jabberwoky for Doug

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.
That opening stanza for Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem, Jabberwoky, is pretty familiar to most people.  Most.  Probably not my friend, Doug.  Doug is much more a no-nonsense kinda guy and we are all the better for it.  His blunt honesty is brutal in a sledge-hammer kind of way and any silly walk or delusionary wandering from reality is strictly forbidden in his presence.  Keep it real or get the hell out!
My hyperbole, colourful speech and/or generally accepted use of social BS is blasted from our conversations like Little Boy on Nagasaki.  I am usually left reeling from some reality check reaming, staggering from some speech slagging and beaten by be-ration when I leave his truth, whole truth and only-the-truth company.  I am reprimanded into plain-speaking for at least as long as it takes to get away.
I usually readjust to the world of lies by dropping into a car dealership, reading the news or listening to a politician……only takes a minute of immersion to erase my newly found focus on reality. 
But then Doug read my book………
OMG!  ‘Gobsmacked’, ‘anthropormorphized’ and ‘Plimsoll line’ started a word war between us.  He hit me first with typical abuse over my use of flowery prose (which he referred to as big words) but followed that up with a few unusual ones of his own.  He seems on a mission to fix me.
The last word he threw at me was kind of fitting: ‘paraprosdokian’ (means: a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence, phrase, or larger discourse is surprising or unexpected, often in a humorous or anticlimactic way).  He thinks I do that.  The fact that he sent that word to me is an example (kinda) of that.  It was a surprise.  It came from him — of all people! He was presenting a walking example of the word!
I think I am in for it.  I am gonna have to keep it simple from now on.  Hammer simple.  Simple simple.  Homer-Simpson-simple.  OMG!
I mention all this, really, because it illustrates a surprising benefit from having written a book.  I am getting some comments on it, of course, but they are almost all wonderful, personal and illuminating comments that reveal a lot about the reader and not just a few things about the author previously unknown.   I am learning how people read and understand the (my) written word, I am hearing my own stories told back to me with emphasis on different parts than I intended.  I am hearing about my use of vocabulary and what my written ‘voice’ is.  I heard yesterday a quote that amused a reader all to hell and it was not intended to be funny at all!
And, unsurprisingly, Sally is being uber lauded for being a saint and an Amazon.  AND a great editor!
In effect, writing a book and getting comments is like writing an e-mail and sending it to thousands.  The responses you might get make you re-think what you wrote and I am sure everyone has had that experience…?  Imagine that feeling times a thousand!
This is all a lot of fun; way more fun than I expected and NOT just because of the extra (and always sought after) attention but also because it is a segue into more personal, intimate and funny conversations.  Honestly, some long standing relationships seem somewhat rekindled over it.  What a gift!
Put bluntly, Doug: it was all worth it.

Economics 101 or is that 1.01? (I always have trouble with the decimal point)

Tim Geithner’s book Stress Test is illuminating already- and I am only half way through.

He was chair of the NY Federal Reserve and an advisor to Bill Clinton.  He also became Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury.  He was one of three executive BIGGIES during the recent financial crisis and Tim never even got his degree in economics.

His book is mostly about dealing with the American capitalist system and doing so as it grew to encompass all the countries over the last few decades in the phenomenon known as globalization.  The first half is about how he ‘learns on the job’, follows the practices of those whom he followed and how the world of capital and the economies embracing it, are basically out of control.

I think the second half is about how he and two others captained the world through 2007/08 despite not knowing very much about what would work or not.

‘Course he has yet to actually use those words but he he writes of ‘bubbles’, crashes, recessions, depressions and the like throughout.  He seems to expect financial chaos as part of the system.  And he openly admits his lack of understanding.  He talks of “no one really understanding the complexities of derivatives and credit default swaps and all the fancy financial instruments that have been allowed to proliferate”.  And he talks about the inherent inabilities of regulatory bodies to influence much.  This is kind of telling when you consider that understanding and regulating the banks and Wall Street was the job he was always hired to do.

He also told about the International Monetary Fund riding to the rescue of faltering economies with strict economic reforms attached to the rescue only to change their minds half-way through their work.  The over-riding impression: no one really knows what the hell was going on before the 2007/08 crash and I am inclined to surmise that none of them has gotten much more learned since.

