Monday, December 17, 2018

a news service

Dictionary entries are filed alphabetically: choose a letter to view entries.
The dictionary contains 611 entries.


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Palmer, Vaughn

Aggrieved White Guy, veteran Vancouver Sun small-c conservative provincial pundit, with the temperament of a overfed wharf rat. He’s wild about the infinite malfeasance of government, but lazily uninterested in social policy, culture, environment, and subjects beyond easy reach. Having written close to 1000 consecutive columns attacking B.C’s NDP governments may be excusable in the circumstance. Being a major contributor to the media’s demonization of governement where ever it is found on the West Coast is without excuse.

Parizeau, Jacques

Recent Quebec separatist leader, Premier and poutine-inflated Lee Van Cleef look-alike. Parizeau led Quebec’s 1995 attempt to escape from Canada until Lucien Bouchard took over. Resigned as premier after pointing out that if everybody in Quebec were French-speaking and of French origin, Quebec could be a republic with ethnic and cultural policies as much fun as those in Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. Parizeau is currently drinking 7-Up, pondering imponderables, studying the career of Cardinal Richelieu and jamming his foot into his mouth whenever the Parti Quebecois needs someone to take a fall for it.

Parliament

Before Pierre Trudeau started the movement to Americanize the Canadian political system, parliament was the governing legislative body of Canada. Members of Parliament are now alternately comatose and hysterical while they await their pensions and the results of cabinet sessions, although the advent of parliamentary television has led to an illicit trade in amphetamines and other awakeness-simulating drugs.

Parti Quebecois

Formerly a social democratic political party in Quebec led by Rene Levesque and aimed at reenacting the Plains of Abraham battle of 1759 where British General Wolfe defeated a gang of drunken French soldiers under Montcalm. The party has gradually been taken over by crazed nationalists, language-deluded New Conservatives, church/state integrationists and Lucien Bouchard-for King enthusiasts. Separation referendums in 1980 and 1995 were inconclusive, except to let Quebec know that the financial community wasn’t going to stand for much more nonsense from either side.

Partnerships

Recently-invented cultural procedure in which governments and corporations leap into bed, pretend to hump one another, then invite the public to sit on the end of the bed for the announcement that, in the interests of economic growth and sound management, tax burdens have been shifted from the corporations to the general public, and that all cultural programs will put on a profit/loss basis, with the profits group to the corporate sector.

Party Building

PARTY BUILDING:

a political euphemism for selling out core values and sacrificing the public good along with any other institution in the country for short-term practical gains and/or more seats in parliament. Ed Broadbent did this in 1988, turning Canada over to Brian Mulroney’s corporate trade fiends in the hope of gaining a few more seats in parliament at the expense of John Turner’s Liberals, with whom he was in agreement over the dangers of involving the country in a free trade agreement with the US that would undermine the country’s political and economic independence. The Progressive Conservatives did it in 2003 when they climbed into bed with the fundamentalists and corporate crackpots of the Canadian Alliance to form the “new” and patently “unprogressive” Conservative Party. The Liberals do it all the time, but since all they believe in is power and contingency anyway, no one notices.

Peacekeepers

Troops sent to political hot-zones to keep crazed ethnic groups from murdering one another, and to keep enough of our armed forces outside the country that we’ll remember we’re not [Americans]. Canada’s most successful peacekeeping foray has been in Cyprus, where Canadians and others have kept Greek and Turkish factions from their genocidal destinies for three decades. Canadian peacekeepers in Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo-how can this be put delicately-notably less successful in recent years.

Pearson, Lester B.

Nobel prize-winning Canadian diplomat,who almost single-handedly avoided the Suez crisis in 1956. He was a sleep-inducing Prime Minister (1963-68) frequently pissed on by American diplomat, and the main achievement of his tenure was to lead the country into a ludicrous debate over the design and colour of its flag during a period when the U.S. was dismantling our foreign and military policy. On the other side, he was enough of a baseball fan to have been the primary force in getting Montreal a Major League baseball franchise for Expo 67. The fact that the CIA believed Pearson was a communist annoyed him enough that he annointed Pierre Trudeau as his successor, thus giving Canada the only Prime Minister in the 20th Century who had real social democratic ideas and an IQ above the national average.

People’s History, A

The reason why there have been no serious criticisms—or even serious critiques—of CBC lifer Mark Starowicz’s giddy attempt to re-bind the nation without offending any of its minorities is that no one has been able to stay awake through an entire episode. The few critics who have tried have slipped back into their comas mumbling “nice production values”, which is a phrase that probably circumscribes our collective cultural future better than any other.

Perry, Mathew

Star of the television show Friends, but also the son of Pierre Trudeau’s former travelling companion/secretary Susan Perry. It’s unclear if the association with Trudeau elevated the younger Perry in any way, but boy, can this kid lose weight when his career is threatened.

