The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Monday, December 13, 2004


End of the line

Well, following a long stretch of business, procrastination, and a bunch of other crap not worth explaining, is now up and running. Yes, it's a fancy-pants, standards-compliant, CMS-powered website just like all the cool blogging kids have, with an engine lovingly grown in the south of France. All, or at least almost all, of the stuff on this site has been migrated over to the new server, and there are actual new posts that I won't mirror here.

For those of you that have kept a bookmark or blogroll to this humble blog up, I both salute you and question your judgment; now, I'm asking you to help the switch. Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to hit the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I'm not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Life's too short to bother with that fanciness.

Thanks for reading for the last 2 1/2 years, and see you over at!

Saturday, November 13, 2004


Suzuki on anti-Americanism

Renowned fruit-fly breeder David Suzuki, also rumoured to be something of an environmentalist and favourite target of the rootin’-tootin’ pollutin’ crowd, lays down the smack on those self-hating Canadians who equate disagreement with the Bush administration with outright. His view? That of a scientist who got his Ph.D from the University of Chicago and whose work on Drosophila melanogaster (known to you and me as the fruit fly) was largely funded by an America that valued scientific research and funded the hell out of it.

In my youth I received a scholarship from an American University worth more than my father made in a year and it allowed me to attend one of the finest colleges in the world. Later I earned a PhD there and I am forever grateful to Americans for that. When I returned to Canada, I could not compete with my peers elsewhere in the world because of the poor funding available in Canada at the time. I stayed because I received a large U.S. grant. I will never forget the generosity of the U.S. and owe a huge debt of gratitude.

But it is precisely because I love America that I am so profoundly disturbed by what is going on there. Unquestioning acceptance of the status quo isn’t exactly an American ideal. In fact, it strikes me as decidedly un-American.

A similar argument that you’ll hear from Americans who don’t like the direction their country seems to be headed, but who have to deal with being called unpatriotic or worse. He’s got a point—Americans don’t like to think of themselves as deferential to authority; in fact, it’s been part of what’s fuelled the conservative culture warriors over the last four decades, this idea of rebelling against the establishment.

Something changed in the Bizarro World nineties, though. A lot of things flipped around. Leftish politicians went from being unconcerned about deficits (as the were in the sixties) to being the fiscal hawks, while those on the right were happy with deficit financing, as long as it was brought about by tax cuts. Idealism became associated with conservative foreign-policy wonks, many of whom had started out on the left.

Right-wing revolutionaries went from being on the outside to being in control, politically with Newt Gingrich and his successors, in the media world by a conservative publishing industry that had matured and bolstered by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black, and intellectually by a crop of think-tanks. And as Environics guru Michael Adams argues, Americans became more deferential to authority, while it has become the duty of all good Canadians to slag their leaders. Go figure.

But here’s the gentle geneticist’s killer blow: using one of your opponents’ favourite weapons against them.

Pundits who insist that critics of President Bush are anti-American are really saying that if 52 per cent of Americans believe anything then that’s what America stands for and everyone else has to respect that. This is a morally relativistic viewpoint that doesn’t even withstand the most basic of scrutiny and Bush administration critics should not be bullied into believing it does.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Post-elxn, down south

Paul Wells offers a bit of post-election wisdom. I’m not bothering; I’m hacking away on an assignment that I should have filed 12 hours ago. Read his stuff instead.

The majestic Howard Dean coalition %u2014 youth, new voters, the “wired,” the “disenfranchised” %u2014 remains the France of electoral coalition-building: genuinely useful, if only it would freaking show up for the freaking fight. Sorry, but I’m a bit bitter about this. Participation soared across every demographic, including the underestimated People Michael Moore Likes to Make Fun Of. But the young-new-”disenfranchised” set sat around and played Halo 2 on the X-box instead of, you know, freaking voting. These are the same people who couldn’t be arsed to pick up the phones at Dean headquarters in South Carolina when I was there in January. (Fun Canadian fact: the Canadian leader who has put all of his hopes %u2014 and I mean all his hopes %u2014 on the Howard Dean coalition of non-voting non-voters is Jack Layton. Explains a lot, really.)

