Saturday, December 31, 2011

Big New Year Comin' For.....


Two of our favourite cross-over proMedia/Blogger-types and all 'round good people, Jody Paterson and Paul Willcocks:

We’re off to do volunteer work in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere - Honduras. You can help us make a real difference....

To help them make it them make it happen go here.


The BC Liberal Party's Further Descent Into 'American-Style' Politics


That was then (ie. Dec 23rd, 2011):

"I don't think Canadians welcome American-style politics. And so whether it's American politicians or American interest groups, they all to American-style politics. And I don't think anyone wants to welcome that in British Columbia...."

This is now (ie. Dec 30th, 2011):

And as for that all that Conference Board chatter that uses, you know, real facts and real context, sans cherry-picking, that clearly demonstrates that the BC Liberal Party's economic record over the last decade, a decade when we lived through the greatest commodity boom this province has ever seen, is far, far, far less than stellar?

And that, as a result of the BC Liberal Party's poor management over the last decade, we are now worse off economically than we were at the end of the NDP's reign of power in 2000?


That would appear to be a reality that the current (not)Premier and those who are (still?) riding and bankrolling her would prefer that we did not worry our pretty little heads over.

How do we know this for sure?

Because, Ms. Clark recently killed that Conference Board.




The Despots Win The Penant!


Norm Farrell, along with every shiny, happy business page in N. America, has the story.

Although, to be clear, Norm tells it a little differently.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Line Of The Holiday Season, Bar None...


"Jesus died for somebody's beer, but not his."

Mr. Beer 'N Hockey's that is.

Catch her at the just the right moment, like maybe during a New Year's Eve Eve riverside walk with the Hammer, and I reckon even Ms. Smith herself might smile a little at that one.


The Sister.


When the German-built 'Coastal Inspiration' crashed into the dock at Duke Point last week BC Ferries spokesthingy Deborah Marshall told us not to worry our pretty little heads about it because:

A) BC Ferries hardly has any 'hard landings' at all (i.e. only about a dozen per year).


B) The other German-built sister ship, 'The Coastal Renaissance' would keep on keepin' on to help take up the slack.

And, as can be seen above, the Coastal Renaissance is doing that, running on one of the busiest weekends of the year when the weather can be its worst and when, at least some of the time, the ship figures to be full to bursting with 300 plus vehicles (which is way more than the 100 cars that were on the 'Inspiration' when it crashed).


According media member and self-confessed sometimes BC Ferries spokesthingy Mr. Keith Baldrey everything's gonna be alright because....

The most recent crash will be investigated and perhaps lessons will be learned from it and that will be that (until the next serious hard landing or accident).

Yes, you read that right.

Mr. Sometimes Spokesthingy actually said 'until the next serious hard landing or accident' as if:

A) It is just bound to happen


B) When it does it will have nothing to with/completely uncoupled from the crash just past.

But here's the thing.....

We were also told by the official BC Ferries spokesthingy (that would be Ms. Marshall, not Mr. Baldrey) that the 'preliminary' indication was that the crash of the other sister was caused by an 'electrical' malfunction on the bridge and that any potential 'contributing factors' would be uncovered by the investigation mentioned by the sometimes spokesthingy above:

...Although an electronic failure in Coastal Inspiration's bridge equipment appears to be the cause of the accident, there will be a full investigation to see if there were contributing factors, (official BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah) Marshall said...

Which is all fine and good.

But that is a whole lot of 'spokesthingy talk' and very little actual talk from, people that, you know, actually know something about matters merchant marine in general, and Coastal Inspiring specifically.

But, thanks to the digging of folks like the merchant mariner who owns the blog 'Tidal Station, it has been established that a consultant for BC Ferries had concerns about the design choice of the system that the controls of the 'pitch' of the propellers of BOTH German-built sister ships that, if it failed could contribute to a ramming because the boats were being pushed forward rather than backwards at the dock.

And a ramming of the dock is what appears to have happened at Duke Point last week based on passenger statements in the media and the comments blogger Chris Montgomery elicited from crew members who were on the scene.

