Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Thoughtfully Voice Concern Over the BC Olympic Games

The Olympics are coming to Vancouver in a few months. Perhaps you have not heard? Perhaps you have also not heard of the widespread anti-Olympic reaction in British Columbia. There are a number of reasons why people are upset about the Olympics.

For one, taxes are going up throughout BC so that the Olympics can be paid for. However, with this tax hike only the lower mainland, where the Olympics are to be held will receive any form of economic benefit.

Second is that there are financial cuts to hospitals and the arts (in general) that are because of the costs associated with the Olympics. The arts have always been underfunded, and northern communities in the province have had notorious problems with their funding.

Third is that many of the contractors and other trades people are drawn to the lower mainland to work on Olympic projects. This is a drain of not only people but also resources in more general from other locations throughout the province. This results in a slow down of construction in areas outside of the lower mainland.

Fourth, there was very little consultation in the entire province on if they should host the Olympics and how it should be handled.

Fifth, some aboriginal groups are receiving disproportionate recognition before and during the games than other groups in the province.

What this boils down to is that there is a strong belief that the Olympics is positively affecting only the lower mainland, but the rest of the province is experiencing only negative affects. There are other problems as well, but these are but a few.

I sincerely doubt that BC is special in regards to how the populace regards the upcoming Olympics. Likely there have been many other instances of this happening. However some realism is required here. BC is a very large province and there is absolutely no way that the Olympics could be hosted throughout the province, nor represent the entire province and every special interest group that resides in the province.

Second, the Olympics must be paid for by someone. The federal government said early on that they would not commit too much money to the games. This left the burden to the province, and the lower mainland by itself could not afford such a cost. The fact that money is being taken away from the healthcare and arts should be no surprise. This occurs every time a politician or political party begins to suggest they need more money.

Third, as far as aboriginal groups are considered, they do deserve representation at the games. However, this recognition should be no larger nor smaller than any other group. Canada is a cultural mosaic and should be represented as such. In addition, no aboriginal group should have received special compensation, especially in light of certain groups that were given money so that they would take part in the game's ceremonies and for them to allow the games to 'transgress' across their territory. This has set a bad precedent.

Fourth, not every group can be consulted. Not every group can be equally appeased as well. There will always be at least one group in society that feels that they have been shunned and under-represented. However, the issue of having or not having the Olympics should have been more vocally and forcefully negotiated a long time ago. It is too late for the Olympics to just be canceled. This is also not just a matter of provincial pride, but also national pride. The entire world will be watching Canada and not just Vancouver. This is an excellent time for the country and the province of BC to show other countries that we exist and that we are vibrant, and not just some icy wilderness with everyone knowing everyone because the population is under 100. I strongly feel that many of the people who oppose(d) the Olympics did not voice their opinions soon enough, or if at all for that matter. It was not until this year that people began to become vocal and are now planning demonstrations at the Olympics. What will this accomplish I ask? Protesting at the Olympics will bring attention to the issues you feel are important. However this attention will not be had by the politicians outside of anger. News agencies will also give you attention, but this will be worldwide and the point you are making will likely not be transmitted clearly. Furthermore, protesting the Olympics at the Olympics will not stop the Olympics. It will not even pause them or make any politician rethink their stance on whatever it is you are trying to say (for instance homeless rights, saving the arts, or what have you). Instead the message will fall flat and the world will look upon Canada as a place that has some serious, deeply rooted problems.

