Saturday, July 31, 2010

BC Ferries A-Go-Go....Maybe They Should Just Start Overbooking Reservations?


It's the last Saturday morning in July.....

And I hope everyone is where they want to be already on this fine BC Day long weekend.

However, if you are/will be/or have been stuck-in a BC Ferries line-up, I feel for you.

But the folks I feel for most are the passengers that were stuck in the massive line-ups that started piling up last Tuesday.


Last Tuesday.

Which begs the question....If ticket prices are up and ridership is down, why exactly is this happening?


I wonder if all those instantaeously full ferries has anything to do with the ratcheting up of percentages per sailing that are held back for those suckers and/or folks that actually have to get somewhere on time who are willing to pay for the privilege of being held hostage to David Hahn's 'reservation' policy that is actually pretending to be something other than what it really is.

Which, of course, is nothing less than a $35 round-trip price increase.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And The Digressors Shall Inherit The Earth


One of my favourite parts of 'Catcher In The Rye' is a bit of a weird one.

And in an even weirder sort of way, it kind of defines my world view (on the non-science-geek side, of course).

It's that part of the book where young Mr. Caulfield is explaining how one of the things that drives him crazy is when the phonies won't let people digress on any and all matters that strike their fancy....

"....It's nice when somebody tells you about their uncle. Especially when they start out telling you about their father's farm and then all of a sudden get more interested in their uncle. I mean it's dirty to keep yelling 'Digression!' at him when he's all nice and excited. I don't know. It's hard to explain....."

Hard to explain, indeed.

But here's the crazy part.....

While the only time my hit-rates really climb is when I hammer on something very narrow and specific for a long time (which is what the science-geek side of me does in my real job as well), what gets the most interesting responses, and often invokes the best discussions, are the weird digressions I sometimes engage in 'round here.

Like the recent piece about staying at an Emeryville California hotel on the marsh between Berkeley and Oakland, for example.

(eva was here)

(Hey! where the heckfire did that come from?)


Usually, this kind of stuff does not really get noted by anybody but me.


In a recent comment thread that erupted over the critically important issue of line spacing between paragraphs or, more precisely, the lack thereof, Paul Willcocks said something that, in retrospect, made me feel pretty darned......


Here's what Paul had to say.......

I just paste a txt file into blogger. Maybe there's a better way.

I created the blog in 2000 because I thought the technology was interesting after I read a New Yorker article about the company.

I started posting columns as in 2002, thinking that if the e-mailed versions to subscribing newspapers went astray, they could find the columns here instead of trying to track me down. And perhaps a few people would stumble on them.

I almost never posted anything but the columns.

That reflected my ethos as a freelancer. I wrote for a living, paid by the piece or the word.

So spending time each day writing for free about the same kind of things wasn't appealing. There were other things I would rather write and other ways I could contribute my time.

Spending time formatting was even less appealing, and remains so.

I have broadened my posting in the last two years, encouraged by the Gazeteer's example.

I am most pleased with the amount of searchable information on the blog.

There are about 1,000 posts, almost all columns and a lot of useful quotes and numbers. (The Campbell comments on government advertising in this column were from a 2003 piece on a health ad campaign.)

Is there an automatic way to signal paragraphs more effectively in documents pasted into blogger?


(oh, and by the way, the paragraph spacing above is all mine)

So, we're walking the streets of the Haight yesterday, (well, OK, we're walking up and down one street) ostensibly shopping in junk stores, and I get lured into a T-shirt shop....I come out with a really cool SanFrancisco Sea Lions T-Shirt.....Now, I know all about the SanFrancisco Seals, which is the old Pacific Coast League team that the DiMaggio brothers played for back in the '30's....As for the Sea Lions?....Well, they were one of the West Coast Negro League teams that, after the league's demise, apparently became barnstorming legends....Imagine that!


Monday, July 12, 2010

And If A Few British Columbians Get Hurt In The Process...


...Who cares.

Because when creative destructionism is your credo as a means to force change....


It would appear that if you work for Gordon Campbell creating fake "crises" to make things happen is the state-sanctioned way to go.

The best investigative journalist alive in British Columbia today, Sean Holman, has the story.


And most impressively, Mr. Holman dug this nugget out of a pile of publically available documents.....Izzy Stone would be very proud indeed.
Now, while I'm sure Sean wouldn't go there (although he does mention something about non-existent 'tin-foil hats'), I think it is worth considering taking this thing one step further and considering who, exactly, has benefitted most by all this creative destructionism since 2001.....Me, I would argue it is most definitely not the people of BC, but instead the Corporations that have been recruited to this province by the destructionists themselves....Now, when you have government and corporate interests converging based on false crises, what do you get?.....Yup, you've got it (and it is most definitely not the Buzzcocks' first single).....Instead, it starts with an 'F' and it was despised by the greatest busker of all time....But....As the legendary savarists might say, if they really do exist....."What are you people complaining about? After all, at least now the trains that used to be yours run on time!"....Sheesh?


Saturday, July 10, 2010

littler e. At The Plaza


For reasons that are way too complicated to go into at the moment, our usual friendly destination on our old street in Berkeley could not take us in this time around.

Thus, at the last minute, while we were still lounging in palatial splendor at F&L's place cliffside in Mendocino, I was forced to scramble for a Bay Area motel/hotel that would not break the bank during the highest of high (if slightly fog-frosted) tourist season.

Using Tripadvisor (which I highly recommend, by the way) we came up with the Emeryville 'Garden' Hilton, ostensibly so that I could pretend that we were actually going to an Oakland Oaks game while we instead wander around the local Ross Dress For Less and go bonkers buying cheap wine (and a three day growth?) at Trader Joes.

