4
Mar 19

It’s like déjà vu all over again.

1981, meet 2019.  Western alienation has reached fever pitch, a guy named Trudeau is Prime Minister of Canada, and Queen’s “Under Pressure” is on endless loop in my brain, thanks to the media frenzy surrounding ex-Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould (henceforth, JWR):

"Pressure!

Pushing down on me

Pressing down on you... no man ask for

Under Pressure!"

The Globe and Mail pried the lid off the flatulent SNC-Lavalin scandal in early February.  Ever since then an impenetrable smog of explanations, deflections, excuses and denials has wafted forth from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his heavies.  And they have made, in sum, about as much sense as the mumbo-jumbo preamble to Queen’s iconic hit:

"Mmm num ba de
Dum bum ba be
Doo buh dum ba beh beh"

The capper to this malodourous drivel came via Trudeau’s press conference last Wednesday evening in response to JWR’s explosive Justice committee appearance.  Her testimony blew like a nuclear warhead through the glass house of Liberal pretensions, blasting away the obfuscatory fog to expose the PM as a self-interested charlatan ensconsed in a nest of law-bending yes-men.  And yes, the ring-leaders are all men:  Butts, Wernick, Morneau, Trudeau - outed as the four musketeers of misogyny. Read the rest of this entry »

28
Dec 18

Short men don’t slouch.

Every single height-challenged male carries himself as erect as he is able, straining to exert every last millimeter of vertical presence.  It’s a verifiable truth - just look around.

Short guys always yearn to be bigger.  Consider, as very public example, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.  By adding five inches to his pint-sized frame with platform shoes and another five inches by combing his hair straight up he stretches at full extension to five feet and seven inches of dictatorial pomposity.

And while most don’t go to the “lengths” of Kim Jong-Un to increase their physical presence, some diminutive males attempt to compensate for their size via out-sized impacts of a different sort.  Take, for instance, Ross “I’m all ears” Perot, dollars-per-inch the richest human alive.  Not content with proving his “big-ness” with massive financial success, the five-foot five-inch American took a bold run in 1992 at becoming President of the United States.  He fell, ahem, short, but took enough support from George H.W. Bush to hand Bill Clinton the presidency with only 43% of the vote.  (It’s a lesson that Canada’s Maxime Bernier, of commendable physical span but alarmingly short on political sense, seems determined to re-learn.) Read the rest of this entry »

15
Dec 18

I was crushed.

“No can do”, said the ethics review board, mustering all of its collective wisdom.

Project cancelled.

Months of work down the tubes.  Long hours burning the midnight oil, precious time carved from what little remained outside of my clinical duties as a trainee in emergency medicine - time spent assembling the countless pieces crucial to a successful research project, combing through hundreds of journals for data to support its premise, devising recruitment and randomization strategies, tweaking study design, and most painfully, stuffing myself through a crash course on statistical analysis.

Some folks take to “stats” as if to the manner born, soaking in the language of data analysis like parched cacti greedily sucking in water.  I’m not one of those people. I was caught one morning, during a mandatory meeting to discuss research protocol design, between two colleagues endlessly debating the relative merits of the chi-square test versus Fisher’s Exact Test. It was excruciating, like being trapped in a migraine sandwich. Read the rest of this entry »

5
Apr 18

Yesterday’s op-ed piece by Josh Gordon in the Vancouver Sun ("Speculation tax is essential for housing affordability") should be shredded and composted across the province as potent fertilizer to the spring growing season, so pure is the horse manure contained therein.  Bumper crops would be assured.

Mr. Gordon, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University, attempts a robust defense of the tax, a wrong-headed initiative germinated in the first place by fellow luminaries at the University of B.C.  It makes one wonder whether the professors have been indulging overmuch in that famous B.C. bud. A short vacation from academic haze to the real world is overdue, I think.

The initial concerns and problems with the tax “have now been addressed”, claims Mr. Gordon, before he goes on to completely ignore the disproportionate effect of the speculation levy on fellow Canadians.  Out-of-province Canadians with vacation homes in B.C. will be still be on the hook for a one percent annual levy on the assessed value of their property:  for a $500,000 home, that means an extra five grand in taxes, each year, every year.

With fully 81% of British Columbians in support of the speculation tax it would seem to be a smash home-run as policy, a sure-fire political winner.

Maybe.  But just because something seems initially “popular” doesn’t make it right, or even popular.

It’s all in the framing, and the question put to British Columbians frames the tax, wrongly, as a “speculation” tax.  As B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson rightly pointed out in the legislature:

“A speculator is someone who buys a property solely to flip it. A speculator is someone who parks offshore money in our real estate, hoping to protect themselves from the turmoil in global markets. A speculator is someone who uses bare trusts to avoid paying property transfer taxes, thereby allowing multiple sales and resales with no change in title.A speculator is not someone who pays taxes here and owns a vacation cottage. These folk are not trying to capitalize on our out-of-control housing market.” Read the rest of this entry »

3
Mar 18

It’s hard being me.

Seriously.

I’m tired, weary of “checking my privilege”.

By dumb luck I’m rooted to this planet as an SWM, a straight white male, my mere existence offensive, by default sexist, homophobic, racist - a blight on society, judging by the relentless onslaught of social justice warrior (SJW) messaging.  The post-modern left, as author A.R. Devine explains, holds straight white males to be inferior humans "who should keep their mouths shut and know their place" - privileged, therefore scum.

And it’s hard on me.  We all want to be loved, after all.

The protracted battle of SJW v. SWM is not much of a contest these days. Imagine, for a terrifying moment,  Mike Tyson in his fearsome prime pounding on Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair, and you have accurately grasped the current tilt and tenor of this conflict.

Worse, I’m a married man, hence a wife-beater at heart.  That worthy insight arrived courtesy of Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s wondrously accomplished minister of foreign affairs, in an interview with liberal arts magazine The Walrus – published, in no small irony, on Valentine’s Day: “I’m a woman. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. One hundred years ago, I would’ve been beaten by my husband. That’s what happened to pretty much all women.” Read the rest of this entry »

17
Jan 18

Wrinkling my nose against the acrid smell of sweat clinging to his hockey uniform, I carefully probed the teenager's impressively swollen wrist.  I sent him off to the radiology department with his grandmother and turned my attention immediately to another patient in the endless emergency queue, completely forgetting to send a digital requisition for the needed X-rays.

The radiology technician, attempting to correct my omission, asked grandma which doctor had attended her grandson.  “I can’t remember,” she said, “But it was the short, handsome, Latino man.”

One out of three isn’t bad, I suppose:  I’m a card-carrying member of the pocket-doctor set, indisputably small.

Her generous assessment of my wrinkly mug as “handsome” was proof only that she had to be legally blind, surely beset by the densest of cataracts.  My vacation-acquired tan penetrated her milky lenses just enough for her to kindly bestow me with Brazilian or Puerto Rican heritage.

Ironically, though my roots are thoroughly Dutch, I'm endowed with the mercurial temper for which Latinos are famous (a most ignorant stereotype, let me hasten to stress, before level-headed Latin Americans launch irritable volleys of protest in my direction). Read the rest of this entry »