Monday, September 02, 2019

With A Rebel Yelp.


Apparently, Mr. Scheer is mad as hell-in-a-handbasket and he's not going to take it anymore:

The thing is...

This, as Mr. Scheer's faux outrage slyly points out for plausible non-denial denial purposes (if needed), is completely contrived.


Because this came up back in June of this year and it was shot down, squarely, by no friend of post-modern Laurierism, John Ivison in the National Post:

...On Monday several U.K. newspapers reported that ....(a convicted child killer and pedophile)... is preparing for a new life in either Canada, New Zealand or Australia, and that the cost and complication of creating new identities for the child killer was a factor in the decision to relocate him abroad.

Privacy regulations prevent the Canadian government from commenting on the specific case but a statement issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said that people who have been found to have committed a crime elsewhere may not be admissible to Canada.

Privately, an official made clear that one of Britain’s most reviled criminals is not coming to Canada. “The reality is he (Venables) won’t get into the country. At the end of the day, protecting citizens of our country is the foremost thing. He represents a threat to national security,” said the official.

A formal application has not been received by the government but the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act stipulates that foreign nationals are inadmissible in cases of serious criminality...


Why would Mr. Scheer knowingly seize upon something he knows is reverse-effluxed codswallop flung from the prow of the promedia garbage scow known as the Daily Mail that is, in this case at least, manufactured from the brain dead bleatings of a notorious gossip schooner called the Daily Star?

Because, in my opinion at least, it would appear that the fine folks running Mr. Scheer's campaign have made the carefully considered calculation that the time has come to go full metal Bannon on Canadians.

This is not a good thing from the minds behind the man who has a decent chance of actually becoming our next prime minister.

And, regarding the header....Look who went first.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Wonder Of The Ones.


When I'm playing with the old guys we like to cover one hit wonders.

Sometimes sans the hits, but just about always straight ahead, four-on-the-floor type stuff.

Or, when needed, punked up and, preferably, ska-ified.

All of which means it can be tough to get them to do anything even slightly folk-tinged but somehow I managed to get them to agree to do that old Violent Femmes tune 'Blister In The Sun'.


A couple of weeks ago after catching a fantastic live performance on the KEXP live session by a group of young kids who call themselves 'Boy Genius', I went down the rabbit hole listening to and checking out the backstory of the budding super group's various members.

And I came across the following in an LA Times profile of Phoebe Bridgers from a couple of years ago:

...In February she heads out on a headlining U.S. tour — a definite step up from the opening slots she played over the last couple of years with the likes of the War on Drugs and the Violent Femmes.

The latter trek was especially rough, she admits.

“They were so cool, but I forgot they have a radio hit,” she says, referring to the folk-punk trio’s early-’80s staple “Blister in the Sun.”

“That’s what drunk moms in Montana came to hear, and they don’t care at all about who’s on before — or about any other Violent Femmes songs, for that matter.”...

As for my own stripped-downiest version of the tune in question?

Well, I'm not sure Drunk Mom's anywhere, including those who hail from in Missoula in Big Sky country, would be clamouring for, or even requesting, it.

But what the heckfire!

Here goes....


Friday, August 30, 2019

What's In A Number?


From the good folks at the MoCo...


This morning when I rode across town towards the place where I work out on the pointy bit of grey at the far western edge of Lotusland I noticed that regular had been jacked to $1.52 per litre at the two stations at the corner of Oak and King Edward.

Then, when I rode back while chasing the returning crows early this evening the same stations were selling the same product for $1.39.

Explain that!


Thursday, August 29, 2019

All Their Bathtubs 'R Them.


"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years," he says, "to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."


The BC Liberal Party seems to think they might get some traction with their latest smear if they appeal to their better angels.....errrr....influencers:

But here's the thing.

Even the Dean of the Legislative Press Gallery, the VSun's Mr. Vaughn Palmer, was able to call this one, straight-up, with no cynical 'both-sides' shading three years ago:

...(The BC Liberal government) ordered ICBC to begin accumulating substantial capital reserves as part of the effort to “level the playing field” with private insurers. But by late in the decade the reserves had generated huge surpluses, raising a debate about what to do with the money.

The ICBC board recommended giving it back to the customers. The surplus existed because they’d paid, or rather overpaid, for their auto insurance. So the board said the money should be returned in a one-time rebate, pro-rated to folks with the best driving records.

