Syndicate content


Jane Austen’s Guide to Social Media
In honour of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice this year, the Jane Austen industry has been working at full capacity delivering tomes of Austenian advice on every conceivable subject but the obvious one: Jane Austen’s Guide to Social Media.
Swerve magazine
19 Jun 2013
In the Name of the Rose and the Olive

In the Name of the Rose and the Olive

Swerve magazine 31 Jan 2013
Peddling God to Schoolkids? Pay up, Christian Soldier

Not so hasty. That's the advice I'd give the Chilliwack school board, which appears to be on the verge of ordering an about face for the Christian soldiers distributing Gideon Bibles in public schools.

The school board will be reconsidering its Bible giveaway scheme at a meeting tonight due to a somewhat tardy review of the B.C. School Act, which states schools must be "strictly secular and nonsectarian."

The Tyee 13 Nov 2012
Why Old Media fear the Wente story

The Globe and Mail experienced the wrong end of a revolution over the weekend. The Twitterati stormed the Bastille because of the paper's refusal to acknowledge a blogger's claims that columnist Margaret Wente was plagiarizing some of her screeds.

The story is still unfolding, but it appears the rebels have won. As this piece went to bed, The Globe's editor-in-chief, John Stackhouse, took a shot at damage control by announcing that Wente would be disciplined.

The Tyee 25 Sep 2012
Let's Play Aristocrat!

As I opened the fat, creamy envelope containing an excessively artful black-and-white photo of a mid-30s couple capering in a field, I felt that faint queasiness that tends to arrive in April and doesn’t quite recede until late September. Call it the wedding flu.

Swerve magazine 17 Jul 2012
Of dust and lust


I used to dread the arrival of spring as the only season to which the word “cleaning” had been attached—until I learned about the erotic implications of not doing housework. Apparently, there’s lust in that dust.You doubt me? You need only look at the fifth-season opener of Mad Men, which featured Don being seduced by the new Mrs. Draper as she began to tidy a filthy post-party living room in naught but her black scanties (at right). Within seconds they’re rolling around on the muck-encrusted white broadloom, all thoughts of virtuous order forgotten.

Mad Men often taps into taboos and this was a perfect salute to spring, not least because it was a relief from the relentless parade of magazine articles, TV shows and merchants campaigning for the war on filth. They remind me of evangelists, and not just because they have the cheery zeal of the devout. Religion’s enthusiasts have long connected cleanliness with moral purity, and both the Puritans and the 18th-century Methodist preacher John Wesley have been credited with some variation on the slogan, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

“Around here, it’s next to impossible,” my mother used to snap, pointedly, at my adolescent self as she collected the heaps of clutter strewn in my wake. A promiscuous reader, I delighted in quoting Quentin Crisp’s view on housework to her: “The dust doesn’t get any deeper after the first four years.” But it wasn’t until I was older that I realized that Crisp, author of The Naked Civil Servant, wasn’t merely being witty; his indifference to polishing floors hints at what he was willing to polish to a gleam.
That cleanliness and morality are deeply intertwined in modern life is revealed by the way we talk about dirt as a character failing. We sneer at the filthy rich. We’re advised against washing our dirty laundry in public. And we enthuse over “good, clean fun,” as if we need to distinguish it from the usual dirty kind. The kind the Drapers are having.

Of course, once we’ve established something as virtuous or sacred, it’s never long before someone gets off on defiling it. Trust the Victorians, history’s most prodigious pornographers, to find the kink in a dish-choked sink. Infamous housemaid Hannah Cullwick gave new meaning to getting down and dirty when the diary of her mopping exploits surfaced in the 1950s. All through the 1860s and ’70s she sent saucy letters about her way with a feather duster to a wealthy gent named Arthur Munby, whom she eventually married. Cullwick wiped chimney grates and buffed floors in the buff, and then regaled her upper-class lover with the details. When she visited Munby, she smeared her face with grease and soot as a seductive alternative to conventional lotions. You might think this is an isolated case of repressed Victorian weirdness but, judging by British slang, I suspect not. The point at which sex and housekeeping collide was brought home to me in my youth when a friend’s English mother dropped by, saw the state of her apartment and declared, “Oh Rosie, you are such a slut!” 

Swerve magazine 23 Mar 2012
Occupiers, big media wants your help!

In a sea of inept coverage on the Occupy Wall Street protests I have to give the Vancouver Sun credit for making me laugh out loud with this tweet: "Going to #occupyvancouver? Help us cover it. Send updates, photos, video to..."

So let me get this straight: a corporate media monopoly that is a cause of many of the problems under protest is trying to exploit people further by getting them to provide free content on which it profits?