All joking aside, the faux-falutin' hotel that is actually cheaper than the La Quinta in Bellingham, is pretty much perfect rare occasion-type deal for C., The Two E's, and me.....Big lobby....Fancy-Schmancy sheen everywhere....Room decent, if a little noisy as it is right next to the freeway....And the two E's love all the 'amenities'....Me, I am currently sitting in a stinkin' Starbucks (which I can't believe given that I'm only a couple of miles from the gourmet ghetto and the birthplace of Peets' - although the WiFi is decent and free, as it is everywhere down here) because the kids want to go to the fitness room and the 'spa' instead of MLK Park off of Hopkins to play 'hats' with the eucalyptus shells....Oh well, what the hell....We are in 'America' after all....And when in Rome with kids-in-tow it does sometimes pay to fiddle.....Speaking of which, the busking was very fine in the truly bizarre culture clash zone that is the Point Arena Pier the other day.....

(and just so you know - Oakland is not on fire after the BART shooting verdict....Despite what the TeeVee may have told you - more on that later)


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

How Is British Columbia Not Like Argentina


When I was a much younger man I worked in a wilderness camp in the Sooke Hills.

Which, come to think of it, is located not far from that most interesting development near the river that is the subject of that 'other' trial.


One summer I took a bunch of teenage kids on the Westcoast trail and then spent a few days at the camp itself cleaning gear, running FatBellyHours* by the bushel full, and playing Nature Stratego with a bunch of not quite teenage kids.

As a result when I got into town and started buying newspapers hand over fist, as is my want whenever I get back from any trip, I was flummoxed to find that the entire Falklands War had come and gone without my even knowing that it happened.

All of which is just a prelude to telling you that we (ie. C, the two E's, and me) have been on a remote stretch of the Northern California coast for the last week or so.

Which is a beautiful place.

But the Interwebz 'round here are, as far as I can tell, pretty much powered by the caged gerbils down the street at the local hardware/pet store.

As such, I've pretty much been offline since we left the EconoLodge in Ashland Oregon last Tuesday.


Given our prolonged absence you probably figure that I must have missed out on all manner of important developments in the RailGate trial, right?


And now, suddenly the judge has released the jury from duty and told them that School's out for Summer until Sept 13th .

After just one witness!

Good thing the issues being bandied about at this trial don't have anything to do with the trumping of public interests by corporate ones that are fully aligned with hidden government 'policies'.

'Cause if it was, well.....

Wouldn't that mean that, perhaps, British Columbia in the year 2010 just might have something in common with the Argentina of 1982?


Where is Woody Guthrie when we need him?


You can learn more about the sheer joy of FatBellyHours here....
Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that C. and I actually met at said camp in the hills the year before, back in 1981.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Harmonized Sales Tax Scofflaws...How Much Did They Pay?



Update: Friday July 2nd....The Tax is online, and so are our readers!....My numbers below are actually way, way, way low....See the comments for the real totals....They are in the millions...Thanks everybody!...On the road today, will update later......


Leaving aside the legalities within the legalities of this silly business about a call for a 'judicial review' by the soon to be (even bigger than ever) corporate tax scofflaws for the moment.

And let's not even bother discussing the real motivations behind the well-calculated attempt at innoculatory spike spin timed just prior to the delivery of the petition right now.

Instead, let's just focus on the actual 'initiative' and its signatories for a second.


First here's a breakdown of the 'Initiative/Press Release/Codswallop itself....


Statement re launch of Judicial Review of HST initiative

Business Groups Seek Certainty on Validity of HST Extinguishment Act

Vancouver (June 29, 2010) - In a June 4, 2010 article in the Vancouver Sun, former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant questions the constitutional validity of the draft bill at the heart of the anti-HST initiative – the so-called “HST Extinguishment Act.”

Mr. Plant’s argument is rooted neither in the politics nor in the substantive merits of the HST itself. Rather, he focuses on blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.....

The vast majority of B.C. business organizations support.....blah, blah, blah, blah....Democracy breeds uncertainty which will kill us all!

Concerned about this uncertainty, a number of business associations have today filed for Judicial Review ......blah, blah, blah, blah.....Unconstitutional! Run for the hills!!!

We are hopeful that the Judicial Review we have requested can be completed expeditiously, providing.....blah, blah, blah, blah.....Legalities! Lawyers!! Litigation!!!

Seeking judicial review at this juncture will avoid the considerable legal confusion that would result if the initiative process were to proceed unchecked on its current course. There should be no hesitation whatsoever in taking the necessary steps to ensure that British Columbians....blah, blah, blah, blah.........Don't come to see themselves as agents of real change....blah, blah, blah.....You're all Dupes!!!!
- 30 -

Now, as for the signatories to the codswallop themselves....

Shall we have a look at the (all exclusive) donations to the BC Liberal Party since 1005 to ensure that said party and could Dupe the Dupees for now and forever more (and twice on retroactive Sunday drives; with all numbers taken from here)?

John Allan, President & CEO, Council of Forest Industries ($25,215)
Pierre Gratton, President & CEO, Mining Association of BC ($13,180)
Philip Hochstein, President, Independent Contractors & Businesses Assoc. ($60,160)
Wayne Hoskins, President, Western Convenience Stores Association ($500 worth of penny candy)
Rick Jeffery, President & CEO, Coast Forest Products Association ($62,300, combined)
John Winter, President & CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce (nada, on the face of it, at least)

Grand (just scratching the surface as it doesn't include all the companies associated with those 'associations') Total = $161,355.

Which is almost David McLean, Peter Armstrong and/or CIBC money.


On the brightside, so far these fine folks are screwing us with their own money, unlike the actual government of Gordon Campbell that uses our money to do the drilling.....
Mr. Willcocks has a good, snark-free take on the potential public backlash from all of this here...