Peter Kent

Kent’s main skill in the past has been to look stern in front a television camera while reading news from a teleprompter in a deep voice.  As Secretary of State or Foreign Affairs, he’ll scare the shit out of other newsmen-turned-politicians around the globe while hiding the fact that his real mission is keeping Peter MacKay and Maxim Bernier from having still more embarrassing foreign affairs.

Pettigrew, Pierre

Federal Minister of International Trade and Canada’s self-anointed philosopher king of corporate globalization. In “The New Politics of Confidence” he posited the greasy argument that globalization will allow the corporate lions to lie peacefully with the lambs–which in his parlance means women, minorities and anyone
under 30 with spikey hair. He was last seen signing free copies of his book in Quebec City behind a ten foot fence and clouds of tear gas.
Outside the fence, his gee whiz techno-doublespeak and affection for hair gel imported from Paris earned him the nickname “Slippery Pete”.

Poetic Justice

In early July in Pamplona, Spain, during the 9-day San Fermin Festival, they run the bulls through the streets of the town for a few mornings. A crowd of human daredevils joins the run. Inevitably a few people get gored by the bulls. A half dozen of the bulls get killed later in the afternoon.

Writer gets gored.

Writer gets gored.

The whole thing is immortalized in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises. (The killing of the bulls is pondered in a later Hemingway book, Death in the Afternoon.)

This year one of the idiots who got gored by a bull was an American writer, Bill Hillmann, 32, from Chicago. He’s the co-author of, you guessed it, Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona. Jeez, the things they make writers do for book publicity these days. Mr. Hillman is reportedly recovering in hospital from his “serious, but not life-threatening wounds.” We wish we could say the same for the bulls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poets

Canada has more published poets per capita than any country in the world, which isn’t surprising given that Canadian poetry as practiced is overwhelmingly writing for people who don’t want to think anything through. Since poetry is a commercially obsolete medium of statement, one could interpret this unabated statistic as a signal that Canada’s publicly funded cultural system has failed to respond to common sense. Canada’s successful poets usually play guitars and other musical instruments, and they’re so easy to find I won’t name them. I’ll offer three poets, relatively unknown outside their communities, who give in to no vulgarities and write as clearly as the age allows: George Stanley, Anne Carson and Robin Blaser. Find them, read them.

Police Unions

Among the many dangerous notions that can arise within a democracy is the idea that people who work within its various regulatory apparatuses are free to exercise political free agency so as to influence—as a group—political, social and cultural outcomes. This idea is particularly dangerous when those declaring free agency carry weapons that ordinary folks are not permitted to own let alone walk around brandishing in plain sight. The recent political activism within Canada’s police unions is therefore a deeply disturbing development. Toronto Police Union head Craig Brommell, who opines that it is acceptable for police departments to promote political candidates and to undertake behind-the-scenes investigations into unfriendly political candidates, is an example of a growing trend within the public service sector that no elected representative appears to have the courage to do much more than whine meekly about. Such people ought to be of the utmost concern to governments supposedly trying to limit the control, ownership or use of weapons and don’t want to see an entire generation of heretofore peaceful, law-abiding citizens arming themselves and turning the country into a refrigerated lookalike of Waco, Texas.

Political Courage

Technically an oxymoron, this term is deployed when politicians want to do bad things to good people, programs, or policies. “We need to find the political courage,” you might hear, “to transform medicare into a private-public hybrid,” or “we need the political courage to privatize the CBC.” One notable exception: the ability to sit through one of George Elliot Clarke’s readings.

Political Parties

Canadian Political parties are too obsessed with raiding one another’s ideological and demographic ground to do the two things they ought to: have some fun, or have a few substantial ideas about the future. Canada’s Liberal party is no longer liberal, the social democratic party isn’t social or democratic, and its Progressive Conservatives, har, har, control the country even though they have the fewest seats in Parliament of any recognized party. Just over a third of parliamentary seats are held by radically deranged representatives from our two main lunatic asylums, Quebec and Western Canada.

Political System

Canada’s devolving political system was once a British-style parliamentary system albeit without the kinky-looking, wig-wearing Lords and Ladies). It is now moving toward a nasty melange of corporate boards of directors, U.S.-style rule-by-lobbies, and a lie-in-the-sun-crawl-under-the-nearest-rock expert systems modeled after the behavior of desert reptiles and the Russian Mafia. Currently, Canada’s governments are primarily supervised by U.S. bond-rating agencies, who are considering assuming direct management so as to guarantee investor confidence. (see investor confidence

Post-Mortem

An ancient ritual performed by a venerable and often stoned priestess, sybil or oracle, usually involving the entrails of a hapless deceased animal, to explain an unexpected event. E.g., the British Columbia provincial election of May 14, 2013. Pollsters, pundits and prophets unanimously predicted that NDP leader Adrian Dix would be elected the next premier of the resource-rich west coast Canadian province, unseating right-of-centre Liberal Party Premier Christy Clark. The pontificating classes had the NDP ahead by as much as 20 points going into the election, and leading by somewhere between 6 and 9 points right up to election day.