But, never mind.  The world’s economies revolve around confidence and manipulations and that is psychology on a monumental scale.  I doubt that any one person  –  especially economists and bankers (not known for their expertise or even empathy with the humanities) – could have a grasp on such matters at any time.  George Soros, maybe.

“So, what is your point, Dave?”

Well, to paraphrase Rafe Mair, “Never overestimate the abilities of experts”.  Basically, that means that the people in charge don’t know what they are doing.  Which isn’t news, really.  But Geithner is pretty open about it.  They just ‘wung it’ during the financial crisis and, in the short term, it seems to have worked.

In the long term, it won’t.  It can’t.  Impossible.  Very briefly: all economies are now linked and yet none of them are equal.  In fact, the capitalist system is based on having inequalities and it has built-in mechanisms to keep it that way.  Thus one can expect financial chaos to be forever present somewhere.

Being linked means inequities and people revolt over that kind of thing.  If they don’t revolt, they at least migrate and that is already happening on a massive scale as the rurals go urban, the southerners go north and the easteners and the westerners get riled up (Islam).

And don’t forget: all economies are based primarily on the ups and downs of confidence and who has that?

Do you have confidence in the system?

Well, yeah.  You do.  Otherwise you would be buying bullets instead of bargains at Costco.  But is your confidence high?  Probably not. Most people are feeling the financial pinch and the main message in the news is fear.  One would have to be ridiculously Pollyanna-ish to remain bullish and optimistic in the face of what they see and experience around them.  Especially given climate change.

But we are not the gauge by which to judge.  Think about the Muslims.  Think about the Africans.  Think about the average Asian or Indian or Pakistani or Russian.  Think about the ‘drug-cartel’ managed countries of Central and South America. The only reason most of those folks aren’t showing the signs of lessening confidence in their system is because they had very little in the first place.   Economic globalization is exacerbating that sense of insecurity already and many of them are leaving for safer and higher ground – namely, here.

I can’t help but see it this way………the ship is sinking slowly and all the lifeboats have been launched or are being lowered.  But there are way more passengers than there is room in the lifeboats. And the weather is bad and promising to get worse.  Now THAT is basic economics – supply and demand  – all in a bad and unpredictable climate.

Don’t believe me?  Read Stress Test.

Lying off the grid

We’re kinda funny…in an old geeky-cum-hippy kind of way.

I went into a store yesterday and bought four jars of O’Keefe’s heel cream (for split heels) and the old crone (older than me by at least ten years) asked me why I would buy four.  “We live off the grid.  If I’m going to buy one, I buy at least two and, if my wife isn’t around, I’ll buy four.  In that way, my storage shed fills up.”

“Why do you want your storage shed to fill up?”

“Well, you know….when the world goes all to hell, I’ll have extra heel cream…or whatever…to last me.”  

“How long do you think you have to last?”

“A year.  Maybe two.”  

“Then what happens?”

“I’m out of heel cream.”

She smiled and suggested I should maybe get a few more (since my wife wasn’t with me) just in case things weren’t put back together in the two years I had allowed.  I thought about it but resisted.  I didn’t want to look crazy.

Stroking her wrinkly, 80 year-old cheeks with both hands, she said, “Let me give you a tip, dear….you know, for your storage shed….get some coconut oil.  It’s great for keeping your skin smooth.”

“Well, that is fine for you.  Beauty is important to a woman.  But I am already ugly and smooth skin isn’t going to help me, especially if the world has gone to hell.”

“But smooth heels will?”

In many of our interactions around the city, our living off the grid comes up in conversation.  I admit that I am inclined to let it slip out rather easily but, to be fair, that fact-of-our-life seems to affect a lot of transactions.  “Do you ship this stuff?”  “Depends. How far away are you?”  And so it starts….

“Oh, God!  This is the best chutney I ever tasted!  Can I get a jar of it?”  “We make it ourselves for our restaurant but how much do you want?”   “Will it keep for  a year?”  “Why do you want it to keep for a year?”  And on it goes………

It’s fun.  People are always interested in where we live.  We get to answer the same questions over and over.  Hard to beat that for entertainment, eh?  But the real fun part is hearing about how they, themselves or their friend, parents, neighbours or co-workers, are always talking about getting off the grid.  Their lack of knowledge usually prompts me to get a little crazy.  “Do they know what off the grid really means?”

“Well, like not paying BC hydro or watching TV.  Right?”

