Category Archives: Canadiana

Everybody loves…

…BC wines. Except for Alberta. Which is about to have its local booze supply cut off. Which will be great for wine importers, unless the NDP leader has a(nother) brain fart and decides that for ‘fairness’ sake, no one in Alberta can buy any wine from anywhere. Until then, importers of wines from everywhere else on the planet should benefit from increased sales. There are good BC Grown Canadian wines, but nothing really spectacular and they’re all pretty limited in distribution.

The news is that we’re having a little inter-provincial trade ‘war’ in Canada over a pipeline which the idiotic BC Provincial Government don’t want built. Denying employment to the very people they say they work for. Between two provincial governments from the same party. Which should tell you something about the Canadian NDP.

Of course Ottawa should have stepped in and cracked heads for this blatantly stupid inter party spat, but they’re the opposition Liberals, who are ‘led’ by the excruciatingly cringe-worthy international joke Justin Trudeau. So they will do absolutely bugger all because, well, ‘it’s 2018’ Duh. Unless of course the alphabet soup, religion of being blown to pieces or Uber-Feminist demographic somehow get involved. As far as the Liberals are concerned, no-one else matters. So they’ll watch the NDP Governments in Alberta and British Columbia go for each other’s throats and hope to profit politically by their misfortune. That and they might have given Federal permission for the pipeline, but they don’t really want it built to appease the rabid environmentalist organisations. Who get funding from the same vested interests as Trudeau did when he got a two million buck boost prior to his election run. Not that they need it. The brainwashing has been very effective out here on the wet coast.

Which is interesting, as is the leak that arch meddler and speculator George Soros is funding an anti-BREXIT campaign to the tune of GBP400,000. Which is pretty small beer for him. That’s chump change from a Billionaires perspective. Is this a very public display of reverse psychology or an “I want the Democracy I pay for” gesture? Or is it a double barrelled move? I have yet to make my mind up.

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Officialdom, an object lesson

Well, as with any return to home base, there’s always good and bad news. The snail mail contained a number of not quite unforeseen bills and the usual round of things which had to be paid right now. A couple of difficult to reach taps had stuck. The phone wouldn’t work until I’d spent half an hour with tech support on the line while stripping out the modem for several hard reboots. And sadly my Tomato plants have died. That’s right, all of them. The watering device worked, but the recent BC cold snap took it’s toll and there is nothing to be done but recycle as compost. Such is life.

Still recovering from jet lag, but one item of personal news had me pumping my right hand and saying “YES!” in a loud triumphant tone. Let me enlarge. Just before we were due to leave for the fabled land of Oz I had a run in with a minor branch of Canada’s bureaucracy. What they were demanding would almost certainly have demolished our travel plans and they were quite willing, one would say even eager, to wave the full force of authority in our face with threats of fines and even imprisonment. Over a relatively minor matter, but that’s bureaucracy for you. Even though I thought we had done nothing wrong and was gearing up to fight these faceless fuckers to their last breath. However, Mrs S tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of advice which I have so often given to others. “Don’t get mad – get devious.”

Now after my last run in with British bureaucrats two years ago I knew there was no point in taking their Canadian counterparts head on. Public sector employees love those who resist emotionally because they have the law, well at least their interpretation of it, on their side. So they think they can just tick a few boxes and hey presto, you’re up before the Judge, fuming with outrage and struggling to put together a defence while watching lawyers fees chew merrily through your hard won resources.

Now for those of you who think that butting heads with officialdom Ranty-style is the right thing to do, take a tip from your Uncle Bill. Don’t. Don’t ever play the bureaucrats game because they make up and interpret the rules as they go along. Seriously. I’ve worked alongside these people and this is how they think. They’re right, you’re wrong, so pucker up buttercup. You will lose because they have a full house of two’s and fours against your piddling pair of threes, and they know the house rules better than you do. So don’t play their game.