Christy Clark, re-elected B.C. premier.

Christy Clark, re-elected B.C. premier.

Instead, Clark won a comfortable majority, taking 50 of 85 seats, pretty much the same result as in the 2009 and 2005 elections. Social Democrats, weeping into their beer and lattes, could take only minor comfort in the small glitch of Clark losing her Vancouver-Point Grey seat to NDP up-and-comer Dave Eby. The NDP again forms the official opposition, with 33 seats. The first elected Green Party MLA and one independent round out the legislative complement. Only about half the eligible voters cast a ballot (again, not much different from previous elections), prompting one wag to quip about the much-vaunted impact of social media on politics, “There were more Tweets than votes.” The Liberals won by a sizeable 5 percentage points, 44 per cent to 39 per cent, just the reverse of the way the pre-election pollsters called it. The pollsters spent the post-mortem dawn tweaking their algorithms.

Meanwhile, the Oracle of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, emerging from a dark lane filled with discarded needles and condoms, explained it all, muttering, as did the winning and losing politicians, “The People, the People. The election belongs to the People.” Maybe the pundits, to echo a famous line by poet Bertolt Brecht, need to elect a new people.

 

 

Post-Partisan Politics

A typical usage of the oxymoronic phrase “post-partisan” politics popped up in the coverage of Justin Trudeau’s ascension to the leadership of the Canadian Liberal Party in April 2013. “The party remains light on policies,” conceded one news report, “leaving Mr. Trudeau with the challenge of translating his personal appeal into a cohesive electoral platform… by the next federal election, scheduled for 2015.” (Daniel LeBlanc, “Newly crowned Trudeau sets out to rebuild the Liberal Party, Globe and Mail, Apr. 14, 2013.)

The campaign team of Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, according to the report’s analyst:

Justin and Pierre Trudeau, in the pre-post-partisan era, c. late 1980s.

Justin and Pierre Trudeau, in the pre-post-partisan era, c. late 1980s.

“has long admired the ability of the likes of Tony Blair and Barack Obama to put their personal touches on a modern way of doing politics, and wanted to create a Canadian version of a broad-based, centrist approach to a grassroots politics. The goal is to transform the Liberal Party… into a movement for the post-partisan age.” Ten Bonus Points to anyone able to make sense of the previous two sentences of political bafflegab.

Post-partisan politics refers to a so-far non-existent utopian era of political stasis in which no one has any new ideas, policies, or intelligence. Values are faded to bland, language is bleached of meaning, and the post-partisan parties remain gridlocked, unable to agree on what to do. Politics is reduced to an adjunct of celebrity culture. At the liberal end of the spectrum, this is called “muddling through”; at the authoritarian end of the spectrum it’s called “North Korea.”

Postal Unions

Labour relations laboratory in which the corporate sector has been experimenting with union-breaking devices for two decades. The result has been the virtual collapse of the Canadian postal system, and it is only a matter of time before Canada’s postal workers become the sort of threat to public safety those in the U.S are

Poutine

French fries, cheese whiz and the chemical sludge found at the bottom of the St. Lawrence river east of Montreal. This piece of authentic Quebec cuisine is the best argument going for kicking Quebec out of Canada on the grounds that Quebec can’t possibly be French.

Powe, Bruce

An overly friendly man and Supermind who began well with a serious book entitled The Solitary Outlaw, Powe might have become McLuhan’s true heir, but now seems more determined to rewrite Pierre Berton’s The Comfortable Pew for the remaining listeners of Morningside and otherwise drown all sense in metaphoric drooling over electronic communications. A big fave of Pierre Trudeau in his dotage, an endorsement which may or may not be a compliment.

The Prairies

A permanently depressed economic region noted for its cultural vitality, derelict wheat fields, radical shifts in government, and a willingness to get drunk and forget about how flat it all is. No, wait. The word “depressed” should read “depressing”

Pratt, Christopher

Hyperrealist painter who manages to be non-figurative at the same time. The artistic equivalent of Otrivin. Related to fellow-painter Mary Pratt, who also causes dry sinuses.