Instead I suggest to those who are against the Olympics to reconsider why they are against it. Be realistic in what you are opposing and what you feel is fair. If you still feel that the Olympics were a mistake and are upset about issues like rising taxes and underfunding hospitals and the arts, then take issue with it after the Olympics. There is absolutely no point except for personal embarrassment to protesting the Olympics on TV during the games while the world is literally watching. This is what I would propose instead. Enjoy the Olympics if you can while it is occurring. Watch it on TV or if you live in the lower mainland, go visit any of the free events. Or, do not associate yourself with the Olympics whatsoever. Ignore it like a bad Christmas present and wait for it to go away and be regifted to someone else. Following the Olympics is a different manner. If you disagree with the Olympics, then do not purchase any lotto ticket that supports BC sports. This money goes to the Olympics. Second, protest freely, loudly, and forcefully FOLLOWING the Olympics. Make your voice heard that you are not happy with how the debt is to be treated and that you want some issues attended to. Third, do not vote for the same party. Vote for anyone but them. Fourth, run for office yourself. It is always the best solution to dealing with political matters that you disagree with. Fifth, if you live in a community outside of the lower mainland, then do not support that region in anyway, shape or form. Do not visit there. Do not buy the products of that region. Do anything but recognize that it exists on a map.

However, if you have stuck with this thread thus far, then here is a sixth possibility. Instead of silently griping about the Olympics, go to the lower mainland during the games. Meet with community leaders (city hall officials) and suggest a deal to represent your community at the games. If you cannot bring the games and its benefits to you, then bring yourself to them! I have not heard of any of the northern communities doing this. Set up booths that represent the tourism and industries of your community. Aboriginal leaders should also attend and promote their lands in the form of ecotourism, selling of traditional art, and other aspects of their culture and community that should be heard about. If your city has a local newspaper, such as the Prince George Herald, make sure that free copies of your newspaper are available to tourists at the games. This is a great and cheap way to advertise your community and newspaper.

There are many other ways you can make your voice heard, but please chose wisely. Not every path will be as profitable as the next, and some may leave a sour taste in the mouth of the person you are trying to sway. Think about what it is you are opposing and then consider rational and realistic methods of voicing your ideas, concerns, and oppositions.

Enjoy the games.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rubber Band Gun

Just far too cool! The only downside is that I am also far too lazy to reload that damn thing, which is why I need minions to do my bidding and have multiple rubber band guns preloaded for me!

Ahhh, but you must appreciate the Japanese culture! Perhaps this will set them free of the recession? A rubber band gun arms race with North Korea perhaps?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two more movies to be excited about!

Two trailers that look very good. The first is a documentary of small town America. This appears to be a great example of the potential behind a documentary, or film in general. This also appears to be a great example of why stereotypes of America are incredibly flawed.

The second is the new Cohen brothers movie. Perhaps their best thus far? Not a big fan of Burn After Reading, but everything else has been a Monet. This one reminds me of a Hopper.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Black Tusk Ale

Black Tusk Ale is a recent favorite of mine that I discovered over the Christmas holidays. Upon restocking my fridge I became saddened when a Co-op liquor store employee informed me that this company would no longer sell its beer in Alberta. Instead, according to the employee, this beer will be sold in British Columbia only. Damn them and all of their great beers! BC needs to share more, especially their mild winters! However, of hearing this news –and as I am a man of action- I rushed off in search of Calgary’s last remaining Black Tusk beers, returning hours later virtually empty handed.

Why do I like this beer so much? First is that this is an English style beer, which are my personal favorites. I love the complex flavors that these beers tend to have, and the Black Tusk is no exception. This is also a good dark beer that is not too thick, providing it a quality that non-dark beer lovers would appreciate. Personally I am a fan of dark beers like Guinness, but unlike dark beers the Black Tusk ale is more carbonated and hence a beer that one can enjoy many of. Do not get me wrong, I love Guinness, but I do admit that it is a thick beer and does not suit every occasion. Black Tusk is that nice bridging beer between light and dark.
Black Tusk has a rich black body with a soft tan colored head, although the head is fairly weak. Black Tusk is also not too bitter, with just a hint of bitterness offset by the sweet flavor of chocolate. That is correct. This beer is flavored with a dark chocolate and the bitterness comes from the addition of espresso. I have had other beers with the combination of these two flavors added to the beer but they tend to be too bitter, astringent, and overpowered by these two flavors. Instead the espresso and chocolate accompany Black Tusk beer, which is the point missed by many other beer labels: beer comes first!