And then, subsequently, a commenter, Kevin S., who is a retired engineer that was involved in the propeller control design choice, helped explain all this to us. He also made it clear that there are a number of fail-safes built into the system that should have prevented any loss of pitch control that could have sent the ship into the ship ramming into the dock if there was, indeed, a loss of control due to the an electrical failure.

However, Mr. S. also noted that a document on the BC Ferries FOI site indicates that the ships may have been running only one of their props rather than two during docking to decrease vibration, noise and prop-wash which could (and we stress 'could' here) have decreased the effectiveness of any and all fail safes.


And then there are a couple of more non-spokesthingy things to consider....

First, as Ms. Montgomery noted, according to passenger reports and folks on the scene the Coastal Inspiration was 'not powering backward to slow it down' when it hit the dock, hard, which is precisely what the pitch control should have done if it was operating correctly.

Second, Mr. Tidal Station, reported that there had been a pitch control problem on one of the Celebration ships at least once before, but in the particular case he knew of it occurred far enough from shore that engineers were able to correct things manually before anything untoward happened at the dock.



Given the weight of all the non-spokesthingy information cited above, I feel strongly that the following question must be asked:

What evidence, does BC Ferries have that the propellor pitch control system did NOT contribute to the crash of the Coastal Inspiration at Duke Point?

Why do I ask this?

Because if they do not have darned good, solid evidence that they can share with the public right now (i.e. immediately), I am of the opinion that the Celebration ships (and that includes the 'Coastal Celebration' running on Route 1 this weekend) should NOT be sailing with vulnerable passengers on board until a complete, thorough and independent investigation is complete and any and all design issues with the propeller pitch control system have been ruled out entirely.


Because more than just a dock and a ferry door were injured in the Duke Point crash.

And next time, especially if the ferry is full with more than three times the cargo weight (in vehicles and people in them) on board, the injuries could be much, much worse.


I would be remiss if I did not also mention that Kevin S. and Dave from the Galloping Beaver, another merchant mariner, had a most interesting and heated discussion about design v. safety at Chris M'.s place, here.


The Fisking.


Of Keith Baldrey's latest continues over at the very fine 'Tidal Station'.

In my opinion, the most important bit of deconstruction goes as follows:

Perhaps the most egregious line in Mr. Baldry's piece is this:
The most recent crash will be investigated and perhaps lessons will be learned from it and that will be that (until the next serious hard landing or accident).
Cavalier and dismissive. 14 people killed on or by BC Ferries? Corollary damage. They'll never be any better than what they are. You could be next.

I don't see Keith Baldry being consulted on maritime safety anytime soon.

That is all.

For now.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Spin.



Update: See bottom of post for the total number of hard landings on the Washington State Ferry system in both 2010 and 2011.


BC Ferries AND Keith Baldrey are both (surprise!) telling us that we should just make like Bobby McFerrin when we find ourselves worrying our pretty little heads about the corporation's record on 'hard landings':

"...Of course, four "hard" landings so far this year seems excessive. But BC Ferries responds that its fleet sails more than 187,000 times a year and averages about a dozen hard landings (of various degrees) a year, which seems to put things in perspective..."


Let's dissect all of the spin runnin' round in that single sentence, shall we.

First, as we have already discussed, there is the matter of the pure and unadulterated bullshit that is the term 'hard landing'.

Specifically, the landing at Duke Point was a crash - pure and simple.

Second, there is the attempt to bamboozle with numbers.

187,000 'trips' per year?

So what.

And if Vancouver's airport had 'only' a dozen 'hard landings/crashes' in each and every one of those five years (i.e. 60 'hard landings/crashes' in total) I'm pretty sure that the media and, in turn, the public would be screaming bloody murder

Third, there is the matter of all those 'hard landings/crashes' being put in 'perspective' by the good Mr. Baldrey.

Which had Chris Montgomery wondering if Mr. Baldrey had a comparable reference that was used to generate such a 'perspective'.

