small group of people beforehand and the less important people (known in the NDP charter as “members”) are generally ignored.

The Conservatives work in a slightly different way, but the result is the same. A small inner circle makes the calls, and everyone else follows orders. I’d guess around three of four people in Manitoba actually have any inkling as to whether or not Hugh is planning on privatizing Hydro; one of them may be Hugh, but I’m not sure on that.

I like that Liberals aren’t like this, that when you ask a Liberal to do something, they’re just as likely to argue with you about it than to just go and get it done. But this makes us bad at elections, since elections are about following a singular vision from start to finish while getting as many party volunteers to help out as possible.

Now we have a situation where we are fighting an election against two other major parties. One is tired and thinks “status quo” is working just fine for our sky-high crime rate and continued health care woes. The other is in my opinion about as trustworthy as the male enhancement e-mails I keep receiving for some odd and confidence-busting reason. But instead of seizing on opportunity, there are a good number of Liberals, some quite prominent, doing their best to mess up the chance to win new seats.

I understand that Anita Neville and friends are upset that one-time Liberal Gord Steeves decided to run for the Conservatives in Seine River. But strategically it makes no sense to support the NDP and a health minister who should have resigned years ago for her apparent indifference to a man’s death at HSC, no matter how personally offended they are by Mr. Steeves. (These endorsements are also an insult to the Liberal candidate for Seine River, Troy Osiname.) This is especially ridiculous considering that Gord Steeves has not changed; he is the same person he was five or ten years ago. Being angry at Gord Steeves switching sides due to opportunism is about as sensible as shaking your fist at the sun for setting at dusk, or cursing out your unneutered dog for humping your leg while you’re trying to watch The Amazing Race. It’s just the way things are. Anyone who believes that Gord Steeves was a Liberal due to deep ideological conviction must also believe that Wendy’s Baconator was created as a cure for the obesity epidemic.

Another story is the racial slurs being tossed around about Joe Chan in Logan. Now it’s not news to many political types that the NDP doesn’t like Joe, since Joe decided to exhibit some of that independent thinking that’s not well-received in orange-and-green-town. I don’t believe that the NDP orchestrated the letter, and I doubt that many people on the Liberal side believe that, either. For one thing, it doesn’t help the NDP, but it probably doesn’t do much for the Liberals, either. I think it just makes more people stay home on Election Day, and almost as importantly, makes potential volunteers for all parties wary of getting involved in politics.

For a party that the NDP and Conservatives love to dismiss, the Liberals are certainly getting some attention. I just wish the attention was a little more productive.

I’ve been mostly absent for much of the campaign due not just to being lazy and selfish, but for other reasons involving my work and personal life. But I’m helping out as much as I can now, working to make sure that the Liberal Voice is not silenced in this province. Because if we don’t have Liberals in Manitoba, we’re left with two parties that are practically allergic to critical thinking and new ideas. I don’t think there’s anything good about that.

There is an antique store that always has “close out” signs, as though he’s trying to clear out stock because he’s shutting down. Of course, this has been going on since the last millennium. I may or may not post occasional items on this blog between now and the year 3000.

UPDATE: I’m not going anywhere just yet. There are still things for me to complain about around here.

I’m moving away from this blog, to a totally different place.

So utterly different. It’s reganwolfrom.com and it’s still a blog, but I can’t really vouch for a lot of the content.

The blogger who is taking over (Regan Wolfrom) has promised me that he will mention politics once in a while, but the chances of it being Winnipeg or Manitoba politics is slimmer now that he does his best to not read the local newspapers. He actually spent twenty minutes describing in great detail the surly manner in which he’s been responding to the people trying to hand him free copies of Metro. I won’t get into details… who knows, maybe he will on his fancy new blog.

So check it out if you want… but don’t blame me if it offends, bores, or titillates you…

So the Jets are coming back (I refuse to believe they’ll be called anything else), and that is good.  I have found memories of the Jets games, from getting hit by a puck (luckily it didn’t strike my beautiful face) to those ice cream treats that I’ve yet to find anywhere else.  And let’s not forget the time I screamed so loudly selling 50/50 tickets that it was beyond stupid, yet not one person mentioned that I was actually damaging ear drums.  Or what about the bathrooms… I could go on all day.