Black Tusk ale is sold in a glass bottle 6 pack with an interesting design of a large mastodon. I assume that the image is in relation to the Ice Age of the Whistler region when such beasts thrived and the glaciers were present. In Calgary the 6-pack sold for roughly $15. This puts the beer slightly on the high end of priced beer but the taste makes it worth the extra couple of dollars.

A little background: The company, Whistler Brewing Company (WBC) bottled its first beer in 1989. This company promotes itself as a craft beer specialist and as being unique for its use of the glacial waters in the local Whistler region. The company has been bought and sold a number of times in the past 20 years, notably by Big Rock in 2001, and by 2007 the company was no longer part of the Big Rock company; these corporate woes may explain the recent deletion of their beer from Alberta shelves. WBC was an independent again and re-launched their brands in 2007, as highlighted by their beer placement at the recent Beijing Olympics. The company has also recently won a number of international awards for their beers, but none of these were for their Black Tusk beer. Give it time though.

As a note of interest, on the company’s website, a question mark always follows the tag glacial water. I do not understand why this is, but in one section of the website they have the phrase Whistler Glacial Water copy written. This may be in relation to how the beer is actually brewed in Kamloops instead of Whistler, with the water –I guess- being shipped out.

Friday, January 16, 2009



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gin Tonic

Expiration dates cause fear. Irrational: likely. Why: because of our inner self-insecurities. I need to be validated by external sources, and I doubt that I am uncommon in this regard. After watching a sober and yet compelling movie I felt the need for a drink, but nothing too strong. I thirst for beer in times of socialites, or scotch if I am doing something slightly more cerebral. Occasionally wine also fills this need, but it too comes with requirements. Gin and tonic was what struck this night: something with introspection and smoothness, and a hint of sweetness. Not harsh or muddling to the head, just sweet and smooth, with a slow numbness that precipitates from the tongue to the fingertips.

Upon opening the fridge door I spot a bottle of unopened tonic water. I feel satisfied in knowing that I have the ingredients still in place after a lengthy period of being afar. However with grasping the bottle I think back to when last I purchased it. I hesitate at the etched numbers on the side of the plastic tube: 20/10/08. The perforated plastic cap is still intact. A slight fiz is apparent upon moving the bottle. Is it still good though two months have since lapsed?My wife shakes her head and says yes it is good. She feels that these dates only pertain to natural perishable goods; the likes of eggs, meats, and such. I trust her but thoughts of doubt percolate from my gut, an ominous omen of previous poor decisions of my own creation.

I pour the gin into a large tumbler. Two, three or four fingers worth? I’m not counting. The tonic follows, close to doubling the concoction’s volume. Finally the lime juice, which is also expired and should mean that the two will cancel each other out, perhaps. A stir of the finger and a final mixing in the mouth before easing into my body’s cavities.

When did we, or I, become so insecure? The dates on supposedly perishable goods is not a thing of antiquity but rather a recent invention. I have heard, though not clear where from, that this is a ploy by companies to make you buy their products more often. For if an item has a date stamped in authority then the buyer will submit to such evidence of defunctness. Correct? Or are the stamped dates there for our protection? To make our lives easier and to save room on our calendars from making small penciled notes about when a certain carton of milk will go bad? Our parents and grandparents never needed such dates, and I am quite certain they never spent much time fussing about when something was to go bad. Instead they tasted, smelled, poked, prodded, fingered, licked, eyeballed, and fed it to the neighbor’s cat to see if it survived. So how did we, the society of 2008 –soon to be 2009- come to lack these so mundane of skills and instead become insecure and all trusting in an odd and somewhat mysterious date that is stamped to all of our foods? What happened?

At least if we poor more gin into our drinks it should kill all the bacteria that had been fermenting inside our spoiled tonic.

Or at the very least make us numb to our growing insecurities.