“Close enough.”

“So, you don’t watch TV!!??  You don’t pay Hydro??  So, what about the internet…?”

“No.  None of that.  We hunt, gather sea food, chop wood, kill bears and grow our own food.  Biggest expense is bullets and bandages, ya know?”

“Oh, I don’t think I could do that.  I like shopping too much.  And I couldn’t live without my sit-coms.  And my husband loves hockey.  We could never do that.”

“Hard to beat cougar huntin’…chargin’ through the bush, dogs a-howlin’, blastin’ away in all directions…and all that blood….pretty fun… Most people have no idea how good BBQ cougar tastes.” 

Eeeeeuuuw… I don’t think we could do that.  My husband has bad knees. And all my girlfriends and I like to do yoga.  I just don’t think we could do all that.  We’ll stay in Kerrisdale, I think.  It has everything we want.”

“Well, if you ever get the urge to kill some bears or something, let me know.  We have a rustic back-woods cabin you could use.  No plumbing, but we got a stink-hole.  Got a skinnin’ shed with a smokehouse attached too.  And I am thinking of making a sweat-lodge if that has any appeal.”  

“Gee, thanks.  Maybe some day…”

Rants end

I have rants up the wazoo, plenty up my sleeve for a long time to come, actually.  But I am thinking this one may be my last (or near to last) to go public.  Only a fool paints his butt red and wiggles it at a bull.

When Bill C-51 is passed and Canada’s secret police have even MORE powers (which, by the way, should be read as Canadians having FEWER personal powers, rights and freedoms as citizens), then expressing myself freely will no longer be legal.  I am sure I will be able to express myself in some way but I’ll have to get a permit first and be vetted by security. They’ll screen me.  I’ll have a ‘file’. They may haul me in and hold me in jail for whimsical reasons – because they won’t need any real reasons.  They may even taser me for resisting arrest and striking an officer – which will not be true (not the first time, anyway) – but they will say it and that seems to be good enough for what will soon be our justice system. The government bully is just getting even more belligerent.

But you already know that.  C-51 is in the news and you know it is wrong.  Don’t you?

So, here is the rant-cum conspiracy theory: We have had no terrorist attacks in Canada since the Squamish Five blew up a shack in the wilds of BC.  We’ve had nut-bars going on shooting sprees or buying pressure cookers but, of course, we have had those almost as long as the US has.  Marc Lepine was the closest we came to a terrorist but he doesn’t count as a terrorist because his war was with women rather than the government.

Admittedly, the odd nut-bar has identified with some political terrorists and dressed up in funny garb to affect the ‘look’ but none of our home grown nutters were affiliated in any way with any organization whatsoever.  And the government knows this.

But they want more powers anyway.  As soon as C-51 passes they will get them.  They do not want us to resist that bill.  And so they skew the news reports.  Maybe even make them up?  And the media is complicit.  And they pump the propaganda.  And we are manipulated and truth and honesty and facts are lost while fear and prejudice is fomented. It is blatant.  It is planned. It is evil.  And we are falling for it.

Today I read that some remarkably fit-looking fellow wearing a face-covering dressed in an exceptionally clean and neat camo jacket spoke on an alleged terrorist video representing the al Shabaab terrorist campaign in Somalia (probably the only well-fed, clean Somalian in the country).  Our video’d terrorist referred to an attack on the West Edmonton Mall (WEM).

Right.  A Somalian terrorist threatens the WEM at precisely the time our nation is contemplating imposing a police state by way of new legislation?  Could the timing be any better?  Or could the timing be so good as to be implausible?  I think the latter.  Canada is NOT above black flag operations and this sure smells like one to me.

Again – don’t get me wrong.  There are such things as terrorists.  They do horrific things like beheadings and stuff.  They shoot people.   They are bad.  Mind you, we shoot people, too.  And our allies do beheadings (Saudi Arabia) and we all do horrific things when we want to or need to but I get it; we do bad things because we are the good guys and they do bad things because they are the crazy bad guys.  Simple really.  We are good.  They are bad. Let’s kill ‘em.  Not only are we doing good work, we get their oil.

So, where is the doubt coming from, Dave?

I have no doubt.  I know how it works.  Us against them.  Harper is just telling us the truth. They lie.  So we kill ‘em. What’s not to like?