The Liberals greeted this recommendation with only slightly less contempt than if the board had suggested flushing the cash down the toilet in the executive suite.

Give the money back? To the public? Were they nuts?

Enter the ICBC dividend, accounting euphemism for the cabinet orders that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars out of the ICBC accounts and deposited them into the provincial treasury. At a time of economic retrenchment, the money helped pay for programs and reduce the operating deficit.

Then came another money transfer, no less politically expedient than the first, which saw funds diverted from the optional reserves to hold down rates for basic insurance. The combined tab for these two accounting dodges is $2.6 billion and counting...


One can only wonder...

If this one fails, will the braintrust backing the good Mr. Wilkinson decide to blame Joy McPhail for facilitating the sale of BC Rail by failing to file an FOI request?


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Are Green Eggs Now Ham?

...Or, perhaps, artificially orange-coloured spam?

Strange days indeed.

In this case, today's earworm is actually apropos of....Everything.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Extremism Is Our True (Non-Microbial) Scourge.


There is a legislative movement afoot in California to close a loophole that allows folks to shield their kids from public school vaccinations due to dubious medical exemptions.

Given that that state currently has a reality-based assembly and senate the bill will soon likely end up on the governor's desk for signing.

All of which has the more extreme anti-vaccination folks whipped into a frenzy.

Hannah Wiley has that story in the Sacramento Bee:

...Now, as lawmakers head into the final weeks of this year’s legislative session, anti-vaccine advocates are turning to an out-of-state political operative known for provocative campaigns in a last-ditch effort to undermine a bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom has already indicated he’d sign.

The consultant, Jonathan Lockwood of Oregon, charges that California leaders are ready to “sacrifice children” by compelling more kids to get vaccines through Senate Bill 276.

“Any lawmaker who votes yes on SB 276 will have blood on their hands. It’s up to each of them to decide if they will be accessories to the real human cost of this lethal legislation,” wrote Lockwood. “How much is a life worth? Will lawmakers sacrifice children for political purposes or will they acknowledge and act according to the truth?...


...“I was instrumental in defeating the bill as a spokesperson in the Capitol by day, and strategist by night,” Lockwood said.

The vaccine debate in California has also been among the most heated this year. Hundreds of people have packed committee hearings on the bill.

It inspired Twitter battles between actor Rob Schneider and SB 276 co-author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and prompted celebrity activism on both sides of the aisle.

Bricks were mailed to lawmakers on committees considering the measure, including Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento. His office said about 40 bricks carried messages like “Vote No on SB 276.”

“Legislation should not be shaped by people bullying and intimidating, or threatening your representative’s life and family,” argued (state senator Richard) Pan, who said he’s received death threats. “We can have disagreements, that’s fine. How do we resolve that? Through the political process defined by our constitution and the laws we created.”...

And that has surgeon/scientist 'Orac', who, in my opinion, writes an excellent blog that pushes back against quackery and pseudoscience, worried:

...I can’t help but point out that I’m more worried this time. I’ve discussed the violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement on more than one occasion. Now, death threats are nothing new. Paul Offit, for instance, has been getting them for a long time. I’ve even gotten the occasional one. I do fell, however, that it’s getting worse. When you have people out their like Del Bigtree saying “now’s the time” for guns and exhorting antivaxers to fight and die for freedom and antivaxers cosplaying a violent fictional terrorist, you have to wonder whether it’s a matter of when, not if, an antivaxer acts on the increasingly intense rhetoric. Sure, the leaders turning up the heat on the rhetoric are never going to actually take up arms, but antivaxers listening to them might...

Very worrisome, indeed.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Is There Anything More Melancholy Than...


...An Em chord played off the Key of C in the dying, end of summer red sky night?

Hit me like a ton of bricks as I was going through the progression for this tune while walking down the alley with the Whackadoodle before bedtime:

The Whackadoodle turned 11 this summer and she's in tough with a congenital heart valve condition that has worsened over the last six months or so...It's causing fluid to back up in her lungs. She still likes to run the beach on Saturday mornings though...Just takes her most of the rest of the weekend to recover...


Cover Thee...

Putting these here because a few mobile readers who can't see the sidebar asked...


Friday, August 23, 2019

HST Friday...Requiem For A Koch Bro.