Seeing none in Mr. Baldrey's column, or in other media reports on the matter, Ms. Montgomery did something that Mr. Baldrey et al., apparently, did not.

Which was to call up the comparably-sized Washington State Ferry service and ask them how many 'hard landings/crashes' they have had recently:

The answer, from the polite folks in the communications department, who could easily have ignored a call that was not coming from a major newspaper or TV station, or even from the U.S., was as follows:

“Regarding the number of hard landings that Washington State Ferries have experienced in 2010 and 2011 – the answer is two.”

Perspective my ass.

Or maybe that should be someone else's.

Ass, I mean.

And, again, for those 'shocked' by both my language and my inference, it was BC Ferries and Mr. Baldrey who decided to wurlitzer the/their numbers and the/their 'perspective'.
There is much more in Mr. Baldrey's column that, in my opinion, requires Fisking before it becomes 'conventional wisdom'.....That is coming.
And just to be absolutely clear the TOTAL number of hard landings for BOTH 2010 and 2011 for Washington State Ferries was two. Which is an average of, if I still remember what a demoninator is, is one....We know this because, not only did she do the initial digging, she also double-checked (see update at the bottom of her post)


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Fawning.


I will get to the burnishing of David Hahn's golden parachute that began in earnest in the pages of VT-C on Boxing Day later.

But just to make the point that this fawning by the proMedia over all that Mr. Hahn does and says, regardless the actual, you know, facts at hand, did not begin yesterday, the following is something that the illustrious Mr. Keith Baldrey wrote way, way back in 2006 just after the tragic sinking of the Queen of the North:

Early last Wednesday morning - just after 2 a.m. - my home phone rang. That's usually a reason for concern - the first thing that springs to mind is a family emergency somewhere. But this call was about another kind of emergency.

"Keith, it's Dave Hahn. Sorry about the early call, but I thought you should know. One of our vessels has just gone down north of Vancouver Island. I'm trying to get an update on the passengers. I'll keep you informed, but I thought you might want to get going on this."

It was a startling phone call, to say the least. Startling because the ferry had only sunk about an hour before, startling because of the potential magnitude of the ferry disaster, and startling because of the forthrightness of the man who runs BC Ferries.

Mr. Hahn and I talked several more times in the early hours of that morning. He would phone with updates - the most important of which was about the state of the passengers - and try to provide as much information as possible.

As the morning went on, he started appearing seemingly everywhere - one minute on CKNW, the next moment on CBC Radio, the next on Global TV. BC Ferries had hastily chartered a plane to fly Mr. Hahn and Premier Gordon Campbell to Prince Rupert to meet the Queen of the North's passengers. He invited me and a Global cameraman to accompany them.

As this potentially giant crisis was still developing, Mr. Hahn was front and centre with the public. Rather than hiding and adopting a bunker mentality when faced with a disaster for the company, he was out in front of the story, trying to provide information as quickly as possible.

In other words, he was behaving exactly the opposite of how most politicians act when faced with a crisis. The usual experience, from this reporter's perspective, is having to wait for hours outside a cabinet minister's office (or a premier's office) as nervous aides huddle, trying to figure out a damage control plan before saying anything publicly.

Not so with Mr. Hahn.

It's a refreshing approach from the head of a large company, and one that I suspect resonates well with the general public. I ran into Mr. Hahn at a Victoria gas station this past weekend, and attendants there were congratulating him for "being upfront" about everything. The radio phone-in shows have also reflected positive reviews - not scientific research, I admit, but my instincts tell me the approach is working.

All this injects yet another perspective into the ongoing debate over the privatization of BC Ferries. I have a very hard time believing information would have been forthcoming so quickly in the wake of this kind of disaster if BC Ferries were still run by the provincial government.

There are valid concerns about the need for public accountability when it comes to BC Ferries, since the company basically controls the transportation ability for thousands of people who rely on the ferry system for travel, commuting or the shipment of goods.

For example, the company is exempt from B.C.'s freedom of information law, which shields it from a significant level of scrutiny.