What you need in these troubled times is a big friend who can ring the bureaucrats boss and say; “Your people are out of control, stop it.” For UK local government there are ombudsmen and all sorts of referees who will listen if you can take a deep breath and a slow step back before playing the victim trump card oh so carefully. Over here we have our local politicians. Federal Members of Parliament and Provincial Members of the Legislative Assemblies. These are the people who make the rules. And guess what? They work for you. Find one hungry enough for your vote, make your case without getting too histrionic and and there is a strong probability that they can get the mindless machine of bureaucracy to back off. Because that’s what a bureaucracy is, a barely-accountable brainless behemoth that follows set rules, no matter how square-headed and insane those rules might seem. All you have to do is find someone higher up the food chain to push the right button. The idea being to make your oppressors dinky little jackboots do a smart about face and quick march in the opposite direction. Away from you.

In short; when in doubt, escalate. Field your problem upstairs. Don’t shout, don’t threaten, don’t, whatever you do, simply get angry with the forces of dead-headed conformity. Because when you’re angry you’re not thinking straight exactly when when you most need to have your mind right and firing on all cylinders. And if you start shouting, any message will immediately get lost in all the emotion. The best you’ll get in that case is being put on hold as the person who really doesn’t need your shit buggers off for a coffee. If you get mad, they will win because all they have to do is nothing while you rail on at a dead line or some poor zero hours contract call centre drone on little better than minimum wage. Oh, and it goes without saying that you should record everything and refer back to any minor concession on their part in painstaking detail. Better still, speak softly, and let someone else wield the big stick on your behalf.

Furthermore. Don’t bother with junior management or departmental heads because they are the very people who would cheerfully sign the Dalai Llama’s death warrant if it meant they could finish early on Friday. So immediately go over their heads to someone with a little real power and make a carefully worded complaint, detailing how you think these public sector pen pushers are out of order. Which is what we did. And bless me Vicar, this time it worked. Hence my minor celebration. A letter has even arrived apologising for the ‘misunderstanding’. Although they can’t guarantee it won’t happen again. So, only a partial success. Just a reprieve.

Not that I believe the oily platitudes, but like someone who has been stung by nettles, or a bully who has just been kneed in the unmentionables, they will leave us alone for now. They may be back, but in the meantime I’m changing my phone number and migrating to a new email address. Which will do. The trick with bureaucrats, like with petty criminals, is to make their life just difficult enough so that is not worth the effort to bother you, but not so tricky as to make your life awkward. Or for now, which in our case will be long enough before we slip away into the mists and out of their reach. Which may just take the Sticker family even further than it has gone to date.

Which is another happy thought.

Restrictive practices

The longer I’m a global citizen, travelling the globe and finding what differences there are between countries, the more amazed I become. Today’s object lesson came from those jape-a-minute practical jokers, the main Canadian cell (Mobile, whatever) phone companies. Let me enlighten my one remaining reader. I have a GSM phone. One that works in just about every country on Earth. Tri-band, three frequencies, great range. Yet GSM phones are only supported by one Canadian company, Rogers. Bell, Telus, and all the sub variants of these companies, including Virgin Koodoo and Fido don’t support GSM-only phones. They have gone straight to LTE, 3G and 4G networks. So if you need a SIM card for a retro GSM phone, don’t waste your time with at least three of the ‘big four’.

There’s also the bit of news that GSM phones are being phased out in Australia. Vodaphone is the last supplier of GSM pre-paid SIM cards down under and will be shutting down their last GSM network in March 2018. So there’s just enough of a window for me to have a working phone while I’m there. In the new year I’ll be in the market for a new phone because otherwise I’ll have no means of emergency contact. Not that I’m that bothered, but Mrs S does fret when she can’t get hold of me in ten seconds flat. Besides, I like to talk to people rather than text at them.

