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The saga of Ballet British Columbia’s internal woes has taken on the look of a soap opera in recent months. Gossip, rumour, charges, counter-charges and regular revelations by reporters have company members referring to BBC by the sobriquet, “As the Ballet Turns.” 

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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.
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. - Read more

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. 

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In the Name of the Rose and the Olive

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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.
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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.
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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."
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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.

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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!” 


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