The problem for me is that we are actually and obviously lied to by our own government in so many ways. All the time.  They feel the need to lie to us, manipulate us, control us, take our rights, freedoms and sense of well-being.  They fear-monger us.  They push propaganda on us. They tax us and restrict us and watch us and even arrest and taser us and, for the life of me, I don’t understand that because we are clearly NOT the enemy, the enemy is an obviously nasty but well-dressed Somalian or an ISIL member.

Now, to be fair, and if I am being honest…..I, personally, have never suffered at the hands of a Somalian.  Or ISIL member.  Or any terrorist in Canada.  I know, I know, the terrorists are evil and they behead people but, well, I haven’t seen it.  Not up close. But I have seen our police taser and kill innocent people.  I have heard Harper’s outright lies and blatant propaganda. And I see our armed forces bombing them.  That has to make one think….no?

But do I have doubts about our government and it’s intentions?  Of course not; we are the good guys and they are the bad guys and they need to be killed and we need to be lied to for our own good.  Get used to Harper taking care of you that way, it is only going to get worse.

A little sentimental, perhaps…?

Our boat is out of the water, stored on the hard.  We put it up when we leave for a month or more.  Pull the transom plug and let ‘er rain and drain.  Usually that works just fine.  But I have two boats (and Sal has one more plus a small flotilla of kayaks and dinghys).  One of the boats is kinda permanently stored up on the beach in the manner that is so common to coastal folks.  After a few years the bushes grow up around it and then, after a few more years, there are more and bigger trees and the boat just disappears.   But last month, my permanently-on-the-hard boat almost disappeared ahead of it’s time.  The tides were so high and the storm surge so strong the waves came up higher on the beach than ever before and lifted the boat off it’s cradle.  Had it not been tied, it would have floated off. As it was, my neighbour saw it all askew a few days later and made the effort to re-position it.  Just part of being neighbourly for him.  It is likely fine.

But this global warming thing almost bit me in the boat.

When we get back, something will be amiss.  Always is.  A pilot light won’t start in the stove.  The fridge will stay warm.  Water pump makes noise.  Whatever.  Or, maybe we just forgot something we really needed.  Going home is such a wonderful feeling but Murphy usually adds a little reality to the moment.  Getting re-established and comfortable again usually takes at least all of one day futzing and putzing, fiddling and jury-rigging, making amends with Murphy.   It is rarely ever serious (altho losing the boat could have been…?) but there is always something.

I am kinda looking forward to it.


I like resolving little hiccups, but I am not keen on the catastrophic.  If all the panels fell down, I would be upset. If the water line broke, no biggie.  I can be a handyman and have it going in no time and still get kudos for being manly.  So, arriving is a gamble.  “I wonder how it will go this time…..?”

One thing is pretty dependable – my neighbour.  I call a week before we arrive and ask if it is possible for him to launch the boat and leave it at the other island for my arriving convenience. He always says ‘yes’.  Never a problem.  What isn’t said out loud is the obvious: the boat weighs a ton (with the engine), it is ‘on the hard’ which makes it weigh all that much heavier and it is awkward as hell to re-launch.  My neighbour always makes sure the engine is in running condition, too.  Of course, I leave it ready to go but I know how Murphy works. Nothing starts the first time. There is futzing and putzing and jury-rigging involved there, too.   ‘Course, it was never a mentioned problem for him and all is good and we are supported and befriended as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

And the nice part about it is that it is mostly like that.  We are all mostly like that to each other up there.  It is very, very good.  I miss the place and I miss my neighbours.  I am ready to go home.

And it will be very, very good to get back again for all that.

The Days Dwindle Down to a Precious Few…

….well, tolerable few, anyway.  We are getting near the end of our winter sojourn, our hiatus, our respite.  Our big shopping foray.  Our winter dip in the shallow end.  We have stayed our welcome but only just, we could be past it…hard to say. Ten days from now, we begin the trek home and what a convoluted trek that will be taking us first to Victoria before the car points in the right direction. I am getting closer to home by the day and I can taste it.  Homesickness, bittersweet.

Mostly just sweet.  If there is any bitter it is just in the anticipation of creaky bones, aged muscles and loads of loads to carry and schlep when we get home.  We are once again heavily laden from the treasures and junque that will fill the car and the trailer to the brim. We are much less like vacationers and more like outfitters, salvagers and opportunists with too much time on their hands and too much treasure at hand.  Did I tell you I got two more winches?