One of the issues up here in the not so frozen north is that Canada is so mired in protectionism it acts as a direct hit on the bank accounts of the general populace. Calling long distance is a credit killer, and you would be amazed how short a distance that can be. Every cell phone ‘plan’ I’ve come across is designed to get at least CAD$50 out of a users pocket every month as a bargain basement figure. Then there are all the other little charges that hungrily suckle on your financial teat that were abandoned in Europe back in the early 00’s. I’m loathe to say ‘rip off’ but it’s funny how the layers of costs mount up.

As for those who trot out “Well, Canada is a big country…” to justify the cell phone companies glaring omissions and excesses; that’s a very poor excuse. My considered opinion is that Canadian monopolies and their subsidiaries just can’t be bothered to cater to the market sector that neither wants nor needs to upgrade their cell phone every three years. Indeed, they could be missing out because at present there is a very strong ‘retro’ movement. Even if the planned shut down of 2G networks goes ahead. A lot of people only want their phones to make calls and texts. To them, Data is just a character from Star Trek- the next generation played by Brent Spiner in heavy makeup. Besides, who wants to ruin their eyes staring at tiny screens all the time? Do your eyeballs ache a lot? That could be a clue you spend waaay too much time checking the mindless garbage on Twatter.

By way of a personal observation, two of the people served before me at the four cell phone stores I visited today bought old style flip phones. That’s two out of seven people in total without me going after a GSM compatible prepaid SIM card. With my input that’s just over a third of the total customer base in a random Sunday sample. Now there’s a message in there for those who would but see.

This sort of thing is true for many other services and goods this side of the border. Especially when every attempt to import has certain folk raising their arms in horror and shouting about ‘protecting Canadian Jobs’, which probably don’t really exist because Canada has huge manpower overheads and a relatively high minimum wage, which means many goods are simply too expensive to manufacture this side of the 49th parallel. Then the Government gets lobbied into leaving economic power with a few large companies who have had what some might call a stranglehold on the Canadian economy since the early days of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Take for example cheese. A recently successful motion to allow specialist French imports raised a loud outcry because, claimed the protectionists, it would ‘cost Canadian jobs’. Even when Canadian dairy manufacturers can only just managed a very average Brie or Camembert. Although they can manage a halfway decent Aged Cheddar, but not much more. But don’t ask about the near tasteless ersatz yellow rubber substance called ‘Monterey Jack’.

Now when it comes to cheese, the French rather bake the quiche, with the Italians and Germans coming in a close second and third and the British finishing a very creditable 4th, having clawed their back way up from the bottom of the cheese producing pile where they had languished for far too long. Well, that’s my estimation, having spent quite some time around British, French and German street markets and the local fare on offer. Same for beer. It’s only since the mid 00’s that we’ve seen a proper resurgence of what are called ‘craft’ beers over here.

Talking about markets, that’s another thing Canadians don’t really understand. Street markets, which are found throughout the rest of the civilised world, are almost unknown up here. The last time I went into a Vancouver Christmas street market, it wasn’t really a market at all as I understand them. It was a theme park designers idea of a street market. It was fenced off, you had to pay fifteen bucks each to get in to get in and it was full of tourist trap garbage. Nothing like the open access, noise, bustle and sheer doggoned fun of a proper street market. Far too twee. Far too restrictive, and there lies the crux of the matter. Something will have to give.

Anyway. I now have what I need, my tomato plants are beginning to develop fruit and the deadline for stepping onto that plane for a sunshine filled festive season in the fabled land of Oz draws ever closer. Yeah.

A little rogue English

Sometimes things just pop out. Especially if you haven’t done your zip up properly, but that’s another matter. Yesterday’s little turn of phrase turned up when I was out in the car, signaling left for the next set of lights when some dimwit in a grey Dodge Caravan carved across my path at speed then back into the lane to my right. I think there was less than six inches between us for a brief heart in mouth experience moment. Mrs S, in the passenger seat braced for an impact I was able to avoid by some pretty lively braking (Good reflexes there Bill) and shrieked loudly, it was that close. To the lack of road etiquette I responded loudly “What the fuck are you on, blue eyes?” and indicated my displeasure to the offending driver, if you could call what she was doing driving, with a single upraised digit. Not that the zombiform item supposedly in control of the offending vehicle paid any attention, she seemed to think that smiling and waving made it all better. Goddamn stoner chick posing as a soccer mum.

