Fandom

As a Canucks Fan, often I am unsure who to support when Playoffs come around. That last sentence is really funny to fans of 28 other teams, even though for some (I’m looking at you, Buffalo) it cuts close.

The question is not an easy one, as being a Canucks fan for several decades, I have built up a long series of grudges against the entire NHL. With the possible exception of the Blues, I have at least some reason to hate every team. Even the Canucks were coached by Keenan for a while, which is pretty unforgivable, and you still sometimes see somebody wearing Maki’s #11 Canucks jersey with Messier on the back, and shake your head. But we soldier on. We are all Canucks, as they say.

With the first Round of the Playoffs under way, I do have to make a call here to maintain my attention until the Giro starts, so here is the first Patrickjohnstone.ca listicle:

In inverse order, the teams I most hope win the Stanley Cup, 2018:

16: Boston The dirty, rotten, oughta be kicked out of the NHL Bruins are everything wrong with Hockey. They cheated and cheap-shotted their way into the playoffs again. Bruins Fandom is, based on my own anecdotal experience, correlated well with sociopathy. I hate the Bruins so much I don’t even order from Boston Pizza, I don’t even watch re-runs of Cheers.

15: Toronto At this fragile time for Canada’s Confederation, I’m not sure we could handle the indignity of watching Premier-elect Doug Ford hoisting the Cup at Dundas Square in June. For the good of the Nation, and all that is holy, Toronto must lose.

14: Los Angeles Almost as bad as Boston, but not even as good at being as bad. Drew Doughty? Dustin Brown? Dion Phaneuf? I guess their moms love them. I went to a Canucks Game in Los Angeles once, and really, not even their fans like the Kings, and they have won a couple of Cups recently. Gross.

13: Winnipeg It would be intolerable in the rest of Canada if the Jets won. It seems half of the population of every other City in Canada is “from Winnipeg”, and drags their Jets and Bombers jerseys out for important games, embarrassing all in their vicinity. It makes me wonder if there is anyone left in Winnipeg, and if people are so damn proud of Winnipeg, why does no one live there? I’m with The Weakerthans here.

12: Columbus
12: San Jose
12: Nashville I have no specific love or hate for any of these teams, I just have this weird notion that if another team wins their first Cup before the Canucks win their first cup, it somehow diminishes the Canucks. So: No, no, and no.

9: Tampa Bay
9: Anaheim
9: Philadelphia The second half of my 6-way tie of ambivalence. Same as above, except these teams have won Cups in the past and the further-shaming-the Canucks factor isn’t in there. No love here, no specific hate, I would find any of these wins supremely uninteresting. So: Yawn, yawn, and yawn.

6: New Jersey A little bit like above, but I want to think a Jersey win would at least make David Puddy happy. And guy deserves it after all Elaine put him through.

5: Colorado They really snuck into the playoffs, and have no hope. But everyone loves a good underdog story, and I am not made of stone. Is Partick Roy still involved?

4: Minnesota Wait, they still have a team? How is that even a thing? I guess if they win, it would piss off Winnipeg, so that’s a bonus.

3: Washington They have Ovi and he isn’t getting any younger, so it would be good to see him get a reward for being one of the most skilled goal scorers in the history of the game. If Ovi is winning, the game is more fun to watch. Bonus: watching CNN tie themselves in knots when they find out that Washington D.C. has a hockey team, whose Captain is a big Putin supporter, should make the obligatory visit to the White House interesting.

2: Vegas There are lots of things that make me want to support Vegas: the brilliance/ stupidity of the drafting process that made this possible, the ugliness of their entire marketing package, their pretty killer social media presence. I can;t get past the sense they are punking us all, daring us to take them seriously, sort of like the Beck Hansen of Hockey. They also have the most Canadian roster of any team, so I want to cheer for them. What’s wrong? The smug look on Bettman’s face if it were to occur. It is possible that the T-Mobile Arena is the only one he could stride into carrying the Con Smyth, and not get booed. And I can’t tolerate that.