But instead, I’m going to complain, because that’s more bloggy.  My wife and son almost met Bono the other day, when he was at the Burt.  But she didn’t because of a loud-mouthed union staffer with a bullhorn who decided that it was somehow appropriate to scream at honoured guests in front of children and infants.  That resulted in Bono being swept away by his bodyguard, and may have directly resulted in the misspelling of Winnipeg as “Winipeg” during the concert.  (Okay, that last one’s a stretch.)

But seriously?  How do unions think this supports their mission?  Unions were created to promote the cause of workers, but now they are better known for cronyism, bullying and stunts like this.  Who does that help?  Not the workers.

So now U2 may decide that Winnipeg is no longer a viable tour stop; when you get blacklisted by the one group that is known for social justice and the promotion of rights, that’s a good sign that you’re doing it wrong.

Seriously, I don’t like to union bash because unions were (and probably should still be) essential to guaranteeing the rights of workers.  But I’m finding it more and more difficult to keep my mouth shut at this kind of activity.

But enough about that… back to the Jets.  I’ve made a commitment to support our team, and I urge you to do the same.  Buy season tickets if you can afford them, or see about sharing season tickets with friends or fellow fans.  But barring that, just make the pledge that you will support your team however you are able.

Are you getting sick of people who think that things are getting better all the time?  I am, and it’s hard to ignore the biggest positive-thinking idiot I deal with on a daily basis: me.

I wasn’t always like this; I used to think the worst of everything. And I still know how to go on a serious rant about the driver in the lane next to me or those incompetent managers who can’t seem to keep a steady supply of apple slices in their restaurants. But that’s little picture stuff… the big picture, I’m afraid, is bright.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t know that bad things happen, or that I am unaware of the suffering that happens around me every day. I’ve seen far too many parents lose their children, and too many people living in bad situations that don’t have any easy solutions. But that doesn’t change the fact that overall, things improve over time through human progress.

The key to my thinking is the progressive/reactive rate of succession. This is different than the rate of reproduction, as social conservatives have a higher birthrate than social liberals. (I’m talking social only; fiscal conservatives may have a birthrate that correlates more with tax laws regarding dependents. That may be a bad joke or a startling insight.) What the rate of succession denotes is that the chance of a socially conservative family raising a progressive child is much, much higher than the chance of a progressive family raising a child who is socially conservative.

This means that every generation results in a higher percentage of socially progressive individuals compared to the one that came before. Inevitably, this change in the worldview of the population results in a shift in what society views as “progressive”. In 18th century Britain, “progressive” meant things like letting slightly less wealthy landowners vote. In 19th century America, “progressive” meant abolishing slavery and the even crazier notion of letting women vote. In the mid 20th century progressive meant sharing drinking fountains with people of all races, and later on the bar moved to improving the treatment of people with minority sexual orientations. What seems progressive to many of us today, such as letting two men or two women marry one another, will seem perfectly normal to our children. Whether or not you think that’s good or bad, it’s the future of humanity. At least until people start living forever.

But social progression is not just about equality, it’s about solving other problems in the world. Progressives can often seem whiny when they’re going on about climate change or fair trade or proportional representation, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. (However, I will still be annoyed when my daughter starts lecturing me on how poor I am at recycling my plastics.)

When I look at problems that seem almost insurmountable, I look at the progressive shift of society and realize that many of them will simply take time. That time is mixed in with equal parts hard work, sacrifice, and innovative thinking, but the cake won’t rise if you don’t give it the time it needs. Look forward, or look backward, and you can see the same recipe.