Is it just me, or is today’s politician professing support of the cell-phonin’ bloggin’ and non-voting voter nothing more than this decade’s version of the perpetual loser who claims that he speaks for the 30-odd percent of eligible voters who didn’t show up last time? Yes, he is.

Fear not, though, fellow associates of the Liberal Media™! Your life is not over if Bush is elected!

I wanted Kerry to win and I expected Kerry to win. But the journalist in me finds this result far more intriguing. Four more years? Oh, man, the ride’s barely beginning, and it’s going to be nuts.

Thanks, Paul. I needed that. If Bush does win—and, frankly, it’s looking likely barring a clusterfuck of Kerry votes in Cleveland—I can rest assured that there will be a lot to write about for now till 2009. I’m not sure how much I should look forward to it. (Well, I suppose that it’s no different from getting all giddy ten years ago over a dozen ODs in one night and a barnburnin’ story that writes itself…)

For another take, check Colby Cosh’s all-day electo-something.

Thursday, October 28, 2004



Take that, Gordo: NDP neophyte Jagrup Brar knocked off star BC Liberal candidate Mary Polak in today’s provincial byelection.

With unofficial numbers from 80 of the 104 polls, Brar has 4,321 votes while B.C. Liberal Mary Polak is well back in second with 2,963 votes.

Canadian Press has declared Brar the winner

With a few more polls rolling in, that lead is holding. Looks like a solid win of close to ten points. The Liberals’ Gulzar Cheema won the riding with 59% of the vote in 2001.

Already, the Liberals are griping about organized labor putting their support behind the NDP campaign, with union members seconded to help out the Dippers. Oh, there they go: Godon Campbell is griping about how Big Labour™ has always been opposed to his government’s agenda, with the old cranks that form the core audience of local talk outlet CKNW radio griping about unions, or, as they would no doubt write, Unions, doing things like “not hiring anyone under 30” and “wrecking the economy” and “not living in the real world.” Typical patter from talk-radio callers; I should not better than to tune in. I particularly liked the coot from Langley who attributed Brar’s win to the Indo-Canadian voters in Surrey, claiming that Brar would have won if he’d run as a Green. Apparently he hasn’t learned that Indo-Canadians are not a bloc vote, but most fo them do take their participatory democracy seriously; it was one of those traditions they brought over from the old country.

The Liberals, however, threw half the treasury (or so it seemed) at the by-election, doing everything from cutting the provincial sales tax by half a percentage point, spending over $35-million on transportation and schools in the riding, and pledging even more: a billion-dollar project to twin the Port Mann Bridge, the main span connecting Surrey to the civilised world. Half the Cabinet visited the riding, and the Liberals spred no expense in running star candidate Mary Polak.

Of course, Polak had her own baggage: she chaired the Surrey School Board as it frittered away over $1-million in a failed attempt to keep three lousy books depicting families with same-sex parent out of Surrey schools. That case made Polak, her collegues on the board, and Surrey look rather silly to city folks, altough the case and its cost didn’t keep Polak, a self-professed fiscal tightwad, from getting re-elected twice to the Surrey school board. Odds are that it had nothing to do with her loss tonight.

You can also expect the BC Liberals to brush off the loss as no big deal; hey, no governing party has won a by-election since 1981, right? Well, yeah, indeed. A closer look shows that the NDP government lost by-elections in ridings that they didn’t hold in the first place. The last time that by-election losses were a big deal was back in the Vander Zalm days, when the NDP was taking seats they almost never won—the old Boundary-Similkameen, Cariboo, and Point Grey ridings, not to mention Oak Bay—as the voters were sending a message to the SoCreds.

I hacked together a shortish feature on the byelection in last week’s Terminal City; sadly, it’s not available online while Terminal City reorders its website after a massive shakeup at the paper. Hint: it involved taking the piss out of Surrey, the parochial attitude of my paper (which considers anything east of oh, say, Renfrew Street to be foreign territory), and writing in the style of a stereotypical British foreign corro in some far-flung corner of the Empire.

UPDATE: WIth all polls reporting, Brar has won with 53% of the vote; Polak took 33%, with Green leader Adriane Carr well back at about 9%.

Gotta Love Ralph, not

Must be election time in Alberta: Ralph Klein’s attacking disability payment recipients. Odds are, that he wasn’t thinking when he said this…

In the same speech where he stressed the need to help the vulnerable, Klein said he was at a recent sod-turning where two women were “yipping about AISH payments.”