1: Pittsburgh I have nothing against Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby is the best player of his generation, deserving of all the accolades he gets, and probably a lot more. The franchise has done so much right over the last decade that the word “dynasty” may come back to the NHL. Besides, what else does the City of Pittsburgh have going for it? Give them this. Go flightless waterfowl!

This is fine

This shouldn’t fill me with rage. I think the intent was to do the opposite; to provide me a guide to supplant anger and frustration with quiet acceptance. A serenity prayer to bring calm to the unrelenting intensity of our times. Instead, I found myself yelling at the radio on a Sunday Morning:

“You entitled asshole! How dare you tell everyone calm down!”

No surprise, the essayist in question is a white septuagenarian upper middle class Canadian male idling away his dotage by providing accumulated wisdom via the established media. Perhaps the messenger was the message.

For his regular Sunday morning essay, Canada’s kind leather-elbow-patched uncle Michael Enright decided to remark on a sense of despair or foreboding expressed by his fellow white-coiffed legacy journalist Gary Mason. In it, Mason remarked on the many aspects of our current troubled times, and invoked an interest in just getting away from it all. To which Enright prescribed a healthy dose of calming baroque music.

Which brought this to mind for me:
As Mason pointed out, this is a terrible time for many parts of the industrial world, and Canada is surrounded by storm clouds. This appears to be the decade where all the bad cheques written by 30 years of NeoLiberalism get cashed. Climate tipping pints are passing like telephone poles on a desert highway, stagnation of wages and erosion of social supports are run up against a cost of living inflated by speculative money trading and wealth measured by the ability to avoid taxation. For the first time we can be sure this generation will have less than the previous, and the next will be left to pick the scraps. Instead of lifting leaders willing to address the causes of inequity and despair, the exploited and disenfranchised are turning to despotic strongmen driving wedges to split apart the fibres of our society. To quote Mason’s article “We are living in times as dangerous and unpredictable as there’s been in 80 years.”

This is no more apparent than in media, the industry these two men inhabit. Hedge fund managers own every newspaper of note in Canada, a small collection of very rich and politically-connected individuals own every other traditional media channel, and use them to shamelessly shape political opinion. The President of the United States openly calls for the destruction of media organizations that counter the narrative presented by his defacto propaganda channel. In Canada, the second party in the House is increasingly being managed by alt-right propagandists and white nationalists who were apparently too radical for Rebel Media. Meanwhile, the emergent new media streams are being dominated by algorithms designed by the security apparata of hostile nations to bend our minds into false narratives and shape our political views at a scale that would have terrified Orwell.

That is the landscape that one of our dead-tree media stalwarts caught a momentary glimpse of, and suggested he felt the need to escape. To which Enright, in all of the comfort and security of resources drawn from the savings account of future generations, replied: just listen to Beethoven. It’ll all be fine. “The best medicine for what ails Mr. Mason and the rest of us is music”.

In an effort to avoid the long stream of profanity I feel, and to speak in the generational parlance of Mr Enright: Bollocks!

The only Sabbath Mason needs now is a Black one. If music is to be applied to this malaise, let it be loud, aggressive, and filled with calls to action. The Clash, Rage Against the Machine, Anti-Flag, anyone who has taken seriously the hard work of yelling at fascists. Now is not the time for journalists to chill to a Bach cantata, it I time for the Fourth Estate to stand the hell up and start shouting about the chaos they are seeing.

If the likes of Enright and Mason are as seriously concerned about the fate of their children and egalitarian society as they claim, I don’t understand how solemnly lamenting their fate while enjoying a little Puccini is seen as a valid response. These gentlemen have been granted (earned?) three hours of national radio every week / ample column inches in an ever-shrinking media landscape. I humbly suggest they get past their woe-is-me head-under the pillow bullshit and start doing their job.