Had I possessed a little more presence of mind I’d have logged her registration number and reported her as a possible Driving under the influence. But it’s easy to say that in hindsight. When you’re trying to avoid a large insurance claim, your attention tends to be a little more tightly focussed on your driving.

From the passenger seat came sudden peals of laughter. Which rather puzzled me despite briefly enjoying a little vented road rage at the offending driver. “Oh I must remember that one!” Exclaimed my lady wife.
“One what?”
“That saying.”
“Pardon?” I pulled up at the red stop light in the left hand filter, furrowing my brow.
“What the fuck are you on, blue eyes?” She repeated.
“Oh that. Didn’t you see that crazy bitch?” I responded, still a trifle miffed at almost being run off the road into oncoming traffic.
“You do come up with them.”
“Up with what?” The filter light went green and we pulled out and turned left, watching for morons turning right into my lane instead of taking their turn like they’re supposed to.
“These rogue English sayings of yours.”
“Sorry.” I don’t swear that often. Not in real life anyway.
“No Bill. You make me laugh.”
“That bad, huh?” We turned into the car park and a parking space, watching all the time for more charm school dropouts.
“Not bad, just funny.”
“Sorry love, I just get fed up with the blind deaf and dumb sometimes. I have to vent.”
“You keep on venting like that. It keeps me amused.”
“Well I’m glad about that. Rogue English, eh? I like it.” I replied. Then I stalked off to the grocery store, still vibrating a bit from the anger, while she went to the pharmacy.

She was still grinning about it when I came back from my own errands.

Oh well. Whatever makes you happy…

Ello, ello, ello

What’s all this then? Heading back from a meeting with our accountants this afternoon we noticed that our local RCMP detachment were pulling over all the motorcyclists, presumably to give them a free lecture over how dangerous these consarned two wheeled contraptions are, and presumably a check of dodgy registrations or out of date insurance. No, they weren’t looking for specific machines, they were stopping every type of motorcycle, from cruiser to sports tourer and off road machines. Couldn’t find any announcements about it in the local press or on the RCMP website.

There’s been a lot of this recently. Locally we’ve seen motorcycles parked at the side of the road just off the hard shoulder over the last week. We watched an Asian lad get pulled two days ago on the Sooke road. Not speeding, not driving dangerously, but he still got stopped by the Police.

I remember back in the day mates of mine often used to get stopped a lot for a ‘tyre-kicking’ session by the local law looking for possible drunk driving, stolen machines, out of date tax discs, no MOT, no licence, faulty lights etc. Usual schtick. But none of us greasy looking good-for-nothings would ever be as half witted as to take photographs of ourselves actually breaking the law like some idiots do on YouTube. Honestly officer.

What are the local law up to?

On the other hand I’ve seen a lot of ‘European’ style riding, cutting in and out of traffic, filtering and white line dancing by some guys, so maybe the local RCMP are having a little crackdown. I won’t be riding until next week, so maybe the cops will have tired of pulling over bikers by then. We’ll see.

Update: My bike deal just fell through, so no riding this year and no likelihood of being pulled by the local law. Swings meet roundabouts. Bugger.

BC Culture

The longer I live here, the more I get a handle on what BC is missing. What would make it a far better place to live for hundreds of thousands. This morning I had one of those “By George I’ve got it!” moments while ironically researching the Melbourne region of Australia. We’ll be passing by in December 2017 & January 2018, so if anyone is passing by this blog who has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Similarly Cairns, Queensland, where we will be passing Christmas with the down under branch of our clan. Sydney is where Eldest has set up home, so we’ll be going there, too. This time the money is in place, as are the financial facilities, so no cancellations like the planned European Motorcycle trip, something that still rankles with me, but there you go.

