1: THE PIRATE
I live in an apartment a couple doors down from a very interesting (in every sense of the word) bar called Zemra Lounge. That place gets its ‘interesting’ character directly from its owner: a Croatian pirate. If he’s not actually a pirate, that’s only because the opportunity’s never come up for him. But he embodies all the finest character traits of a pirate (a storybook pirate a la Captain Blood, which is very different from currently-in-vogue Somali pirate type). Qualities:
Complete disregard for authoritarian morality (and any other type of morality); an enormous ego; a suave faux-aristocratic bearing, balanced by frequent episodes of alcoholic depression; …and, most importantly, incredible adaptability and resource in difficult situations. All he’s missing is a parrot and eye patch. But I’m pretty sure he has the requisite sabre and pistol stashed behind the bar.
And this is why, while businesses have been dropping like flies in saki along this street during the past year – which included both the ‘global economic crisis’ and the greatest streetcar track reconstruction fiasco ever attempted by mankind – the Zemra Lounge has thrived.
Our pirate transformed what was a hangout for the upper crust of the local Gino population into an event centre: Music! Magic Acts! Wine Tastings! Birthday Parties! Corporate Events! They all walk the plank at Zemra.
The man’s brilliant and cunning – I admire him. And he’s also a very nice guy. I run into him on the street all the time, typically finding him in furtive conversation with a shady-looking dude parked in a SUV in front of the bar. When he sees me he always breaks off the conversation to pass the time of day and ask how Madeline and Gus are doing, like Robert Frost:
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
This character sketch has gone on way too far. The point is: he’s started hosting events lately. And today it was a Green Party of Canada local meeting.
the Zemra Bar and Pirate Lair
2: THE PARTY
As I walked by Zemra Lounge last night a great crowd of hippies, dotted with shiny suits and pinkshirt businessmen, were milling in and around the place. And at each corner of the patio a dissolute-and-untoothed fellow (members of the fanatical paramilitary wing of the Party) – was stationed, handing out bright blue and green pamphlets.
At this point let me take a moment to make myself absolutely clear: not only do I appreciate the Green Party of Canada; not only am I personally committed to their fundamental platform (they hate cars, I hate cars. In fact, I absolutely equate owning a car to hiring a private army of mercenaries – I’ll have more to say about that in a future post); but also I’m in fact a Green Party member. Because hating cars is the only political policy I actually care about at all.
So the remainder of this post isn’t a condemnation of the Green Party. I like the Green Party. It’s a critique of this particular pamphlet, and a general sigh of disappointment that the Green Party would adopt such tactics.
Anyway, I like the Green Party. So when the nearest toothless shock trooper surged up at me waving his pamphlets I smiled sympathetically and thanked him for the pamphlet. But I was disturbed when he mumbled:
“dontgivethemanymoremoneyfor Nuclear. SendSmithermanthisPostard (pointing at pamphlet) becausehe’ll… Raise… Your… Taxes.”
Huh? This was a really bizarre statement.
Because one of the things I’ve always liked about the Green Party is their forthright willingness to promote policies that would inevitably raise people’s taxes: Because it costs money to invest in progressive infrastructure and they think it’s worth it in the long term. And, being a member of the Artists’ Union (Local 69: Self-Employed People Who Lie About Their Income To Avoid Paying Taxes While Scamming The Government For Grants), I consider this policy to be directly in line with my financial interests.
So I was confused. And troubled in my soul: if the Green Party has started using that sort of language, they must be up to no good. So I went home and read the pamphlet.
And it was just as I’d feared: not only was this pamphlet an incomprehensible series of inarticulate statements; not only does it painstakingly avoid making a clear point; not only is it an insult to intelligence and reason (all pamphlets from all Canadian political parties are like this)… it was also COMPLETELY FULL OF LIES!!!
It’s sad to see the Green Party sinking to the level of Canada’s other major political parties, whose candidates go door-to-door before each election attempting to bribe their constituents with wheelbarrows full of steaming fertilizer for their gardens.
3: THE PROPAGANDA
This is supposed to be a comparative chart of what different Sources of Energy cost. Notice that it’s titled “The cost of power per kilowatt hour”. Let’s look at the four “rates” of power listed here:
i. efficiency and conservation costs 3¢ per kilowatt hour. Think about that for a second… does it make sense? No – it does not! Conservation and efficiency are not sources of energy! You cannot buy kilowatts of efficiency! And conservation is, by definition, an approach that co-exists with actual sources of energy and modifies their usage and cost. So this number means absolutely nothing. It’s made up.
ii. combined heat and power costs 6¢ per kilowatt hour. Is “combined heat and power” a source of power? No, it is not. “Combined heat and power” describes the rationale behind electricity: to provide heat and power appliances. It does not cost 6¢ per hour – it costs whatever the market rate happens to be. This statistic is also made up. It also means nothing.
iii. renewable power (wind and water) costs 9-13¢ per kilowatt hour. This figure may be legitimate… oh, wait… it’s actually just a set up for:
iv. New Nuclear (21¢ per kilowatt hour). Twice the price of renewable power! But notice the word ‘New’ in front of ‘Nuclear’… this cost includes the price of BUILDING A BRAND NEW NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. Fair enough, if the ‘Renewable Power’ includes the cost of building new wind and water power-generation facilities. But notice the absence of the word ‘New’ from the front of ‘Renewable Power’. A-ha.
What they’re comparing here is the cost of getting power from a pre-existing wind turbine to your house with the cost of BUILDING A BRAND NEW NUCLEAR POWER PLANT + the cost of getting power from it to your place. They’re not comparing the cost of pre-existing nuclear vs. pre-existing green power. And they’re not comparing the cost of new nuclear facilities vs. new green facilities.
So this chart is all about the manipulation of mostly made-up numbers to create the illusion of a price comparison.
That chart was the most awful bit of the pamphlet. But here’s something else that seems, at first glance, to make sense; but if you’re fooled the first time read it again and you’ll be struck by its Escher Stairway-to-Infinity quality:
Way to go Green Party of Canada! You’re ready to play in the big leagues now!