Premiers, Prime Ministers And First Ministers

During periods of sanity, elected provincial leaders call themselves Premiers, leaving the Prime Minister designation to the elected federal leader. In recent years, however, depending on the degree of provincial egomania and hostility, some Premiers have taken to annoying Ottawa by designating themselves Prime Ministers. Ottawa responds by dragooning all the Premiers to Ottawa for time-wasting protocol festivals and transfer payment cutback announcements. During these conferences everyone carefully uses the term First Ministers, although during planning sessions the Premiers and Prime Minister refer to one another as Those Assholes, which is closer to the way voters regard them while they’re playing these silly games.

Prince Edward Island

Former island province, now merely a potato patch at the end of a bridge, and the on-location site for Anne of Green Gables, Canada’s primary cultural export. P.E.I’s campaign to have everyone in the province declared an M.P. or senator has met with partial success only because the young, female Japanese tourists that constitute 40 percent of the island population during the summer don’t yet qualify as citizens.

Prince George

 

Woman has baby. Kid’s named George. No big deal, right?

 Well, this is one of those instances where the internet acronym LOL (laugh out loud) clearly pertains. Very big deal, if the woman is Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and if pops is William, Duke of same, and the baby prince is third in line to the British. throne. (A Facebook friend of ours pointed out that he, too, is third in line to the throne – every morning at his wife and child occupied bathroom.)

No, we will not point out that the whole event, which received wall-to-wall TV coverage for several days in late July 2013, is a ridiculous, anachronistic fantasy world that could only appeal to simple minds. We will not point this out because The People loved every dripping, sentimental minute of it. Nor we will point out that a few billion of said sancrosanct People believe in an even more astonishing fantasy about the divine nature of the universe and the divinity’s immaculately-conceived boy child who sacrificed his life to expiate the sins of selfsame People. We could go on. We won’t. We aren’t party poopers. (We aren’t even diaper poopers.)

Mr. P.G., mascot of Prince George, B.C.

Mr. P.G., mascot of Prince George, B.C.

Equally important, for Canadians at least, is the significance of the royal birth of Prince George to the struggling northern British Columbia city (pop. 75,000) of Prince George, B.C. The city’s tourist bureau spokesperson was positively burbling. “We just heard! That’s awesome. Woo-hoo! It’ll put us on the map,” she coochy-cooed. The mayor of P.G. said, “It’s a chance for us,” and promised to invite the royals, Duke-Duchess-and-eponymous-baby-makes-three, to the city’s 100th birthday in 2015.

The only remaining mystery: for which British royal was P.G. named? The ever-reliable, about-to-be-dismantled Canadian Broadcasting Corp reminds us that the city was originally the fur-trading post of Fort George, established in 1807 by explorer-businessman Simon Fraser, who named it for King George III.

A century later, in 1915, the Grand Trunk Pacific railway laid out a nearby townsite for its railway station, but it’s unclear which Prince George the new city was named after. One guess is that it was named for King George V, crowned in 1911 (only hitch: he wasn’t a prince then). ‘Nother guess: named for G the V’s youngest son, Prince G, not to be confused with older brother who became King G VI in 1937, but who was Prince Albert up to then. Oh, enough.

No mystery about Mr. P.G., the town’s 8-metre mascot statue, erected as a symbol of the forest industry. When first unveiled in 1960 the statue could speak and bow. Like the forest industry, it now stands silently, welcoming visitors to the commercial hub of northern B.C. We admit that the prince definitely inherited Mr. P.G.’s looks.  

Kate, William, and prince P.G.

Kate, William, and prince P.G.

 

Private Heath Insurance

Watch for the proliferation of companies selling this commodity in the next few years. While our governments continue to insist that universal medical care is a basic Canadian right, the individual provinces continue to pare down the number of medical procedures they’re willing to pay for until UMC will cover nothing more than a biannual medical exam to find out if we’re suffering from cholera, yellow fever, beri-beri and whooping cough. Vaccines for these afflictions will be available at Walmart for a nominal charge.

Progressive Conservatives

Oxymoronic Canadian political movement based on the theory that life is best viewed with one nostril up the ass of the current U.S. president and the other up the posterior of the nearest tax accountant-all while genuflecting for the Chartered Banks. Nearly exterminated in the 1993 election, still on life support (or rather, corporate support) after the election in 1997, and may yet be swallowed up by the Reform Party and its successor, CRAP. Joe Clark, with enough fatty tissue to make his chin disappear completely, is its elderly leader.

Publishing Industry

Canada’s publishing industry, nurtured over three decades to relative financial competence by modest government subsidies despite the inherent economy-of-scale disadvantages, is now being asked to suck hard on the tailpipe of GATT and other toxic globalization apparatuses expressly designed to exterminate indigenous cultural instruments. Now, we all know that house cats don’t turn into tigers, but one of the essential tests to see whether Canada deserves to go on being a real country will be whether Canada’s publishers can fight off the subsidy cuts and the playing-field leveling devices of globalization-crazed governments.