Convenient yet Controversial Example: Civil Wars

  1. English Civil War: on one side, Absolute Monarchy; on the other, Theocratic Oligarchy. Today, both sides are completely out-of-date in England. (For our younger readers, England used to be a country and not just a soccer team.)
  2. American Civil War (or more accurately, the War Between the States): On one side, States Rights and Slavery; on the other, A Stronger Federal Government and Far Less Slavery But Not Racial Equality. Americans seem to be divided today between people who think the war was all about slavery, and people who think the war was never about slavery. But mostly North and South just make fun of each other in private.
  3. Irish Civil War: we all think that this one is over, but we probably won’t be sure for another twenty years or so. I’ve never been there, so I can’t say if the idea of Protestants and Catholics killing each other in Belfast seems as utterly ridiculous to the Irish as it now does to the rest of us.
  4. Conflict in the Indian Sub-Continent (India/Pakistan/Bangladesh): This one’s not over, but I like to think that it’s headed in the right direction. My general rule: when the attacks get more frightening and even less rational (assault on Indian parliament, attack on Mumbai), it’s the beginning of the end of the conflict. However, events in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are mostly unrelated to India could prolong the trouble here.
  5. Conflict in the Middle East: Considered by many as the big one (which seems odd compared to the item above). Israel will never be secure if they treat Palestinian Arabs as enemies. The biggest boost to Arab regimes (and to Iran’s dictators) is Israeli reactionism in the face of extremist terrorism. The conflicts in Gaza, the West Bank, South Lebanon (wash, rinse, repeat) are continually “rebooting” the crisis for each succeeding generation, which I believe is slowing the progressive shift for Israelis and Arabs. I don’t live there, so I can’t claim to know for sure, but I sincerely believe that Israel will need to stop dropping bombs and start building Palestinian infrastructure (for Arabs, not Israeli settlers) in order to resolve this conflict. Demographics are against Israel on this one, and even with Jewish immigration there will be more Arabs than Jews in Palestine long before the end of this century. The only way to win the peace is to create a new federation that brings both nations together on equal footing. Two or more states, one federal government, with state legislatures being provided a veto procedure for major policy?  That’s my guess for 2060. Israel is already elected as one large constituency, so one day there could be 2-5 of them instead, including Gaza and the West Bank. And by 2150, the schoolchildren of Palestine will not even be quite sure which of the states were originally part of Israel. Many people living today wouldn’t like to see such a change, but it’s probably coming either way.

The same completely subjective reasoning can be applied to other situations, such as the energy crisis and the divide between rich and poor. We will solve these problems if we follow the recipe. Hard work, sacrifice, and innovation… mix it together in a large bowl and add an ample portion of time. It’s not just conjecture; it’s now something I can post on AllRecipes.com: the progressive shift will continue to make our world a better place.

I’m getting ever closer to accepting that I am not a politician by nature… part of that process is letting go of the self-censoring.  If I want to say something that’s controversial, I should just say it.  Life’s too short (at least it is now that I’m in my thirties) for continuous diplomacy.  Rather than playing it safe and listening to people yawn whenever I open my mouth, I’m going to give people a chance to truly hate me… I mean TRULY… like sick to their stomach, shaking with disgust… that’s the hate I’m talking about.  Or maybe people will like that I’m speaking my mind… it’s possible…

Winnipeg, MB

No real change in the city, even with large changes in council.

  1. Civic Election. I am pleased that Thomas Steen won Elmwood, because the NDP needs to learn that it doesn’t own a single piece of this city.
  2. Civic Election Redux. Wasn’t surprised to see Sam win again, since doing nothing while looking busy is one of the official passtimes of Winnipeg, His Worship being team captain.
  3. Bike Lobby. If I hear another mention of a project done “for the cyclists”, I will either vomit or simply descend into madness by perpetually paraphrasing Helen Lovejoy: “won’t somebody please think of the cyclists!”
  4. Roundabout/Traffic Circles/Turnamatrixes. Why did no one make any noise about the traffic circles?  Not “we need a story for the news” noise, but serious “WTF is wrong with the traffic department?!” noise.  “It’s just like Seattle”, I heard, but of course, Seattle does it based on citizen’s petitions and tends to actually install circles with dimensions that qualify as traffic circles.  Who asked for these circles?  Helen Lovejoy?
  5. North End shootings. What shootings?  It’s okay… we all forget about what happened to people who don’t live in the suburbs.
  6. University of Manitoba. Winnipeg used to be made fun of for comical reasons, like our creative drivers and big game mosquitoes.  But the U of M is trying its best to establish a new comedy routine.  It appears that some degrees are now being granted based on the same selection criteria as pinning the tail on the donkey.  I heard of someone who turned down a job at U of M to work in New Jersey!  There may be a punchline in there somewhere, but right now I feel like crying.
  7. University of Winnipeg. (Proud alumni of sorts.)  Not content to be the liberal arts college that time forgot, the U of W has decided to swallow up entire blocks in its urge to make gentrification and over-expansion a lifestyle choice.  I like shiny new buildings, especially when they block out superb examples of brutalist architecture (that’s sarcasm, friends), but wouldn’t it make sense to put some energy into improving the quality of the education?  Is U of W getting students because of academic excellence, or because for half the city the trip to U of M seems a little long?
  8. Rapid/Mass/Bus!Bus!Bus! Transit. I take the bus, but whenever I do, I feel like I’m kidding myself.  It’s not really saving me money, and I’m not sure I can justify the extra forty minutes it adds to my commute.  I saw someone I know taking the bus who is from all accounts wealthy and respected.  But do you know what my first thought was, deep in my Winnipeg psyche?  That guy must’ve gotten his license suspended; I didn’t realize he was such a drunk!  And that, my friends, is why Bus Rapid Transit is not the right choice for Winnipeg.  We’re just not bus people.  That’s probably why city council likes to increase the price of bus fare every two weeks.
  9. Canwest Global’s Big Screen. Yes, I know this is old news, and that Canwest has gone the way of my political ambitions, but seriously: who actually thought people would watch a screen that doesn’t face traffic?  It must be a big hit with the thirty people who work across the street, or the two guys who fish for cigarette butts in the garbage cans nearby.  Of course, that could be their target demographic.  I didn’t check how many commercials were for cigarette butt recycling operations.
  10. Canadian Museum for Human Rights. A museum about human rights in a city with what’s close to record-breaking levels of poverty, alcohol abuse, and untreated mental illness.  That’s like a Museum of Hockey Greatness at Maple Leaf Gardens.  Don’t worry, though… they’ve got most of their funding… by coercing government and crown corps (so more government) to hand over money.  I’m not usually a “don’t go to space, solve Earth’s problems first” kind of guy, but I feel like a hypocrite just living in a far-from-perfect city with a human rights museum.  I’m not saying that Winnipeg is a festering cesspool, but something about glass houses keeps popping into my head while I’m in the shower… which, by the way, interrupts my time thinking about hot pants.