From the latest in a long line of posts on the subject of climate at the very fine Fraser Institute website by Patrick Murphy dated August 16, 2019:

...(A)s Canada’s political parties rollout their climate plans for the federal election in October, I’m here to report to Canadians that many of the extreme policy ideas you’re hearing will do more harm than the climate change they are meant to prevent.

For example, consider the popular idea of limiting cumulative global warming to (at most) two degrees Celsius or (if possible) 1.5 degrees Celsius. These targets have become so mainstream that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report last fall advising governments on various policies that could give humanity a shot at hitting the 1.5 degree target.

But according to the most reputable work on the topic, achieving that target would cause far more harm than benefit...


One of the world's most wealthy and vocal climate change deniers, Mr. David Koch, died today.

Ryan Cooper explains how hard Mr. Koch worked to get the great unwashed to ignore the climate thing in The Week:

David Koch, one of the two infamous billionaire Koch brothers, died Friday at the age of 79. The Wall Street Journal is quick to point out that, in addition funding a vast conservative political network, Koch gave about $1.3 billion of his nearly-$60 billion fortune to various philanthropies. But what Koch may ultimately be most remembered for is helping to seed the climate-change denial movement in the 1990s. Indeed, David Koch was one of the most powerful people in the world over the last three or so decades, and he did his level best to stymie any effort to stop the biggest threat to human society.

The Kochs' place in funding climate denial is covered well in the recent book Kochland by Christopher Leonard. They were big funders of a key 1991 Cato Institute conference, which mobilized furiously after President George H.W. Bush announced he would support a climate change treaty. They went on to spend gargantuan sums boosting up the handful of credentialed scientists who deny climate change, funding climate-denying "think tanks" and publications, donating to climate-denying politicians (and refusing money to those who don't), and so on...

And it turns out that Mr. Koch and his brother did not just give money to American think tanks of a certain bent.

Beth Hong had that story in the (then) Vancouver Observer way back in 2012:

"The Fraser Institute, Canada's leading right-wing think tank, received over $4.3 million in the last decade from eight major American foundations including the most powerful players in oil and pharmaceuticals, The Vancouver Observer has learned.

In May, it was found that the US oil billionaire Koch brothers gave the Fraser Institute half a million dollars since 2007..."

And, as of this year, DeSmog Blog and Greenpeace estimate that the new number is approaching $1.5 million.


Why, exactly, do the super wealthy go out of their way to fund super fine institutes that, in my opinion, often do their level best to get the serfs to ignore reality such that said serfs can then be convinced to act in their own worst interests?


I think the good Docktor may have figured out the mind state of such folks and their relationship to the serfs who live 'beneath them' while travelling through South America a long, long time ago, in 1963.

Back then Hunter Thompson toiled not for Jann Wenner but instead for a very different National Observer than the one we know today:

"...One of my most vivid memories of South America is that of a man with a golf club - a five-iron, if memory serves - driving golf balls off a penthouse terrace in Cali, Columbia. He was a tall Britisher, and had what the British call 'a stylish pot' instead of a waistline. Beside him on a small patio table was a long gin-and-tonic, which he refilled from time to time at the nearby bar.

He had a good swing, and each of his shots carried low and long out over the city. Where they fell, neither he nor anyone else on the terrrace that day had the vaguest idea.....Somewhere below us, in the narrow streets that are lined by the white adobe blockhouses of the urban peasantry, a strange hail was rattling down on the roofs - golf balls, 'old practice duds,' so the Britisher told me, that were 'hardly worth driving away'...


Weirdly, the version of the 'National Observer' that the young Mr. Thompson worked for did/does not employ Sandy Garossino....Ironically, HST's NatO was owned by the then parent company of the now Koch friendly Wall Street Journal, the Dow Jones & Company...Imagine that!
Back when I was a young trouble(ish) maker, my friends and I invented a slightly gonzoish pursuit called 'punk golf'. The goal was not to get the ball in the hole with the fewest number of strokes. Instead, the idea was to get it the thing down in the least amount of time... There was no waiting around for the guy who was away to hit first...It was all running, swinging and ducking for cover all of which made for a whole lot of divot making...For the record, we never played it on the declasse public course where we were junior members for 50 bucks a year if you get my drift...And, ya, you read that $50 number right...
Photo at the top of the post is from a most entertaining piece by Terry McDonnell in Esquire about playing golf with Thompson and George Plimpton, on acid, in Aspen in the year that Orwell broke...


