Monday, February 25, 2013

The Death of Albino Rhino

Who killed the Albino Rhino? Or more precisely, what caused Earls restaurant to rename its iconic brand of beer it had been selling for the past 25 years? Apparently, Ikponwosa Ero, a 31-year-old immigrant with albinism from Nigeria living in Vancouver stated that offering a beverage named "Albino Rhino" was offensive to her and no different than selling an "Alzheimer's appetizer" or "Down syndrome daiquiri". Except for the glaring difference that the beer is named after the rare animal (it even has one on the label), not after a human condition.

After trying to persuade Earls to change the name through informal discourse got her nowhere, Ero filed a complaint with the malevolent makework project known as the British Columbian Human Rights Commission. Not looking for a protracted, costly legal battle, the popular Canadian restaurant changed the name of the pale ale to simply "Rhino".

I can't say that I know any albinos -- the rare condition affects only 1 in every 20 000 -- but I have read several blogs from those with albinism praising the change.

Most seemed to try and counter the conservative chorus of disapproval on the name change by detailing how much abuse, ridicule, and discrimination albinos go through. I'm sure all of this is true. I won't doubt it for a second, but how is this beer name responsible for that? And how is forcing the name change going to make these problems go away? You cannot politically correct ignorance.

Some others took the time to explain that "boycotts" of Earls would not work because so few people are affected with albinism that a protest would lack "critical mass". Of course, that's only true if you're unable to attract any sympathizers from the rest of the population, which should be easy if others agreed with it. Evidently, that's not the case here, so what's that say?

A few even pointed out that albinos in Africa are targets of "ritualistic murder". Terrible indeed, so maybe your course of action to bring about change should be focused there?

We're beyond the point of no return when one offended person can force a business to spend tens of thousands of dollars opposing a measure designed to bring about a change that the overwhelming majority disagrees with. I'm sure the days are numbered for horticulturalists selling dwarf spruce trees, executors of blind trusts, and directors presiding over midget hockey. And Christmas? Give up on that illusion. It won't stand a chance.

More than a brand of beer died when Earls changed a name. We've fallen into a pit of quicksand by trying to appease anyone who has ever been offended; it's choking us now.

May we rest in peace.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"...the lamp of the wicked..."

It's not every day that a Pope resigns. In fact, it hasn't happened in 600 years. So you'd think the resignation of the leader of a religion with over a billion adherents would be a big deal. Not really. It was big news for a day and then the world turned the page. Perhaps that's a loud statement about His Holiness's relevance is this day and age.

I'm sure presiding over that cesspool of corruption was never an easy job, but in 2013 you'd need more than a blind eye and a strong stomach to get through your day as "papa". Money laundering, financial corruption, systemic cover-ups of sexual abuse would have all been in a day's work down at Vatican central. This compounded by his unwavering attitude towards dogma on matters such as contraception, homosexuality, divorce, celibacy of priests, and abortion would never have lent itself to a successful papacy.

Citing old age and frailty as reasons for resigning was just another papal ploy; he resigned before God fired him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Grammys Go Granny

So the morality police at CBS's Standards and Practices department issued an edict to all attendees at last night's Grammy Awards outlining what they deemed as unacceptable garb:

"Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could  possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible puffy bare skin exposure."

Buttock crack? Puffy genital region? I'm wondering how many nominees even know what the advisory is referring to.  Sorry CBS, but after 40 years you can't put that genie back in the bottle. And if you wanted to try, surely you could have gotten someone other than my grade 10 health-ed teacher to write the memo.

Jewel's areolas of Grammys past

Will any artist heed the warning or was it part of a CBS ingenious master plan to create such a backlash that this year's show had too much eye candy for the curious to resist? After all, it's not like recording artists are generally regarded as the types to toe the line on morality. If CBS really wanted to censor provocative wardrobes, they could simply just not air the attention whores who show up wearing meat dresses, Saran wrap, and pasties. Or those who may be offended by observing stars' naughty bits could just choose not to watch. Of course, this will never happen because breasts and buttocks may be the main reason for tuning in for a great number of viewers.

I'm willing to bet good money that the amount of flesh exposed by an "artist" at the Grammys nowadays is indirectly proportional to the amount of talent the artist has. The class acts never have to rely on shock to extend their 15 minutes of fame and those who do are just grasping on their way to irrelevance, not unlike the awards ceremony itself.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Retirement Plan #15: Off-ramp Panhandling

You'd have to be either desperate or crazy to beg idling motorists for loose change on a cold February day in this climate, right? Ya, crazy like a fox, maybe.

The phenomenon of off-ramp panhandling has steadily grown over the last few years to the point where it's a pervasive annoyance in all urban centers across North America. The protocol is fairly standard. Unlike street corners, off-ramps present captive audiences. While motorists idle there, they can't cross the street to get away, back up, turn around, change direction, or pretend not to notice. Like a fender-bender, the guy with the "Single dad. Outta work. Kids hungry" sign scribbled on a scrap of cardboard will always command your attention.
"There's a sucker born every minute." Some are cleverly disguised as donors, though.

While I'd never dole out any change that happened to be bouncing around on the floorboards and had my suspicions, I gave the off-ramp panhandlers the benefit of the doubt.  They looked "needy" enough and they weren't squeegee kids with $300 sneakers.  Hell, some even had the ratty knapsack and sleeping mangy dog as part their accoutrements. Throw in a spelling mistake on a weathered sign for good measure and Charles Dickens couldn't have crafted a better character.  My suspicions were confirmed last month when I observed a formal "shift change" at a busy off-ramp. The two "beggars" smiled and appeared to exchange pleasantries (or maybe they were discussing their stock portfolios), one packed up to depart, but not before he gave his ratty cardboard sign to his successor.

This is nothing more than a racket. These aren't random crackheads looking for a few bucks for a fix. It's a well-orchestrated scam that has ostensibly pushed many a motorist's sympathy button. After the "shift change" incident, I began paying closer attention. At a typical off-ramp with 8 or 9 cars ahead of me waiting for the light to change, three motorists made a donation.  Assuming that amounted to a couple of bucks and the scenario repeats itself every 90 seconds, that's $80/hour...TAX FREE!!!  Are you starting to rethink your "nine-to-five" gig? For that kinda scratch, who could blame ya?

Of course, these guys are working without benefits, but I wonder who would "benefit" if my car should careen off the ramp after encountering some ice and slam into one of these poor souls. I'm sure it wouldn't be me.

Apparently, there are several motorists who do contribute to off-ramp panhandlers' pension funds. I guess these contributions make the donor feel good and that's a nice, noble ideal. The problem of course is that there are charities in your community that could really use your loose change. Stick to those when feeling philanthropic. In the meantime, if you must bestow a handout upon a hungry-looking off-ramp panhandler, canned goods have a long shelf life.