Seriously, my only limitation to acquisition is the vehicle and trailer capacity and, as you know from last year, I added the roof rack from hell to extend our potential for more and we use it!  This year I cheated and shipped a 1400 pound box by truck and barge.  I could star in Hoarders: the hermit kind.

Sally, usually the voice of reason, has become an enabler.  She ferrets about, collects and finds like I do now.  She no longer complains about a salvage op or a junque trawl.  She’s onside so long as it is NOT in Surrey.  She hates Surrey.  The other day, she elicited a promise from me; “I don’t care if there are ten free, new winches, nine new gensets and a Toyota Tundra with a camper on it, all for free!  We don’t go to Surrey!  OK?  Deal?”

I had to agree.  I have always maintained (even after the first Pit Bull launched itself at Sal only to be stopped by the barbed wired, chain-link fence as it splattered all-legs pressed against the fence) that one could not determine the potential for ‘good junque’ by the neighbourhood.  “Sal, think about it, a person in Surrey could have a good used car, could have a good used tool, some nice salvaged construction materials.  They could advertise on Craigslist like anyone else and have the item of your desire like anywhere else, eh? Why not?”

That argument pretty much won the day twenty years ago when we were looking for a step van (another story) but the legitimacy of the argument eroded as the years yielded one major (and usually scary) disappointment after the other.  I confess to having serious doubts about anything-Surrey for the last few years but I refused to let experience be my teacher.

But Sal became more and more convinced that Surrey was a black hole for honesty and truth.  Even when she saw an ad that looked great and promised even better, she’d say, “It won’t be true.  It’ll be bait and switch. You’ll see.”   And we’d go.  And it was.  Some so blatant you wonder how they can answer the door.

But I mention this mostly because of the new Surrey phenomena of last minute location disclosure.  Seriously.  It is weird.  “So, I saw your ad for an anvil.  The blacksmith’s anvil? On Craigslist?  Do you still have it?”

“Unh.  You better talk to Sam.  He has the anvil for sale.”

“Well, I don’t have to talk to Sam if he still has it.  I can, it seems, just come and see it.  No?”

Unh, like, you better talk to Sam.”

“OK.  Is Sam there?”

“Unh, I dunno….I ‘ll go see….but, like, he likes it that you leave a number, OK?  And then he can phone you back…OK, like?”

“You live in Surrey…right…am I guessing right…?”

“Unh, do you want to leave a number?  Sam says he’ll call you right back.” (……..if you are talking with Sam why not just put him on?…Oh, never mind).  I leave my number and a few minutes later Sam calls.

“Yeah, Sam here.  Ya wanna anvil?”

“Yeah.  That anvil seems the perfect size for me.  About thirty pounds, maybe 40?”

“I dunno, man, its f’ing heavy, like.”

“Yeah, OK.  Give me your address and we’ll come out.  Is today good for you?  Mid afternoon-ish?”

“Yeah.  I’ll be here.  Phone me when you get close and I’ll give you the address.”

“OK.  Fine.  But close to where?  Don’t you have to at least give me a hint as to what is the nearest large intersection or something…”

“Yeah, like, OK…right…unh..we are close to 132nd and 80th ave.  Ya know Surrey?”

“More and more all the time.”


“Never mind.  I’ll call as we enter your airspace…see you in an hour or so…”

Any one of several scenarios then unfolds: the anvil was sold or was made of ceramic or wood or was out back in the chicken coop near where the Pit Bull was tethered.  They would only open the door an inch and, scanning me with a flinty eye, would only tell me where to look.  The smells wafting out from the door ajar suggested that the chickens lived and died in the house along with them and a gro-op. Sally was pulling on my arm and saying in hissed tones, “See!  What’d I tell you.  Let’s get out of here.”

“Geez, now that we are here, sweetie, don’t you at least wanna see if we can get past the Pit Bull?”

Surrey, BC.  Don’t Craigslist there.

So, anyway, we are going home soon. Lots of stuff.  Wintertime pretty well spent.  But no anvil this time.  Lots of weird stories about Craigslist characters, Surrey neighbourhoods and Sal’s growing bias towards the closer proximity neighbourhoods for buying second hand junque.  And I have to agree with her, I am afraid.  I gave Surrey over twenty years and came up with zip every time.  It’s just that not too many people living in Shaughnessy have second hand old anvils, ya know?.