Manitoba the Have-Not Province

This province and I have a love-hate relationship.  It’s hard to see so much potential and so much disappointment.

  1. Budget Deficits. If we change the law, they’re no longer deficits.  Next up: poverty now called “monkish asceticism”, adultery known as “creative fidelity”.
  2. Manitoba Hydro. Whistleblower says company is deluding itself; in fact, company is deluding itself, but by even bigger proportions.  Does Bob Brennan have an all-marble office at the top of the Hydro Building?  I don’t think I’ll ever be invited to find out.  None of it matters, though, since our government can just bail out Hydro if things go wrong.  And because we don’t actually admit to the existence of deficits…
  3. Drinking and Driving. People are dying at alarming rates, sometimes on their way to work, because some dumb f*** thought that sleeping on his friend’s couch was a fate worse than vehicular homicide.  Why is this not a bigger issue?  We’re madly in love with plug-in hybrids that may or may not work in our climate, but no one gives a crap about technologies that could prevent drunks from starting their cars.  But wait, you say… the drunk could just get someone else to start their car… but I have a theory… when idiots let idiots drive drunk, it’s usually an indication that those initial idiots are also drunk.  Would you stay up until five or six in the morning with a drunk a*** if you were sober?  I know you may have counterarguments, which I’d then have to counter… but this is supposed to be point form, so move it along, okay?
  4. The Bodies Exhibit. Unclaimed bodies, Falun Gong prisoners… either way, those people did not give their consent, so they are victims of an indecent act.  I read a comment about the exhibit: “Their bad luck is our good luck because this is something to be seen.”  I like that comment.  It’s like the Swiss banker who said “hey, look at all these thousands of gold teeth those nice Nazis just dropped off.  It’s too bad their previous owners had to get rid of them, but hey, we’re making money!” Godwin’s Law notwithstanding, I do think this analogy is not as much of an overstatement as you may think at first.  Because you don’t know where those bodies came from, and you do know that the Chinese government has been accused of harvesting organs from unwilling Falun Gong practioners.  But wait, David Matas‘ paws were all over that report, too; isn’t he the guy who wants those exhibit bodies buried simply because Manitoba law states that the bodies can’t leave the province?  What’s with that guy?
  5. Manitoba Slogans. I remember what happened the day that we became the land of Spirited Energy.  The influx of new investment, business, and immigrants was up 500% from the day before.  People felt like the slogan really captured what they were looking for, so they changed their life plans to be a part of the action.  That’s how all the great centres of innovation and industry were formed:
  • Rome, Italy – 1st Century BCE: “Roma, a dirty pit of disease and unemployment… but we do kill a lot of gladiators!”
  • Oxford, England – 14th Century CE: “Students: come for the deadly riots, stay for the plague.”
  • Silicon Valley, USA – 20th Century CE: “Only squares live in Boston.”