Thursday, August 22, 2019

This Is The (Way) The Modern World (Should Work)!



I know that the the latest outbreak of Ebola is a very bad and scary thing for all those affected and for all those trying to help.

Here is the lede of a piece published earlier this week in the online, Boston Globe adjacent, biomedical mass media journal StatNews by Joel Breman:

In 1976, a mysterious viral disease swept through the isolated forest village of Yambuku in northern Zaire. I was part of the international team that investigated the outbreak, identified the virus causing it, and named it after the nearby Ebola River. The deadliness of the disease — of the 318 people infected with the virus, 280 died — captured the world’s attention, briefly.

Twenty years later, Zaire came apart at the seams, was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and became the theater of operations for two wars involving nine countries and more than two dozen militias. Those conflicts, centered at the eastern end of DRC, killed more than 5 million people but barely registered with the rest of the world. Armed militias continue to hold violent reign there.

Last year, in the middle of the former war zone, Ebola re-emerged, as it has 25 other times in sub-Saharan Africa. In this latest outbreak, 2,850 people have been infected with the virus to date and nearly 1,900 have died — the second-worst Ebola epidemic on record — and we are not close to containing it, despite the best efforts of a thousand health professionals on the ground...


Reading that, and seeing and hearing all about it on the electronic proMedia, you may have missed the news about the on-the-ground, multi-pronged clinical trial that has been going on during this latest outbreak.

The following is from a report in the straight science journal Nature by Amy Maxmen published just one month ago:

...The race to develop treatments for Ebola has accelerated since the largest epidemic in history devastated West Africa between 2014 and 2016. Scientists responding to the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have enrolled more than 500 participants in an unprecedented study of experimental drugs, vaccinated nearly 170,000 people, and sequenced the genomes of more than 270 Ebola samples collected from the sick.

“This outbreak is clearly a milestone for rigorous, good research,” says David Heymann, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “We will get definitive answers.”...


...Working in a conflict zone has forced researchers to adapt and persevere to an extraordinary degree. They have learnt how to conduct rigorous studies in areas where killings, abductions and arson are commonplace, and where Ebola responders have come under repeated attack. Although biomedical advances alone cannot defeat Ebola, scientists studying this outbreak remain hopeful that their growing knowledge will help end it — and limit those to come.

“It is not easy,” says Jean Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, a microbiologist who helped to discover Ebola and now directs the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa. “You are doing this and people are shooting.”

He and other Congolese researchers are also working to ensure that any advances will benefit their homeland, which has experienced more Ebola outbreaks than any other. “It is very important to have the research done here because at the end of the day, Ebola is our problem,” says Sabue Mulangu, an infectious-disease researcher at the INRB...

Which, in and of itself is a good thing, because this trial is being done the right way with responsible NGO's, first world researchers, and Congolese folks doing the real, hard slogging all working together for a common cause.

And then last week there was a report that the trial was being re-tooled in midstream for the very, best of reasons.

Kai Kupfershmidt had the story in the other big straight science journal Science:

A trial of four experimental Ebola treatments carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been stopped early after two of them showed strong signs of being able to save patients’ lives. The preliminary results were reported this morning by Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the partners in the study. The two treatments will now be made widely available and could help end the yearlong outbreak in the DRC, which has already killed more than 1800 people, scientists say...


...In the 41% of trial participants who sought treatment early after infection and had lower levels of Ebola virus in their blood, the two new treatments had astonishing success: Mortality plummeted to 6% in the Regeneron antibody group and to 11% with mAb114. (With ZMapp and remdesivir, mortality rates in people with low viral load were 24% and 33%, respectively.)...

This is not an outright cure as infected folks with high viral loads still succumbed at rates of 60% after they received one of the two treatments, which consist of antibodies that bind to the outer coat of the virus. However, the news here is really and truly promising because now, for the first time viable and efficacious treatment strategies are emerging that will give folks and powerful incentive to seek out medical help as early as possible. In addition, early results with a larger scale vaccine trial that is going at the same time are also promising:

...A separate study taking place in the DRC has shown that Merck’s Ebola vaccine, which has been given to 180,000 people in the current epidemic, also powerfully reduces mortality, even when it fails to prevent infection...

This really is the way the modern world should (and can) work.

Non-parenthetic earworm in the post title need scratching?....This.