Fleeting Boson-Higgs

We went to do a ‘book signing’ the other day at an alternative school.  The kids there don’t do well in ordinary schools and, in some cases, don’t do well at all anywhere.  A friend of ours is a teacher there. We did not draw a big crowd.  Maybe ten or so.

In fact, one kid had to be dragged in.

Ostensibly, I was there to talk about our book.  But I first spoke about me not feeling ‘right’ in the cul de sac, feeling a bit trapped working urban, being a smidge restless for a bit of adventure and, while getting on in years, feeling those feelings even stronger.  Some of the kids paid attention, most looked at the tops of their desks.

I spoke about not really needing the systems that society had to offer, at least not as much as I or most people thought we did. I spoke about being able to grow food, catch fish, build crap and conduct medical responses to my own physical problems most of the time.  Of course, I admitted to living in the system most of my life and I gave credit to the ‘system’ when I used it.

I really just pointed out that I didn’t need or use the support systems as much as I used to. Nor did I want to.  And I pointedly spoke a similar view about so-called education.  I told them I learned better when I was interested and I was never interested while in school.  All the kids were paying attention at that point.  So were the teachers.

So was an ex-nurse.

I spoke about money, jobs, cost-of-living and the umbilicals of life that we don’t really notice if we are born and raised with them – such as telephones, TV, cable, cell phones, internet, roads, electricity grids, plumbing and sewage and the BIG networks of health, education, politics, employment and living that we are so enmeshed and invested in without really being aware.  I spoke about the beauty of the forest and the feeling of being alive when outside even though I confessed to spending time writing my book and watching cheap B flicks at night.  I guess I conveyed a sense of balance…I don’t know…I was just wingin’ it and talking about our book and our life.

Some of the teachers asked questions.  One of the questions was about our dog.  Sal went and brought Fiddich in.  He has a presence.  The classroom came alive.

I talked about rebelling, swimming against the current, taking risks, NOT planning, leaving the herd and all that ‘freedom’s-just-another-word-for-nothing-left-to-lose’ kind of stuff you might expect from a guy wingin’ it and the the kids themselves started asking questions.

On the face of it, I was a bad influence.  Given another few minutes, I might have advocated dropping out of school and finding a carnival or tramp steamer to sign on with. The interesting part was that the teachers would likely have been the first to sign up!

Of course, it is easy to advocate taking alternative actions in an alternative school.  Even if the teachers were NOT receptive (but they were), I could always hide behind the fact that it was, in fact, a place for alternative thinking and learning that was also in essence what the book was about.  I could safely advocate risk without risking criticism or the bums rush.  In effect, I was a poseur except for the fact that we had done it.  I certainly had no alternatives to offer the kids (or the teachers).  I could only tell our story.

But the result was that all but one of the kids got engaged.  All of them asked questions (even the kid who was dragged in).  All of them made eye contact and laughed at the stupid stuff (there was a lot of stupid stuff).  And the teachers were surprised.  The teachers were actually shocked to see the drag-in so engaged.  The idea of Alternative was connecting with everyone, teachers, students, everyone.  It was good.

We left and went to our car so that we could go shop at Costco.  The kids went back to class.  The ‘life’ moment had passed.  Fleeting, like Boson-Higgs.


Bandwagon Blockadia

I don’t know if Naomi Klein coined the term, Blockadia, but it is, it seems, the new name for universal protest.  And it is growing.

Before we get into what that term means, this post is a small diatribe about the pathetic excuse we refer to as the media, a mild condemnation of BIG GREEN (Sierra Club, WWF, etc.) and a note of optimism regarding the way we all work together when faced with threat.

Seems we don’t rely on the BIG LIE MACHINE as much as I thought.

OK…Blockadia (the term for protest Klein employs for resistance all over the globe) is a grass roots, local and disorganized force for resistance to BIG INDUSTRY beyond the local level.  It is (mostly and currently) protest against the petroleum based economy in essence and, while likely a bit hypocritical (in that protesters drive to the protest site), the protesters are totally aware that petroleum AND BIG BUSINESS is the root cause of global warming and that they have to do something about it.

