John Oliver says goodbye to a terrible year

Well, in the words of John Oliver, Fuck 2016. This has truly been a terrible year, I think this video summarises the feeling of many people this year.

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Trump wins…

Honestly, I don’t know how this happened. I mean I do, but it can’t be real. Mostly I am just glad that I live in Canada and for the time being things are ok. We have a decent Prime minister and he has managed to go one year without majorly screwing up the country.

This just proves that targeting the lowest common denominator can win you an election. This election has been dragged out around the world for more than a year and while this time last year it was still funny to think of trump as president, the reality of this actually happening is grim. Although it’s great to be in Canada and not in the direct line of fire, I am almost certain that we will feel the pain in some way or another. I feel like we are standing on a corner as a car drives past splashing mucky water at the American in front of us while flecks of mud manage to keep going and hit us in the head as well. What really worries me is that the last 8 years of change that the US has seen is about to get almost entirely flushed down the toilet by a misogynistic bigot who has no moral compass whatsoever and Hillary Clinton did not fight hard enough to keep him from doing it. I watched some of the debates that happened and I can see why things went this way, how do you debate with someone who refuses to let you speak? Or a person who will continue to point fingers in the same way a 9-year-old would if they felt they didn’t get their way. I mean really, this is a grown man with grown up (and equally ridiculous) children, how is this acceptable in any circumstance? Let me just suspend disbelief for the moment though and consider what led to this moment.

trump2
Is it sad that the Simpsons predicted this?

From a Canadian standpoint, I would say it comes down to a few key areas. Timing, Economics, Fear mongering, and in the words of Danny Bhoy “the rise of the idiots”. When Obama came into office in 2008 he was taking on a monstrous task involving the general cleanup of the shitshow that was Bush. That combined with the economic recession around the same time leading to a poorer and more disillusioned America. That is no shocker and Obama continued to go on to be reelected four years ago, which is great, he would get a real chance to improve things. But then along came Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump of all people. Both intent on winning, both somewhat unlikeable, but there is a clear difference between the two. Trump should never have made it this far, he trashed the Republican party, he abused democracy and he pushed the limit on what is socially acceptable adult behaviour. And yet, here we are Wednesday, November 9th,2016 a world reeling at the realisation that somehow he got elected.

But hey 2016 has been a ridiculous year for politics. Brexit happened! Yes, it did, and we were in shock. Even those guys who wanted it were shocked when it happened and quickly started to back off as reality set in. A huge part of me hopes Trump faces the same thing sometime in February, and that he sort of disappears from the public eye as he begins to realise that the US does not have a big enough budget for the wall he wants to build. I look forward to some kind of scandal while he is in office, I relish the hope that he will be found guilty of something completely unheard of and awful.

Keep this in mind because it just happened:

“The next wave of fascism will come not with cattle cars and camps. It will come with a friendly face.” – Bertram Gross, “Friendly Fascism”

 

 

Granville

I walk Granville street most days, and over time have gotten familar with who sleeps in which doorway or under what awning. There are couples and singles, lost people, people who didn’t mean to end up there, but they did. I can’t say I know their stories, but I know who is quiet, who to walk past quickly, who I wish I could help and who seems beyond help. Granville is usually less busy, and something about it feels better to me than Burrard or some of the others nearby.

When I walk to work, sometimes I feel like I’m invading their privacy, like I’m peering through their bedroom window. Catching glimpses of their lives. There are couples who sleep in, curled together under sleeping bags. There are the ones who are up already, but still groggily looking at each other. There are those who are already up and cleaning their few belongings, ready to move on.

A dog is curled under one of the sleeping bags, only his head and front paws sticking out. He sleeps peacefully next to his owner who is still fast asleep. There is also a guy with a cat, but I don’t see him often. Being homeless and alone, from everything I can see, is worse than being homeless with a companion.

People have their spots and I see generally the same people every day. Sometimes a new few emerge, and then disappear the next day, missing kid signs pop up (or don’t) and life moves on. I wonder sometimes where they go? Most of the awake homeless residents seem to be cleaning up their sleeping areas there are always those who seem to wander, semi aimlessly like they haven’t actually gone to sleep at all. They walk with a lost and confused look trying to find a fix, maybe they didn’t sleep and maybe they aren’t even homeless but they are always a little unnerving. There is always an agitated sense of desperation that follows and I honestly don’t know how to react, so I generally just don’t.

Was Vancouver always like this? It has certainly had a reputation for a while, but just seems like it can’t get worse. And then somehow it does. The housing market keeps going up, renting becomes unnafordable and those who were clinging on by their last pennies can find themselves homeless. Nothing justifies the cost of living here, weather cannot cause a doubling in housing costs, or at least it shouldn’t. Even so-called “affordable” housing sits well above what many can afford. Why should the poor and lower middle class be pushed out of the city centre? It’s the diversity of the city which gives it life. If everyone is busy just barely getting by, what is left? You find a downtown like Vancouver with the extremes of wealth and poverty living on top of each other. In my opinion this is a recipe for disaster. Maybe not now, but in the near future. Less and less decisions are made based on long term plans, but rather on how to make the most right now. Everyone has fallen victim to it at some point. When my property manager decides to increase the rent on incoming renters by 30% this is a very short sighted approach. Suddenly a crappy building needs to attract people who can afford that, but they  are so often transient and desperate people who will pay anything. In our particular building, many suites around us have been renovated, but only cosmetically. The building is still poorly ventilated, there is mold in some of the suites, windows have not been replaced since the 60s and are still single pane. It’s only a bandaid fix and because those cosmetic changes are done cheaply they will fall apart before anything else. But they don’t care, it’s making some money now, even though these suites take twice as long to rent out. It’s not surprising though since there are other suites in the neighbourhood for less that have had structural upgrades done. Anyways, that’s my two cents and a bit more rambling than necessary.