Stuff Happens, week 16: Nepal crumbles, Mayweather rumbles, Prentice stumbles

The provincial election is mercifully into its dying days, and the PCs are finally awakening to the fact that they just might actually lose this thing. Jim Prentice has failed miserably to get the public excited about him or his party, as all of the attention has gone to the golden girl, Rachel Notley. On Friday, members of the well-heeled business community in Edmonton weighed in with an unusual press conference, decrying any tax hikes for corporations. Not surprisingly, they are all big Tory supporters, as the Edmonton Journal gleefully wrote in one of its more one-sided stories. If members of the business elite think that a whining press conference about how hard done by they are will divert votes away from the NDP, they are sadly mistaken. Meanwhile, the NDP’s union supporters, who have poured hundreds of thousands into the party for years, have stayed very, very quiet. An NDP win would be a huge win for the public sector unions; if an NDP government sits down across the table to negotiate with a union that kept it alive with massive cash infusions over the years, you’ve got to know that they will be expecting something in return.

The story of the week, and one that is destined to be one of the stories of the year, is the tragedy in Nepal. No mere disaster, the earthquake that struck last week is now a catastrophe of historic proportions, with at least 6,500 dead and counting, countless numbers homeless, and whole towns and cities in ruins.

It must be getting close to the federal election — the Conservatives are ramping up their advertising campaigns. Mind you, there won’t be any overt mentions of the Conservative party, because the new $13 million in TV ads will focus on the federal budget. Mind you again, the budget is a political document, and all of the ads (which, if you watch hockey, will soon drive you crazy) will focus on tax cuts “for hard working Canadians”, etc. No government in our history has been as brazen as the Harper government at spending public money for political purposes. The ads have done the impossible: I now hate the first four notes of the national anthem, which are tagged onto the end of every commercial.

Two fading fighters, good guy Manny Pacquiao and bad guy Floyd Mayweather Jr. faced off in the biggest fight in boxing history (financially, anyway). There hasn’t been this much excitement about boxing since Mike Tyson was in his destructive prime. Mayweather won in a unanimous decision, although Pacquiao — with a payday of some $100 million or so — did pretty well for the loser.

One of my favourite Randy Newman songs is called Baltimore. The refrain goes, “Oh, Baltimore, man it’s hard, just to live.” Baltimore is so bad, it makes the Baltimore portrayed in The Wire look like bucolic small-town America. The city went nuts this week over yet another death of a young black man in police custody. It seems America can’t go a week without another video of yet another black man dying at the hands, or in the custody of, the police. The highlight (if I can use that word) of the Baltimore troubles was this clip of a mother hauling her son out of the riot scene, and vigorously slapping him upside the head. Never before has child abuse been so widely praised.

In England, a woman had a baby girl. For some reason, this is big news.

In First World troubles, the heart rate monitor on the Apple watch apparently doesn’t work if you have a tattoo on your wrist. This is a problem because chances are about 90 per cent that anyone buying an Apple watch also has a wrist tattoo.

RIP: Ben E. King, 76, soul singer best known the all-time classic Stand By Me; he had other hits like Spanish Harlem, There Goes My Baby and This Magic Moment … Jean Nidetch, 91, founder of Weight Watchers … Suzanne Crough, 52, the youngest member (Tracy) of The Partridge Family … Jack Ely, 71, vocalist for the famously indecipherable song Louie Louie … Marcel Pronovost, 84, Hockey Hall of Fame member … Jim Fanning, 87, former manager of the Montreal Expos.

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