Seems the first thing they are doing is stopping the petro projects before they get off the ground.  In BC (where I live) popular anti-petro sentiment has grown to the extent that the Northern Gateway project is likely dead-in-the-water.  Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion into Vancouver is also facing overwhelming resistance.  After the disaster that was Mount Polle, a mine with open holding ponds will likely be severely resisted, too. The hoi poloi is protesting BIG industry all over the place.

The news is that this is coming from local people, disorganized except for the fact that they are the local and most directly affected by whatever it is they are protesting. Basically, Blockadia is NIMBY grown large. And NIMBY doesn’t do press releases or fund raise.

I write about it because Naomi did.  But the shock in her writing is that this kind of thing is a local phenomenon everywhere.  From rail-lines carrying toxic sludge through small communities to refinery expansions in big cities, people all over the world are organizing locally and saying NO.  Even Mongolians are protesting coal mining in China!

And there is no well-funded, well-known BIG GREEN MACHINE behind them.  These are local people resisting BIG INDUSTRY simply because they are against any more earth-poisoning at any level. It would appear that green consciousness is alive and kicking hard all over the world.

Ironically, fracking seemed to be the straw that broke the dam.  Even tho oil is the big bogey-man, it was fracking being done close to affluent neighbourhoods that turned mainstream system supporters into radical freaks.  Behind every cloud…..

‘Course, you won’t hear any of this from the media.  “Who cares if a group of neighbours blockades a pipeline extension in New Brunswick. Lead the news with the puppy stuck in the well and cut to the weather!”   But it turns out that particular local protest in NB did make the news after all due to the RCM Police over reaction at the time and their snipers aiming rifles at moms and tots.  But BIG media is generally NOT covering the BIGGER story of quiet, locally-based but international resistance to BIG OIL.  And it is happening all over the world.  Even the Nigerians are starting to fight back despite the Niger Delta being likely the most polluted-but-still-populated place on earth!

The real story is international resistance to BIG institutions.  You get puppies on your local news station instead.  But somehow the people are getting the message.

Does that mean they will win?  Who knows?  In lesser countries protesters go to jail for years simply for protesting.  Some are disappeared.  Hundreds if not thousands have already been killed by police and even we in the supposedly freer countries have had grannies carted off to jail and youth gassed and beaten.  BIG INDUSTRY pays for government and government pays the police.  Conflict is likely to escalate before it ebbs.

“Dave, why tell me this?”

Well, two reasons: people should know that their local protest, if not part of a larger organized movement is part of a larger consciousness movement.  If you are protesting the removal of mountain tops in Appalachia or fracking in Greece or pipelines through Wyoming, know that more and more people are doing what you are doing except they are doing it in their local area.  Resistance is universal and international and you should know that others are on your side at least in spirit and sentiment.  And all this on a scale that you are not likely aware of.

And secondly, I suggested in the last blog that conflict will escalate not only because police actions foster resistance but because people the world over are fed up with the BIGGIES and they are resisting.  That one of the BIGGIES is their government and the corrupted party politics system has yet to be openly resisted may just be a matter of time ….or it may never come to that if government ever gets a clue and starts doing the right thing.  Regardless, everything else BIG will feel the increasing resistance of the people.

Somebody had to point that out to us.  And Naomi Klien did (THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING). She makes a compelling argument that the revolution has begun in some small but growing corners of the world.  And, implicit in her message is an invitation: you might want to consider getting on board.

New Alien Nation

“100 years from now only little girls will ride horses, men will walk on the moon, and Henry Weinhard’s will be sold as far away as Denver!”

And 100 years from now there will be more Chinese in Canada than there are now people, everyone will vote Green and the ordinary person will live their entire lives in one building.

Henry Weinhard did their classic beer ad with the benefit of hindsight but the point was still valid: major shifts happen and they are, to some extent, predictable.  You just have to look.

China simply can’t continue to grow they way they have without having a spill-over or high-pressure release mechanism and BC has already proven to be willing and able to accommodate.  That trend will only continue.  It is no coincidence that Vancouver is the second most expensive city in the world to live (by house prices) after Hong Kong!  We are, in many ways, the same market. One thing is indisputable: the Vancouver market is Chinese driven.