The media already has enough old men yelling at clouds for being a lesser shade of white than in their halcyon youth, dispatching their “I got mine” wisdom nuggets from their comfortable porches on the Sunshine Coast or “cattle ranches called the Schively” (dear Christ, did Enright actually say that!?). These are not the realities of young people in Vancouver or Toronto struggling with stagnant wages and housing crises and collapsing hopes, of First Nations across the country still waiting for the promise of some sort of reconciliation for their inter-generational sabotage, of a globe of youth facing terrifying implications of global climate shifts and concomitant migrations spawning a new rise of wall-builders (metaphorical and literal) and sabre-rattlers and possessors of ICBMs that can deliver hypersonic glide vehicles to any point on the planet as easily as their software that can deliver hundreds of thousands of duped votes to ballot boxes in the same far-off places.

Far from the luxury of seeking Bechet as an escape from the bedlam of a society stacked against them, there is a generation in this country, and across the industrialized world, who are feeling right now the doom of this bedlam, and cannot even dream of a dotage of relaxed musical contemplation. And it is you, Mr. Enright, and your industry that is, right now, the first up against the wall, being torn apart by a new wave of fascist demagogues from Moscow to Manila to Beijing to Washington, as dictators have always taken apart the free press at the beginning of their destructive rule. If you need contemplation in this time of chaos, be it in contemplating whether you are willing to take up the fight now to protect the things that made your life so comfortable?

Escaping from it all is a luxury that serves to demonstrate the privilege too many in your generation (and in your industry!) don’t even recognize as existing. Taking that luxury at this time may be the final (but not greatest) insult you generation imposes on your children.

Damn, I need a coffee.

That New Premier Smell

You may have seen this graphic across the #CDNPoli Social Media this week:

It reinforces whatever political biases you bring into it: Horgan is doing OK; Wynne is a wreck; PEI doesn’t matter. But I took something else out of it, and had to draw my own graph to demonstrate it:

Politics is a hell of a business.

For the rest of us who slept through Statistics 101, an R of .92 is a pretty high correlation, so I can definitively say popularity as a Premier in Canada correlates negatively with time in office. Any Premier above that trend line is doing better than average, any premier below the line is doing worse than average. Arguably, Pallister is doing worse than McNeil on average, but you know which I would rather be going into re-election.

Because in politics, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are above or below the line here. The only lesson to be learned from this graph is that the best you can hope for in Provincial Politics in Canada is to get things done before that New Premier Smell wears off. As years in office accumulate, any successes or victories are quickly weighed down by a legacy of being to blame for everything that may have gone wrong. Inevitably some of that is your fault (no one is perfect) and some is beyond your control, but in politics at the highest level, it simply doesn’t matter.

The only good way out of politics is to recognize when the door has been opened for you, and get out. Problem is, that kind of self-recognition is the first thing to be eroded by electoral success and access to power. Entering politics in the first place requires hubris, time in politics increases hubris, getting out requires absence of hubris. You can see the problem here.

I’m not sure how this plays out at the Municipal level, but I am just going to leave this post here, and hopefully someone will point it out to me when I am considering my 6th term for Council.

Vacation

I haven’t written much here as of late, and I’m only here to say I’m not going to for a bit longer.

It was a busy last few months, and @MsNWimby and I have taken a vacation. We’ve relocated for a couple of weeks to some place sunny where we can ride bicycles in the morning, sit on a beach getting caught up on some reading in the afternoon, and spend altogether too much time staring off in to the distance and thinking about the plans ahead…

If you follow me on Facebook, you may see the occasional glimpse of my vacationary adventures. I’ll post if I feel like it, but hey, I’m on vacation.

Regular (or at least the usual semi-regular) programming here will resume early in January. I have a bunch of half-formed ideas for posts, a few things in the queue, and some ideas about next year, which looks to be a busy one. Also, there is some sort of electoral event arriving in October, the “silly season” for which has clearly already started. Alas.