Anyway, regarding my little epiphany. Why is Victoria BC such a cultural backwater? In short, Political Correctness, the crass Socialist doctrine that says you can’t say anything that the PC promoters think (?) anyone, anywhere else in the world might find ‘offensive’. This is endemic over here and actively erodes creativity. Having been to a few Victorian stand up shows I find the local brand of ‘approved’ humour absolutely cringeworthy. Indeed, I’ve given up on visiting local comedy clubs because of all the deference to this milksop-making malevolence that populates the front stalls with the incredibly smug and humourless calling out. “Ooh, that’s offensive!” Well actually yes it needs to be. Humour that doesn’t offend, or at least make a spirited attempt to do so, is often so unfunny one needs 500mg of Largactil as a stimulant before each set. I saw this last year when comedian and writer Dylan Moran came to play a tour. Don’t know what he’d done to deserve it, but to the mans credit he did put up a spirited defence against one of the local earnestly dull.

This is where Victoria is. If you don’t ascribe to a particular worldview, you won’t get very far. This is from a community that preaches and practices a very restricted view of ‘tolerance’ you understand. Yes, they paint rainbows on crosswalks and sprinkle pixie dust, but any other opinion outside their own narrow view is actively frowned upon. Indeed, by the time I finish writing this post it may actually illegal to disagree or even blink in the wrong manner when one of the earnestly dull locals is holding forth about how nice the First Nations are and how privileged we are to live cheek by jowl with them. Which is why they must be praised to the skies at every public event, regardless of whether or not any of them are in attendance.

Which ultimately means that the nightlife it a bit, well, moribund. Vapid. Insipid. Duller than dishwater that’s lost all its suds. I’d link to the local stats about death from terminal boredom, but the person tasked with compiling them fell into a coma and hasn’t been heard from since. No wonder there’s been an epidemic of Fentanyl overdoses locally. Indeed, there is even a ‘Death Cafe‘ for those who want to talk about ending it all.

Now don’t get me wrong; Victoria is a nice place to live. At least where we are in the outer suburbs. You just have to go travelling a lot, or face the ennui or le Cafard of living here.

Which is why there are so few modern Canadians who stand out. Because no-one is allowed to. Indeed, most of our real talent has to be exported before it does any real good for itself.

Update: Just picked up the news from The Blocked Dwarf and Grandad over at Head Rambles that the doyenne of the Scriblerus group, Anna Raccoon, the erudite Suzanne Cameron-Blackie is no longer with us. The Grim Reaper finally claimed her last night having won by three falls and two submissions.

Best regards and condolences to Mr G and all those who were closest to her. They broke the mould when she came to pass. Celebrate her memory and cherish all that which she contributed.

Oh the humanity

In Winnipeg this morning touring the ‘Canadian Museum of Human Rights‘ where I feel they were missing an exhibit. A small headstone inscribed thus; “Free speech in Canada. Killed by M103 and Bill C16 May 2017. Let ’em Bleed.” The last phrase in that epitaph being borrowed from our current PM’s daddy talking about the heavy crackdown on Quebec separatists back in 1970. Which reminds me somewhat of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. It should be noted that junior is not a patch on daddykins. Although he’s quite capable of getting us into a similar mess.

I was quite intrigued to see the mass murderer Che Guevara lauded in said museum. Someone missed the memo there. Old Che was a nasty piece of work, more in the category of oppressor than oppressed. More Pol Pot than Mohandes K Ghandi. He may be a favourite on your student unions wall, but read up on what he and Castro really did to Cuba. Guevara ended up shot in Bolivia, which couldn’t have happened to a more deserving case. Castro garnered a fortune from the suffering of the Cubans under communism. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

Yes, they included the Holodomor, the name given to the deliberate starvation of 7-12 million Ukrainians 1932-3 by Stalin, but the Holocaust or Shoah 1938-45 which is credited with around 6 million deaths gets way more shelf space. Maybe the Nazis had better press agents than the Communists. I don’t know. The slaughter of Poles in events like Katyn and various other bits of extreme WWII nastiness were omitted, maybe through lack of space. And if the museum had a section on the Rape of Nanking I must have missed it. Yet it’s not as though the museum is short of space. Space is what occupies it.