“They didn’t look severely handicapped to me, I tell you that for sure,” the premier said to a titter of laughter. “They both had cigarettes dangling from their mouth and cowboy hats.”

...but he did get a positive reaction from the crowd.

Not to get all huffy over this stuff—I rarely do, but I can tell you that there are a lot of people out there that don’t “look disabled” that frankly are fairly severely disabled.

Trouble is that despite putting out a bunch of apologia, that sort of line plays well with the I’m-all-right-Jack crowd that forms that basis of Klein’s support. Oh, to be a conservative politician in one-party Alberta.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Pundit Peter Principle

Michael Campbell, “business pundit” whose failures at running his own business caused him to retreat to the safe world of rehashing tired old Fraser Institute cliches, in today’s Sun:

In looking at the Downtown Eastside, it’s difficult to make the case that in order to give voice to our most disenfranchised neighbourhoods they need their own city councillor. Judging by the political and media attention the area garners, a visitor to the city over the past several years would be forgiven for thinking Hastings and Cordova is the nexus of political power in the city.

No link, thanks to the CanWest’s desire to keep this embarrassing twit locked up behind the subscriber firewall

A quick trip by any visitor to the Downtown Eastside—something that I doubt that either Michael or his brother has done recently—would likely condfirm that this isn’t the part of town that pulls the strings at 12th and Cambie.

Oh, and someone remind him that Hastings and Cordova Streets don’t actually intersect one another.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Black, Darkness

Slate’s Daniel Grossman elaborates on the misaventures of neoconservative icon Richard Perle’s misadventures in business at Conrad Black’s Hollinger Digital unit. It appears that Perle’s judgment is as flawed in business as it is in forign and defence policy.

Well, at least he can thank Black for giving him a cushy job while the Republicans were out of the White House.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Curious Logic

This story speaks volumes about the drones proud Americans rushing out to buy the book Unfit for Command, an anti-John Kerry screed recently in the news.

NEW YORK – The nation’s two biggest bookstore chains, Barnes & Noble and Borders, say angry customers are accusing them of political bias as the retailers struggle to keep up with demand for a best seller that questions John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam.

“Unfit for Command,” which went on sale Aug. 11 with a first printing of 85,000, will have 550,000 copies in print by next week, according to Regnery Publishing…

“The misunderstanding among customers seems to be that we are somehow taking an ideological stand,” Borders spokeswoman Jenie Dahlmann said Tuesday. “We would gladly sell the book, but … can’t get an adequate supply.”

Okay, let me get this straight: when both the retailer and publisheer underestimate the buzz and subsequent demand for a book, it’s prima facie evidence of bias? The persection complex among some conservative true-believers is even weirder than I thought. On the other hand, you’ve got liberals saying that B&N and Borders shouldn’t sell the book becuase it’s a hatchet job. Yecch.

I haven’t blogged much on the 2004 presidential eleciton down south; I suspect it’s because it’s kind of distant, especially compared to up-close look at the recent Canadian election that I enjoyed. Nonetheless, I point you to a couple of tidbits realted to the flim-flam over what John Kerry did or didn’t do in Vietnam.

Okay, and one last question: If quesitons raised by a bunch of career critics of Kerry’s is enough to render him unfit for office, then what about the giant gaps in Dubya’s service in the Champagne Squadron where he courageously defended Texas from Louisiana?

Jes’ askin’, thas’ all.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Link Pruning

Yes, I realise that fiddling with the blogroll is probably not a high proprity given that I really should be working on this thing so that you can read my drivel there rather than here. Nonetheless, I draw your attention to three new adds in the "Canucks" section -- the excellent Tilting at Windmills, and two with Bell Globemedia conections: CTV web journo and info-scout extraordinaire Bill Doskoch's new blog, and Living Can Kill You from web producer Craig Saila. I've also pulled the links to CanWest Global provincial-affairs columnists Vaughn Palmer, Mike Smyth, and Les Leyne. This decision has nothing to do with politics, but rather that their material is now subscriber-only, and if you subscribe to either the Province, Sun, or Times-Colonist, you don't need my help to find their stuff.

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