In the meantime, I hope you are spending Christmas doing the things you love the most, with the people you love the most. See you in 2018.

on diversity

On Saturday, local government elected types met in North Vancouver for a Council of Council meeting. For a great write-up of what the meeting is and what we discussed, surf over to Nathan Pachal’s great South Fraser blog. I want to talk about another conversation that came out of the CofC.

At the event, Councillor Trentadue leaned over to me and made the observation (I paraphrase) “Crazy how little diversity there is in this room”. This lack of diversity was also noticed by others covering the event, noted in a few tweets:

I had an afternoon meeting for the Lower Mainland LGA, and side-bar conversations with a few of the Councillors continued on this theme, partly because some members of LMLGA are working on an event to discuss the general lack of “civility” in civic politics, and how that creates barriers to full participation. The story of Mayor Read of Maple Ridge announcing she will not stand for a second term was also fresh in our minds. It would be puerile to assume these issues are not interconnected.

But it go us to talking about the why. Is it the electorate not voting for diversity, or is there something structural in the job that prevents diversity? That seems like something that should be easy to figure out.

I quickly went to the CivicInfo 2014 election results database to ask the question – do we not vote for women, or are women not running? Of the 19 local governments in Greater Vancouver that report on the (binary, natch) gender of candidates (Vancouver and Bowen Island do not provide this data) for Mayor and Council, the data gives us this:

For Council, 33% of candidates were women, and 38% of those elected were women.

For Mayor, 16% of candidates were women, and 16% of the winners were women. Perhaps more tellingly, there was a woman on the mayoral ballot in only 7 of 19 communities (three were elected).

As a first-level approximation, we can suggest that voters, when given the opportunity, vote for women at least as commonly as for men. However, there are half as many women running for Council, and a paltry one-in-six mayoral candidates are women. If it isn’t the voter’s fault that local government is so dominated by men, what is it about the job that so biases those who apply for the job? I have my own suspicions, but maybe I’m not the right person to answer that question?

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no data collected on whether candidates identify as persons of colour, members of a First Nation, or have disabilities. It is harder to tell if it is the voters that account for the shade of the average Council of Council room.

I should note that it was pointed out to me recently (through a letter to Mayor and Council) that there is a general a lack of diversity in our Council Advisory Committees, and that the City does not appear to be taking any specific actions towards increasing that diversity (hey, apply for a committee now!). It is also recognized that the current Public Consultation and Public Hearing model is dominated by, well, the dominant demographic. I don’t have the answers here, but strongly feel we need to broaden public participation at the community level first if we are going to see more diversity in elected roles. Unless we do, it is hard to call our society “democratic”.

Monday.

The most unusual Council Monday. Full of highs and lows.

It started out joyful with two great friends showing up to get married at City Hall (in a cyclist tradition going back at least to Moocher and Nancy in Breaking Away). They were married in the Mayor’s Office by my Council colleague who happens to be a Marriage Commissioner! I feel lucky to have met Jen and Simon through strange consequence of circumstances, and it was great to see their beaming faces on their special day. Good people.

A few hours later, all of Council was saddened to learn that a great friend and community leader in New Westminster had passed away from a pretty sudden illness. Bill will leave a big hole in our community, his contribution was huge. His career was saving lives, and his volunteer efforts were tireless. I feel lucky to have met him, shared many laughs, and to have taken his advice (although his attitude about maintaining a cleanly-shaved face was clearly a step too far for me). The only consolation this evening was in knowing that the community that he and Lynn spent so much of their time building is standing up to support Lynn at her time of sorrow.

Life is short, folks, but there is a lot of joy to be found in caring for others. And in the end, that’s all that matters.

Volunteers

As I noted a little earlier, this summer has been pretty active in New West. This last weekend the trend continued with the annual Pride Street Party. There were community groups booths, three stages with entertainment, an active kid’s area, beer gardens, food trucks, and local restaurants and beer gardens were filled to overflowing. While other parts of the City and the world were having confrontations about inclusiveness and diversity, thousands of people filled Columbia Street to celebrate victories won for inclusion and understanding, and had fun on a sunny afternoon.