Overall the museum itself is an architectural masterpiece more inside than out. Beautiful open spaces lauding those historical figures who demonstrate the best part of humanity with the aforementioned exception scumbag Guevara. The garden of contemplation could have done with a few more Japanese elements in my opinion but generally served as a quiet place to stop and think about the general thrust of the exhibits. Mostly about the lack of books in the gift shop. Now for a museum of human rights I’d have stocked it with the works of every related volume on the law code of Hammurabi through Socrates, Aristotle and Cicero to Tom Paine and Bertrand Russell. Did we see anything but lip service to these noted thinkers? No. Just toys and the usual gift shop tat. So in that sense it left me a little underwhelmed and only served to cement some of my own thinking about the absolute need for freedom of expression as enshrined in article 18 of the fundamental declaration of human rights and in particular article 11 about the right to a fair trial, which is something lacking when it comes to the CHRC. Human rights, huh? Whose? For a country that purports to believe wholeheartedly in the rights of the individual, such a court of the star chamber should be a mark of shame.

After visiting the very top of the central tower for a quick dose of vertigo but splendid views of the city, we dodged out as the freak show (Pride week) next door got properly underway. The one thing that struck me was the majority of the attendees appeared young(ish) and predominantly female(ish). There were a few children there too. A few corporate sponsors cashing in on the Pink Dollar, well the more well-heeled attendees tend to have a high disposable income so why not?

Lots of bright colours and balloons like an attempt at a kind of poor persons Mardi Gras. Very festive. Although not the kind of thing I’ve ever been interested in. Doesn’t matter what I think about it anyway. They’ll all have died out in fifty years or so. Maybe these proclivities are natures way of editing the gene pool? Lots of unconsummated sexual activity means that those who don’t breed die out. Anyway, that’s all rather academic unless some form of politically mandated cloning comes about.

However, the one thing that really struck me about Winnipeg was the state of the roads within the city. Winnipeg is a beautiful city with much to commend it architecturally, fabulous green spaces, lots of trees, a superb foot bridge just across the way but when you get up close and personal it’s crumbling kerbs and poorly maintained city streets which tell the real story of low infrastructure investment of a city in real decline. Once we got back out onto Highway 1, we could see Federal money being spent on resurfacing the main highway, but inside the huge square ring road, the rot was obvious, like a tooth dying from the inside out.

Which is a shame.

Aand we’re off!

Interweb connections have been far and few between over the past few days. At present I’m writing this off line for a quick post and paste when connections allow. Mrs S and I are having a forty eight hour chill out on the edge of Mount Robson National park with an excellent view of Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rocky mountains which looks like a peak shaped layer cake below brilliant blue skies.

Well it’s been an interesting trip so far as we hurtle through the sunny back country of BC toward the other side of Canada. Six black bear sightings, the first sitting ten metres back from the road on highway 24, head moving back and forth as if counting the traffic. Maybe he was doing his Green Cross Code, or perhaps was even a member of that secret cabal the Tufty club, doing his best Policeman Badger impersonation, who knows? Another camera shy counterpart was sighted ambling up a hillside on Highway 5 as a couple driving a rented camper van focused their long lenses upon him. Then there’s the rocks, the trees, some more rocks and OMG! Is that a Douglas Fir? Surely not. Maybe a Birch, Maple or dare I say it, Spruce. Four other fine looking Ursines were spotted doing their own personal photoshoots while we were passing through Jasper National Park.