Everyone who continues to vote (and that number will continue to drop because voting does not result in sufficient change) will be voting a GREEN political message even if that message is eventually co-opted by the main parties (as it is now being and like all popular messages have been).  The Liberals and the Conservatives will be green. Climate change and pollution are becoming the biggest threat to human existence and most people know that. Given enough time, even the dumb-as-merde Conservatives will get the point.

And putting living residences downtown where people work only makes more and more sense if you are going to be stuck in the matrix anyway.  You can already be born, raised, entertained, housed, work and socialize in some large complexes in Hong Kong, New York and Chicago.  And, I assume, some other large cities.  It is only zoning laws that restrict the modern vertical village impatiently waiting to happen.  The buildings will get bigger, car-sharing will grow and that life-in-a-box, all-in-one convenience-plex will multiply. Plug and play.

Already in Vancouver, one can live their entire existence in the square mile that is False Creek and Yaletown.

No, I am not going to try to predict more for 100 years from now.  That is not the point. The point is that life is somewhat predictable, trending is visible to everyone and the big forces affecting life are also somewhat predictable. Ergo, the future is somewhat predictable. If you can’t see far into the future nor very accurately, you can certainly see a few years ahead and you will likely be pretty close in your vision.

So, what do we see in the near future?  It appears that more, not less, conflict is coming. Many experts believe climate change will precipitate mass migration and already mass movements of people have proven disruptive.  There will be more underemployment – which is the new unemployment.  More obesity.  More mental illness.  More homelessness. The middle class will disappear.

More and more state/police/legal controls will be put in place – as they have been increasingly since the first world war and as they seem to be accelerating more and more lately. And those controls will create the friction and the very disturbances they are there to prevent.  Police states create criminal responses.

John F. Kennedy famously said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

But – and here’s the real news – many people will simply opt out of all that.  Many people will go off the grid, off the radar and off the social media.  They will not vote.  They will not work in the ‘system’ and they will become a real ‘underclass’, a relatively feral, passively revolutionary contingent that cooperates amongst themselves and like-minded groups away from the high-density ‘hives’.

The revolution so long predicted will be passive.  Non-violent.  It will be quiet.  And it will be by way of a subversive black market, disconnect, invisible rejection of the hive.  It will be almost an evolutionary departure.

And 100 years from now, the new alien will be them.

Shopping for hogs next…..

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the publishing industry and this statement can be made by me even after having just published.  I don’t get it.

Well, Sal may get it, but I don’t.  It’s a mystery to me, it really is.  Financially, it makes no sense. None.  The printer takes the first ten dollars and the shipper (Canada Post) takes the next twelve.  The tax man takes 12% on top of that.  You are at almost $25.00 and counting. Put your book in a bookstore and they add 40% or almost another $10.00.  The book – with nothing yet shared with the author or the editor is now $35.00.  That is the way it is unless you go the AMAZON route and then printing and shipping are all included at $10.00.  A 12.99 cent book (ours) yields $3.00 a copy.

I can’t park my car for an hour in downtown Vancouver for $3.00.

So, you don’t write for the money.

You don’t write for the fame, either.  There may be some, someday, if you are really, really good but, if you are mediocre, fame proves more than elusive, it exists only in absentia.   And how could it be otherwise?  If you advertise, you lose your $3.00.  If you don’t, you don’t get your pathetic dollop of fame.  Hard choice.  The only other way is to self-promote by walking around and talking about yourself all day long.  But that is such a huge chore and fraught with logistics and, of course, costs, not to mention embarrassment, alienation and being shunned.  Doing book and pony shows at local libraries is a relatively easy way to make $30.00 if you are willing to spend $40.00 to do so.

So, fame and money are not valid reasons for doing this.  That just leaves invalid reasons and, being me, I have a few.  I wanted to share my rants with the world, vent my spleen, crack some whacked out jokes and outrage the targets of my literary barbs.  But Sal took all those out. Said something about being nice or saying nothing at all.  Another concept I have yet to grasp. So the book is ‘nicer’ than the author by a large margin.  And I am not so sure any of my benign, nice or even eccentric views on things actually made the cut.

Ravens, yes. Politics, not so much.

It does help to address the basic requirements of competency, however, and so that has to be the reason I offer up for this exercise.  The one I cling to.  The one I offer up as collateral for the loan I will need soon.

Competent Man: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, con a ship, design(and build) a building, write a sonnet (book), balance accounts (easy when you aspire to zero), build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects.”— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love