It was a great day in New West, and one that would not have been possible without an army of volunteers.

New West Pride Society is a volunteer-run society that organizes and executes the entire event. The City helps with a grant through our festival grant program, and many sponsors step up to pay for everything from volunteer t-shirts to stage rental and advertising. However all of the actual work, the organization, the year of planning, the hundreds of tasks on event day, everything is done by volunteers.

It isn’t just Pride. The New West Farmers Market, the New West Cultural Crawl, The New West Grand Prix, the Hyack International Parade,  Pecha Kucha NW, the New West Film Fest, the events that make the City come alive, are run largely on the backs of volunteer labour. Lots of Volunteer labour.

No surprising point to this, just a short post to give an extra “Thanks” to the volunteers that make this City so full of great activity – from the Presidents of Societies that work all year long, to the folks who show up on game day to sell tickets or pick up litter. I hope that everyone who enjoyed an event this year will think about volunteering for next year’s version of whatever event they enjoyed (and it doesn’t have to be just one). It doesn’t take much time (many hands make light work), you might get a T-shirt (see banner), and it makes the event even more enjoyable for you. You can say “I helped make this happen”, you will help create more opportunities to enjoy the summer with your friends, and you will more likely than not make new friends.

A modest proposal…

We all just lost an hour sleep. It makes us grumpy, large-data-set-grinding nerds tell us it causes a measurable increase in accidents, parents have to manage cycle-conditioned children. Many question the reasoning of it all.

Some say the archaic practice has to be done away with, despite alleged energy efficiency gains and whatever agrarian benefits might have brought us the concept of “saving” daylight with our watches. I am not one of those, but might humbly suggest adapting *how* we practice the fall-backward / spring-forward dance ritual.

I hate the end of daylight savings, because suddenly it is dark on the way home from work, and I have to dig my bike lights out before my commute – the surest sign that summer is truly over. However, this is an inevitable product of the tilt of the planet, not our artificial mucking with sun-clock synch. This way, it is more of a band-aid rip than a dragging out of the coming darkness – it would happen if we didn’t switch clocks, just sooner. That is hardly a reason to hate daylight savings.

The reality is that most people prefer falling back, because we get that extra hour of sleep. We are a society of underslept, overworked drones feeding an unrelenting God we call “the Economy”, and love an extra hour of respite whenever we can get it. Despite the gloomy weather ahead, we all take that hour of sleep as a wonderful gift (ignoring the Marshmallow Test implications of it all).

This is what caused me to think that the entire problem is the springing forward and resultant loss of sleep. We cannot afford to lose sleep in this frantic lifestyle. So why do we?

The simple change I propose is to shift the “leap forward” moment from 2:00am on a Sunday to 4:00pm on a Friday. That way, the weekend comes 1 hour earlier for everyone. 1 less hour of waking (and working) means we will enter spring more refreshed and better slept, not the opposite. Who isn’t ready to get off work and have a beer at 4:00 on a Friday in early March? We can treat it like a 1-hour Statutory Holiday at a time of year when we need it the most. Bonus less bike light need.

Or, alternately, instead of going on the internet to complain about losing an hour of sleep, people could just go to bed an hour earlier. That would work, too.

Dumpster Fire

I haven’t written anything about the ongoing US election, which I guess is strange as I am supposed to be a politician, have lots of opinions, and it appears to be the only story that matters. It’s not like I’m disinterested; I watched all three debates, I have been compulsively checking FiveThirtyEight for the last couple of weeks, I have had been in many conversations that veered over towards the dumpster fire election, I have even occasionally engaged with Vlad, New Westminster’s Facebook Trump Fan Extraordinaire. It impacts my life, my planet, I care. I just haven’t built up the will to write about it.

Three days out, this is all I have to say.

