Monthly Archives: September 2013

I’m Infamous Today (And it Feels Good)

Inequality InfographicWhen I started this blog in January, I promised myself that I would make a serious effort to try and get my opinions published in a major Canadian newspaper at least once this year. It would be an important benchmark for my writing skills if I could actually achieve this goal. It’s not easy to get published in a major newspaper. They receive a lot of content, and have very tough editorial standards. So far, my opinions have appeared in The Globe & Mail four times this year, thanks to being selected as a participant on the 2013 BC Election panel. It certainly boosted my self-confidence when I saw my words appear in print. Like many writers, I sometimes wondered if anyone was really interested in what I had to say.

On Saturday, September 14th, Vancouver Sun columnist Stephen Hume wrote a major one page feature entitled ‘Income Inequality Threatens Society‘. He interviewed Professor Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, and former US secretary of Labour during the Clinton adminstration. Dr. Reich will be speaking at a Public Square event sponsored by Simon Fraser University on October 3 at the Orpheum Theatre here in Vancouver. As I read the column, I identified very much with what Dr. Reich was saying. I decided to write a letter to the editor and express my thoughts about Stephen Hume’s column. It’s always a bit of a crap shoot when you write a letter to the editor; you have absolutely no way of knowing if they’ll decide to publish it. I crafted my words carefully, hoping that perhaps I’d get their attention. On Sunday evening, September 15th, I crossed my fingers and sent the letter by e-mail.

This morning I picked up the Friday edition of the Vancouver Sun on the way to my favourite coffee shop. When I sat down and opened the editorial pages, I was in for a very pleasant surprise:

Widening economic disparity sows social discontent

Re: Income inequality threatens our society, Column, Sept. 14

Stephen Hume’s column on income inequality rings true when it comes to my own life’s circumstances.

I’m the stereotypical white 53-yearold male with a master’s degree in education.

In my working life I never even came close to earning the $91,000 a year that is average for my demographic according to a Statistics Canada report. I can only dream of how awesome it would be to have a salary like that.

My median income for the last five years is way below Statscan’s reported overall white male Canadian average of $49,351.

I went bankrupt in 2009 because I couldn’t find regular employment in the province. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. I applied for more than 230 positions. When you think about it, that’s an insane number of jobs to apply for.

For all my education and experience, I ended up selling retail consumer electronics in a shopping mall at an appallingly low wage that barely kept me going.

Four years later, I’m unemployed again and struggling to survive in this province where I was born.

I feel very resentful toward those who appear to have it all while I have gone without.

Anthony Gurr

Vancouver

Seeing my letter in the editorial section of today’s newspaper was another important validation of my writing skills. People really are interested in what I have to say.

The Grumpy Ferret (Extra! Extra! Read all about it!)

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The Right to Senseless Slaughter – Shall Not be Infringed

Gun CartoonLike everyone else on this planet, yesterday we witnessed yet another mass shooting happen in the United States. Once again, another tormented individual exercised his Second Amendment rights and slaughtered innocent men and women serving their country in a blaze of bullets, confusion, and horror. Once more the world’s media dutifully recorded the flood of anguish, bewilderment, and unspeakable sadness as paramedics, police, and security forces rushed to the scene. Once more we witnessed the hastily arranged press conferences that tried to explain the unexplainable. Once more, the massive vortex of ambiguity and speculation  swirled about who was responsible and what were the motivations. Was it a lone wolf? Was it a terrorist? Was it a co-ordinated attack?

Once more the President of the United States appeared on television to console Americans and assure them that everything would be done to get to the bottom of this. Barack Obama looked like a sad, weary figure at the podium as the press clamoured for details and clarifications. I thought to myself ‘how many times has he had to do this?

There have been six mass shootings in the last nine months,and 20 during the Obama presidency.

I lived in the United States for a total of 6 1/2 years, from 1994 to 2001. I have many good friends there who are decent, intelligent, wonderful people. I miss them very much and I wish I could see them again. Many Americans are decent people who are not extremists, fascists, neo-nazi’s, or overzealous fundmentalist religious types. But for the life of me, I can’t understand how Americans condone the level of gun violence that happens every year in their country. Consider this chilling piece of information. Since the hideous slaughter at Newtown in late 2012, 8, 250 Americans have died from firearms.  It’s shocking beyond all belief. 8,250 dead men, women, and children since Newtown.

There are over 300 MILLION GUNS in circulation in the United States. On September 13th, the largest study done on gun violence in the United States was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

According to the study, every year 31,000 people die from gun violence and 74,000 suffer nonlethal injuries.

How many more innocent people have to die or suffer gruesome injuries in the United States for the convenience of owning a gun? How many more babies in strollers have to be shot in the head point blank? How many more little children have to die accidentally because their parents didn’t put the weapons away? How many more people need to be murdered by bored American teenagers looking for something to do? How many more concealed weapons do Americans need to carry around to make criminals think twice about using a gun? How many more vigilantes do they need to prowl the halls of elementary schools to scare off mass shooters? When a society reaches the point where it actually condones weapons being carried around in elementary schools, I submit that it’s in a state of civil war with itself.

I give my deepest condolences to my American friends, and offer up this meditation from Peter, Paul, and Mary:

How many deaths will it take til’ he knows, that too many people have died?

The Grumpy Ferret (The answer is blowing in the wind)

Sunday Afternoon Rainy Day Matinee’

Simon's Cat copyright Simon Tolfield UK

Simon’s Cat copyright Simon Tolfield UK

It’s a rainy September Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. The skies are a weird colour combination of lead grey and dull white clouds. The breeze is noticeably chilly, and the rain is hissing down loudly. There was even some thunder earlier today. We don’t get too many thunderstorms in southwestern BC; it’s a bit of a spectacle when they actually happen here.  I debated with myself about what kind of post I should write today. God knows there’s plenty of serious stuff I could comment about, but I’m always thinking about the balance I try to keep between serious topics and humourous ones. I don’t want to ignore the things that I think might matter to people. On the other hand, I want the blog to be enjoyable for my readers (Hi Mum!)

Today I’m going to keep things light. I was mucking about on Youtube recently, when I discovered an animated cat video.

Don’t run away! It’s not THAT kind of Youtube cat video!

There’s a British cartoonist named Simon Tolfield who has created some wonderfully clever animated videos called Simon’s Cat. How have I missed this guy? His videos are hilarious and spot-on. He absolutely nails the attitude and behaviours of cats I’m sure we all have known in our lives.

Our next feature for today’s rainy day matinee’ is a delightfully whimsical cartoon created in France by students from the Gobelins School of Graphic Arts. It’s called Pandore, and it’s based on the famous Greek myth of Pandora’s box.

The next feature is Disney’s beautifully poignant telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale The Little Match Girl that he wrote in 1845. It’s such a sad, yet sweet story that I sort of remember from my childhood. It strikes a strong chord in me today because the message in Andersen’s story is still very relevant to all of us in the 21st century. It reminds us all that ‘there but for the Grace of God go I‘. We must all do what we can for those who are desperately in need.

Speaking of the 21st century, our final feature for today’s matinee’ is a very clever cartoon called ‘Glued‘, created in 2012 by Israeli animation students from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I think this piece speaks volumes about our obsession with technology.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Sunday afternoon matinee’. I thought it might be appropriate on a rainy September weekend 🙂

The Grumpy Ferret (Hey! Who ate all the popcorn?)