Well, I guess you have to admire the chutzpah.

The Tyee 25 Oct 2011
Little literacy program has big impact

While it might be bad for the business of the criminal defence lawyers he left behind, Andy Berna has been devoting some of his retirement to teaching Kamloops kids to read. 

2010 Legacies Now 1 Dec 2009
Weathering tough markets

Screaming headlines proclaiming stock market meltdowns, bank failures, and job losses  leave even the most confident investors feeling shell-shocked. For small investors whose primary concern is financing retirement the current onslaught of bad news, delivered in hysterical tones, often induces unnecessary fear.

Central 1 Credit Union website 2 Feb 2009
Cyber self-defense skills

Surfing such popular social networking sites Facebook and MySpace requires using a few cyber self-defense skills.

Central 1 Credit Union website 1 Dec 2008
Going for broker

They say opposites attract, but in the financial world it might be better to say that opposites complement. While you couldn’t find two more disparate businesses than banking and insurance – one is about managing the margins, while the other is a fee-for-service -- the combination is a natural fit for credit unions looking to ensure the bottom line.

Enterprise magazine 1 Sep 2008
Till Death do you part?

America’s loose-lending habits have caused a credit crisis down south but for cautious Canadian lenders long-term mortgages aren’t about getting the fiscally risky into the housing market but giving preferred borrowers more flexibility.

Enterprise magazine 1 Sep 2008
B.C. Credit Unions insure entire deposit

Banking with B.C.’s credit unions became even safer with new legislation that guarantees member deposits are insured for the entire amount. As of November 27 2008, members at B.C.’s credit unions are insured for the maximum amount of their deposits, including any accrued interest. By contrast, customers at commercial banks are insured to a maximum of $100,000.

Central 1 Credit Union website 3 Mar 2008
Face it -- 'reading' people's features is a mug's game

VANCOUVER — Mark Ainley is giving the expression “taking it at face value” a whole new meaning.The Vancouver man teaches workshops on how to divine someone's character, intelligence and values by his or her visage: People with higher eyebrows are reserved. Low eyebrows signal someone outgoing. Upturned noses suggest gullibility; downward pointing noses imply a critical temperament.

The Globe And Mail 8 Jul 2006
Working through Wikipedia's vanity fair

VANCOUVER — For anyone steeped in old-media thinking, evidence that the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia is an unreliable source can be found in a Vancouver publisher's entry about himself.

Kevin Potvin writes and publishes a weekly print tabloid called The Republic of East Vancouver, full of inflammatory opinion pieces reminiscent of the ideological rants of 18th-century pamphleteers. It claims a circulation of 6,000. Yet, according to Wikipedia, Mr. Potvin is a colossus.

The Globe And Mail 5 Jun 2006
The return of God

Some say religion has no place in science. Proponents of theories like intelligent design are trying to negotiate a reconciliation.

On paper, the curiously named Centre for Cultural Renewal exists "to explain the importance of religions to culture and the importance of culture to religions".

The Georgia Straight 19 May 2005
Duelling Rights

This city's best-known women's shelter appears to be surprisingly devoid of drama, at least outside of the law courts. 

Vancouver Rape Relief Society's solid prewar house, nestled in a never-disclosed neighbourhood, is warm and welcoming. The floors have the glow of wood well-buffed by thousands of socks, the rooms are clean and bright, and the furniture, although simple hand-me-downs, has been carefully chosen for solidity and comfort. 

The Georgia Straight 3 Feb 2005
Making decorating virtue of tight funds

If the phrase decorating on a budget conjures horrifying images of glue guns, marabou lampshades, and fake wood grain, you've been watching too much Trading Spaces.

The techniques shown on those guerrilla decorating shows--the ones that use ordinary objects like cardboard and seashells to inflict maximum damage on victims' homes--have given budget decorating a bad name.

The Georgia Straight 18 Nov 2004
Massive Change Is About Designing the World
Massive Change, the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition opening Saturday (October 2), is more likely to appeal to science-fiction writers, social activists, and environmentalists than those interested in making the world pretty.
The show is subtitled The Future of Global Design, so don't expect cunningly fashioned can openers or stylish tiles.
The Georgia Straight 30 Sep 2004
A celebration of dance

Next week the dance cognoscenti will be descending on Ottawa, as they do every two years for the Canada Dance Festival.

With 400 dancers and a cadre of international producers swarming the National Arts Centre, chatter downtown will turn to discussions of who has great lines, who is likely to hit the boards internationally, and who is the next hot thing.

Ottawa Citizen 3 Jun 2000