Many commenters and pundits suggest that both parties ran terrible candidates. That any Democrat not as universally hated as Clinton would be running circles around Trump, and that if the Republicans had run a more mainstream candidate (insert Rubio, Jeb, or even Romney) then they would be running away with this. I disagree.

First off, it perpetrates this false equivalency notion: that they are both equally terrible candidates for President. We have demonstrably the most qualified candidate in the history of the presidency, a lawyer who spent her career in public service fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised, who spent years being not a passive, but active member of the Arkansas Governor’s mansion and White House, who was elected to the Senate and served with huge public support and success, who served as Secretary of State at a time of great conflict. No-one in the country can claim to have a better understanding of what the job of President really is, and what it means, or is as prepared to fill that role. She is running against a blowhard serial criminal and scam artist who doesn’t just lie pathologically, but lives in a universe of his own truths, who has a life-long history of putting his over-inflated fragile balloon of an ego in front of any other consideration, has failed at business, marriage, and friendship more times than can be counted, and displays Fascist tendencies towards the very institutions of democracy, including the vote, the courts, and the media. These are not equal humans by any measure.

I would argue, however, that Trump is the only candidate who would have this level of success against Clinton. Recognizing her complete and utterly dominant resume, he is the only one with the willingness and ability to fan the flames of misogyny and hate that have undercut the campaign. The only one who can tell the only demographic firmly against Clinton – white males – that it is OK to call her a bitch, a whore, fat, ugly and conniving, “Jezebel” if you are of the Alt-Christian Right persuasion, and all the misogynist language and thinking that forms the undercurrent of the campaign.

Any mainstream candidate would have had to disavow that type of language, that type of thinking. They may have tried the dogwhistle arguments about her “weakness” or “lack of stamina” or “bad judgement”, but those are easily refuted with the record, play against the idea that she is some existential threat, and is perhaps too subtle for the low-brow target market. Trump (and the people he surrounds himself with – men and women) are more than happy to let “Shoot the Bitch” T-shirts be circulated at their rallies, to drag out victims of her husband’s alleged sexual deviancy two decades ago to bring into question her competency as a spouse (which is, of course, a metric only applied to women), to fill the minds of lower and middle class white guys who have been victims of long-term stagnation, liberalism and globalization with a list of “others” to blame – coloureds, “Chuy-na”, and women not fulfilling their roles as sexual possessions. This is the base upon which Trump has built his support, and perhaps the only thing more disgusting is the stunned-into-acquiescence mainstream of the Republican Party, who are not willing to take part in fanning those flames, but are happy to receive the warmth. And some, I assume, are good people.

There are other forces this election. People are disenfranchised, have been told for a decade that the country they are supposed to be so proud of is a laughing stock, there doesn’t seem to be much good news on the perpetual-war front, they are sick, poor, and underemployed. The “economy” is no longer serving them, as individuals, with few prospects ahead. It has been a long and winding path out of the flaming crater of the 2008 financial crisis. Of course, it is patently ridiculous to think that the person who has benefitted the most from laissez-faire capitalism, dysfunctional courts, globalization and a corrupted tax system – Donald J Trump – is somehow going to take apart the systems that gilded his world with the sweat equity of the beleaguered American worker. The American voter may not be smart, but they are smarter than that. Trump’s hate message is not as directed as it could be, but without hatred of Clinton’s biggest crime – being a woman in power – his campaign would have been buried months ago.

I think Clinton is going to win, solidly, but not by the landslide she deserves. She will then be subjected to 4 (or 8) years of unrelenting misogyny and personal attacks while she tries to do the job as best she can within a damaged political system. She will do it with strength and dignity, perhaps lacking the eloquence and charisma of (either) Obama. Like she has for the last couple of decades, she will continue to rise above it all to do the hard work of governance, and those who will benefit the most will rarely feign to thank her for it.

on the commute.