May is truly the finest month to visit the Rockies. In the latter half of the month the lowland snow is mostly gone and most of the parks are open. There’s new growth everywhere, the alpine meadows look gorgeous and the mountains are decked out in the purest white. Can I say that or is it “Racist”? Don’t know, care even less. I don’t think the scenery cares what a lot of student activists say either.

In some ways I’m a little spectaculared out already. You can only take so much awesome in a day before you need a serious lie down and a nice cup of tea. At the moment I’m sitting twenty metres from one of the prettiest mountain streams I’ve ever encountered. It looks like someone learned how to make glass run like water. Oh and there’s Elk and a mother bear with two cubs in the neighbourhood so our very nice hosts tell us. As well as a forest fire being doused by helicopters working in shifts (And very pretty they look, too).

Yes, and I learned a fascinating new word in Chinese (Cantonese) this week; “Baizuo” to describe that pestilential plague of whiny SJW’s who are always banging on about how unfair everything is (Yes. And….) and how it would all be sooo much better if the rest of us gave our worldly wealth unto the ever rapacious big state. Then confess our ‘white guilt’ before handing over everything the Western world has ever built over to those who didn’t help build it. Then shut up and don our chains like good little zombies to be lorded over by the ‘white left’. Just because we other mere mortals are all so racist, sexist, islamophobic or whatever. Even if we’re not. By the way, “Baizuo” is not a compliment. Quite the opposite. Yes, and if someone calls you “Sheng-mu” they’re not being very kind, either. But if the cap fits, wear it.

Posting will be somewhat erratic (As if anyone cared – heartfelt sob) as I’m breaking in a new laptop ‘pooter. So excuse prease and watch this space. In the meantime we’re off traversing the ice fields tomorrow. Cheery-bye.

A change for the worse

No, nothing personal, just an unsettling experience in one of my favourite downtown eateries. One of the better Italian places to have lunch. Lavazza coffee, a nice snacky lunch special. Just right for when you’re not up to a full on feed. Well that’s what I thought.

We haven’t been going downtown so much recently, but the other day the opportunity presented itself so we pounced on it. I immediately went for the fresh made tomato bisque and a sandwich. Oh. The sandwich was fine, but the soup was disappointingly vapid, nothing like the superb little number we’d dined on before. So when the waiter came round with their customary “How are the first few bites” routine, instead of my usual thumbs up, I was moved to look up at him and say; “The sandwich is great, but the soup’s a bit disappointing.” And it was. What had on previous occasions been a warming, rich and mildly spicy dish had been turned into a distinctly underwhelming offering. A woefully damp wodge of Parmesan standing duty for the wonderful hit of well seasoned fresh Basil we’d previously come to know and love. I mentioned this salient omission and the waiter told me that ‘Head office’ had dictated the removal of half the salt and most of the Basil.

This baffled me somewhat. The Tomato Bisques previous incarnation had been superb, now it had become simply ‘Meh’, even for my jaded palate. A requested pinch of salt helped, but somehow it just wasn’t the same. What did ‘Head office’ think they were playing at? They’d converted the almost sublime into, well, not quite dross, but certainly a pale shadow of its former glory. A Manager type person approached and apologised for the condition of the soup. I politely told him how I perceived the change, and how I felt the recipe had been diminished. He suggested that I request extra fresh Basil and extra salt as a ‘side’ in future. “Hmm.” I found myself thinking. “If your standards are falling maybe there won’t be another time.”

Which is a shame because this little place had previously been one of my favourite downtown lunch spots. Now an infection by the doctrinaire had diminished what I had long considered their signature dish. Perhaps some dozy item at ‘Head office’ had decided that we schlubs, mere customers, needed our diet regulated by their diktat. Or some city bureaucrat who can’t cook to save their lives had demanded that all the downtown restaurants cut the salt content of their culinary offerings. I don’t know. All I do know is that it’s made me feel less than enthusiastic about returning. Other diners who share my like of the previous recipe may well feel the same. All I know is that eventually yet another downtown eatery will end up closed as diners follow their palates.