My point?  Slogans are silly.  They are either going to make us sound like the guy who is always last to be picked for intramural soccer, or they’re going to blatantly conflict with reality.  Do you know what brings success to a region?  Pre-existing success.  How do  you nurture and develop that initial success?  There are a lot of ways, like education, incentives, culture… but generally NOT SLOGANS.

Country formerly known as the Dominion of Canada

I love this country, not just because I live here, but because I honestly can’t think of another country that’s as close as we are to getting things right.

  1. Bashing the Monarchy. We have a Queen for a reason.  Her Royal Highness is detached and separate from normal society through wealth and privilege, FOR A REASON.  We do not elect presidents in our country; we believe that people elected through money- and media-skewed popularity contests tend to be narcissistic and ambitious to a dictatorial fault.  So we have a person who is outside of the “rat race” to be there to ensure that if things go very wrong in our political structure, that person (or a local representative of similar mindset) can step in and dissolve the whole bunch.  It may not be an ideal solution, but anyone who followed US politics from 2000-2009 may agree that being a republic has an even uglier side than the occasional Heir to the Throne’s mention that he’d like to be reincarnated as a tampon.
  2. The NDP-Liberal Merger. There is no idea that would be quicker to kill the Liberal party than merger with the NDP.  As Canadians base much of their identity on not being American, so do many Liberals base their political life as being different than the NDP.  I like left-leaning Liberals, just as I like right-leaning Liberals… but the notion that cherished liberal beliefs should be set aside for the views of a party that exists for union members first and everyone else maybe sometime later is enough to make me start wondering if there’s enough progressive left in those Conservatives to make me a Harperista.
  3. Chicanery in the House of Commons. I would love to vote for a party that disciplined its members for showing a lack of decorum in the House and beyond.  I’d like there to be a party that actually realized that this is an issue that is destroying any remaining respect that Canadians have for their politicians.  At times I’ve said and done things that may not be in keeping with what I believe; it’s part of being human.  But I don’t make a career out of it.
  4. Hatred of Quebec. What is this, 1995?  I still hear that joke about building a wall around La Belle Province and filling it with water.  Granted, it’s fun to make GOOD jokes about the Quebeckers when you’re among friends (like when you’re in Acadia; those people know some really good ones), but let’s be honest.  What would Canada be without Quebec?  Answer: North Dakota.  A surprisingly beautiful place and good people, but no one goes there for the cosmopolitan atmosphere.
  5. Hatred of Aboriginals. We are all treaty people… there is no way around that.  If you don’t like it, see if your distant relatives in Britain, Germany and/or the Ukraine will take you back.  Oh, they don’t want you, either?  Seriously, though… what would Canada be without Quebec and our aboriginal peoples?  Well… we’d no longer qualify as North Dakota.

Other Items

Miscellany.  Its inclusion here is only to allow for the use of the word “miscellany”.

  1. Being Unfriended on Facebook. Why does it hurt so much?  So VERY MUCH?  Well, not that much, but when I saw that someone had dropped me it was worse than losing ten Twitter followers (hell, I’d unfollow me if I could).  It’s like that person is saying that our friendship fifteen years ago didn’t mean a thing…  I guess it didn’t, but to just go and unfriend me…
  2. Red Lobster. Who actually knows a group of people who are all willing to eat seafood?  This is more a mystery than a complaint.
  3. Payday Loans. I hate that people profit from the poor financial decisions and situations of others, but I have trouble envisioning other ways for a person who needs two hundred bucks OR ELSE to get the cash.  Why can’t there be more easy answers?
  4. Self-absorbed Bloggers. Self-important windbags born with silver spoons in their mouths, who type their rants about traffic circles and Facebook without actually wondering if they are contributing to society in a meaningful way.  Couldn’t they be spending this time trying to cure cancer?  Or reading to old people?  Or cleaning up the fifteen garbage bags that they piled up next to their garage two weeks ago?  Truly disgusting.

Note to startled onlookers:  Not only was I not drunk when I wrote the above, but I even saved the draft and reviewed it later.  I really have no explanation or defense for having pressed the Publish button.

I’ve been silent for a while, and that silence will likely continue for the next few weeks.  I’m part of a new venture that will be launching shortly.  Like most visionaries, I’m hoping to hop on board this Internet phenomenon that I read about back in 1995.

Meanwhile, I have other news.  I have two short stories available for purchase… an excellent addition to your Regan shrine:

Aether Age: Helios

M-Brane SF Quaterly #1

As far as political issues and current affairs… no comment at the moment.  We’ll see if I get mouthier as the days get longer.