The Ides of August was hellish for people trying to get home from work. It was a hot day by Vancouver standards, without much of a breeze, but the sweat on the brows was more caused by a series of incidents where cars unsuccessfully tried to share space with one another.helltraffic1

However, on a hot day like this, one incident causing delay often cascades into a series of other incidents as people become less patient, less rational, and the natural dehumanizing effects of being in a car get people treating everyone around them, the people they share a community with, like their mortal enemies for having the gall of trying to do the same thing they themselves are doing because aaaAAAARRGGH!

helltraffic2

I commute by car, by transit, and by bike, depending on day, weather, schedule, and lifestyle factors. Yesterday, I was fortunate to have taken my bike into work, so my commute home was relatively stress free. I have to admit a bit of smugness enters the mind when you are relaxed on a bike, enjoying the weather, and pedaling softly by a long line of single-occupant cars, which almost offsets the self-hatred I suffer every time I am in the car, stuck in a line, and see some much happier person riding their bike past me. However, having been that person stuck in a car, stuck in traffic that I am also a part of, it never occurred to me to blame the person on the bike for my physical predicament, or my mental state.

So yesterday, I am riding east along Westminster Highway near the Nature Park during this traffic chaos when I see something new to me. I am exposed to Richmond Drivers on a daily basis, but this was a little over the top. There was a line of about six or seven cars just rolling down the bike lane. It is almost as if the drivers had decided that two lanes were not enough, and had, en masse, decided this is a three lane road, passing the vehicles stuck to their left. At some point, a group of about 4 were stopped at a light, and I rolled past them. This might have been a little untoward, but after all, it is a bike lane – no sharrows or bus stop or shared parking space or right turn lane ambiguity here, and I was on a bicycle.

This was too much for a guy in a 4th generation Camaro Convertible with the ginormous Polska Pride flag decal covering the the hood. He took the opportunity to suggest to me in no uncertain terms, that I should not be riding my bicycle “on the road”. I saw this as a great time to remind him that I was, in fact in a bike lane, as evidenced by the nearby signage, and that he, in fact was also in the bike lane, without a bike, so I may have been in the right here.

At this point, he started into a lengthy screed, which was about 40% profanity and about 60% Bruce Allen “reality check”, neither of which were probably appropriate for the 8 year old in the passenger seat to witness. The short version was that bicycle riders don’t buy insurance, they should not be on the road, and that I, although obviously homosexual, engage in unwholesome acts with my mother.

I rode away from him and his impotent rage, and generally enjoyed the rest of my ride home. I did so, however, once again wondering what it is about driving a car that dehumanizes us. Why do we behave in a line of cars like we never would in a line at a bank? Why do we feel a car allows us the threaten and intimidate other people, be they children or senior citizens, and yell racial and homohpbic epithets that we would never do at a public park, on the beach, at work or in a mall? Outside of actual war, is there any other group activity we volunteer to engage in where we so publicly and unabashedly hate the people we are surrounded by? Why do we even do it?

Also, what is this strange fascination with attempting to license bicycles like they are some sort of parallel with cars? As His Snobbiness (slightly profanely) reminds us: you don’t need a commercial pilot’s license to operate a car. Bicycles present pretty nearly no risk whatsoever to drivers, passengers, or public property, except for some risk of scuffing the paint on their car, for which ICBC will make the person at fault pay. Even if I did buy insurance attendant to the risk I present to third parties (which would surely cost a few dollars a year relative to the risk I pose when I shuffle down the road at 100km/h in 2,000lbs of steel), do I think Mr. Polska Camaro is suddenly going to see me as a legitimate sharer of road space and afford me respect?

Yet for some reason, otherwise seemingly rational public servants from Toronto to Vancouver suggest there is some problem with adults riding bicycles that licensing can somehow cure. They aren’t too sure what the problem is, and have a hard time tying this solution to it, but they need to be seen to be doing something about the bicycles, because people in bicycles are not angry enough.

Let’s all try to get along, folks. Autumn is nearly here.