Which is a crying shame. There are already far too many empty storefronts in downtown Victoria.

But what about the Jedi’s?

Just had a very pleasant weekend in Vancouver sampling two types of Chinese cuisine we’d previously not made time for. Firstly Dim Sum. Which is good. Although I found Chinese Toon buns a little bland. Secondly Chongqing hot pot, also known in Japan as Sabu-Sabu. Approach with caution. This stuff will blow your mind and taste buds into the stratosphere. If you think a full strength Vindaloo is hot, you will find out why the Chinese do not really need a nuclear deterrent after sampling this style of cuisine. Put simply, this chilli laden content detonates in the mouth and scorches its way into the stomach for an explosion of warmth which is welcome on a chilly wet Vancouver Winter evening. Upon ordering a ‘medium’ strength meal, we were entreated not to go for the spicy option by the head waiter, and found even the ‘mild’ version a tingling mouth-fest of gustatory amusement. If you like spicy food, you will absolutely love Chongqing hot pot. Recommendation; JDB (Wong Lo Kat) herbal tea reduces mouth burn.

Meanwhile, back on the topic; the M-103 motion. Sargon of Akkad puts his thoughts on this matter forward in the video below.

With the passing of M-103, I’d like to clear something up. Firstly M-103 is not law, nor does it form the basis of law, yet. However, in the meantime it may well be implemented as policy by the ironically titled Canadian Human Rights Commission. Who are known to prosecute those whose voiced opinion does not fit an assumed ideal, regardless of supporting legislation. Their motto appears to be “If you’re Jewish or ‘white’ and Anglo-Saxon – you’re guilty.” Which I find more than a little prejudiced. Racist, even. As one who is happy to break bread with any skin colour, I must say I actually feel threatened and made uncomfortable by this bias against people of my dermal colouration.

Notwithstanding, if this motion does go on to form the basis of a more generalised blasphemy law, every single minority in Canada, especially the First Nations, will be threatened. Why should Islam be singled out for preferential treatment? Why should the more pantheistic beliefs of the North American natives (First Nations) be excluded? Or Daoists, Taoists, Shintoists, Buddhists and followers of Confucius? Never mind all the forms of Christianity and Paganism. And what about the Jedi? Will they have to give up wearing hoods and openly carrying their lightsabres? Or the Sikhs be forced to give up their turbans because Islam becomes the preferred religion of the corporate state?

Islam by contrast seems to be a religion of dislikes, which is defined by the things it considers Haram or ‘unclean’. Indeed, its proscriptions against Alcohol, Dogs, and Women are well known. Alcohol being forbidden, dogs considered dirty (Well they are, but dogs are also fun, loyal and trustworthy) and women reduced to becoming second class citizens, being forbidden to drive, go out on their own without a male escort and exhorted to cover their head and faces.

Islam also makes provision for treating the women of other cultures as inferior, considering gang rape and sexual molestation legitimate tools for subduing non-Islamic females. This of course includes ‘feminists’. Even the radicals who feel that by appeasing Islam they will be ‘safe’. Yes. This is not going to end well for you guys. Bend over buttercup. This is, whether you like it or not, the will of Allah.

I’d also like to make the point that if Islam gets a free pass, there will be no ‘safe spaces’ left for anyone. Indeed, radical (and not so radical) Islamists think violence against ‘unbelievers’ not only necessary but a religious duty. Well what about gays? Islamic Sharia law encourages throwing homosexuals and similar off tall buildings, hanging them slowly in public using cranes, cutting off their heads, stoning and burning to death.

My point here is that no religion, especially one with so many prescriptions of violence against non-believers and ‘alternative’ lifestyles, should be handed such a tempting platter as a blasphemy law. As has been demonstrated worldwide, they’d only abuse the privilege. Along with the human rights of everyone else. Even the Jedi.