There are certainly parts of privatization that trouble many people. But in terms of accountability in the face of a disaster as large as the sinking of the Queen of the North, I'll take Mr. Hahn's approach over his predecessors - as in cabinet ministers - any day.

Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global B.C.

And here is what I wrote in response, way back when:

First, the obvious: Why, exactly, does Mr. Baldrey automatically conclude that persistent attempts at PR Spin = Accountability?

Second, the less obvious: Why, exactly, does Mr. Baldrey not recognize when he himself is, perhaps, being spun?

With respect to the latter question, could it be that Mr. Baldery likes it that way?


Given recent events and the non-responses to them, not to mention the lack of digging beneath the shakey ground that the babbling spokesthingies stand on, it would seem that you could ask the same questions of all of Lotusland's proMedia right about now.



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Paragraph.


As someone who just paid $126.90 to bring my family of four across the waters from the Lower Mainland to Victoria, I have a question.....


This was written by a consulting company working for BC Ferries that served them up a poop sandwich on the German-built 'Coastal Celebration' ferries more than four years ago.

And just in case you missed it, here is the really stinky bit, some of which was likely smeared on the Duke Point dock last week, is stuck right in the middle:

"....The primary drawback is at the dock; when the nearly-feathered propeller is rotating at full RPM, any failure in pitch control could have severe consequences..."

So, given that, according to the most excellent 'Tidal Station' blog, this problem with 'changing pitch' has happened before, but far enough from the dock that it could be corrected manually, why isn't every single proMedia outlet in this province screaming at BC Ferries asking how, exactly, this is being fixed and why, exactly, the other German built ferry that, presumably, also has the same propulsion system, is still running.



Some may say I am being hyperbolic here.

To those, I would respond with the following....

First.... A consulting company working for BC Ferries identifies their propulsion design choice as being a potential problem...

Second...That design decision, based on what we have been told so far, appears to have perhaps, contributed to a crash at a dock that injures people...

Third...The media does not scream long and hard at BC Ferries demanding to know what actually happened, second-by-second, and how they are actually fixing the propulsion problem...

This is pure lunacy.

Not to mention dangerous.

*I called it a 'crash' above because I agree with Chris Montgomery that calling these things 'hard landings' when you destroy a dock, mash a door, and injure people is pure unadulterated bullshit (although Chris is much more polite with her language than I am).
In addition to 'Tidal Station' and Ms. Montgomery's 'On The Waterfront', Dave at The Galloping Beaver, who points out that the only reason you can read the consultant's reported cited above is because it was rooted out by an FOI request, is also doing the job that the proMedia are not on this issue.


The Cookie Man Says Something Of Substance.


This time last year Mike de Jong was the big winner amongst the BC Liberal also-rans for the leadership of their moribund party.

On the YouTubes that is, with his now disappeared 'cookie recipe' video.

Now, a year later, as Health Minister, he has actually said something of substance, in response from otherwise (mostly) softball questions from the VSun's Pamela Fayerman:

Q. How do you feel about contracting out to private surgery facilities?
A. What I’ve discovered, in the vast majority of cases, is that people have little interest in who owns or operates the facility. What they want to know is that when they require treatment, they can present their Care Card and receive treatment in a timely way.

Q. What about paying for it themselves?
A. Well I am sure there are some who prefer that option. I put that question to the federal minister just a few weeks ago because I wanted to know if the majority federal government is planning any changes to the Canada Health Act and the answer was no. So the Canada Health Act structure will remain unchanged and we are going to manage on that basis.

Interesting that, no.

Half an extra tier maybe but then when the third rail comes defer to the Harpoons who have made it clear that devolution is going to be the way to their (anti?) Healthcare revolution.


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Traditionalist.


We played on the ferry coming over yesterday afternoon, right after the shift change, outside, on the back deck behind the SeaWest lounge where the exclusives go to avoid the crowds and the bustle.

Not to mention the hoi polloi that paid for their bon-bons.

It actually turned out to be a beautiful afternoon with high cirrus, towering mini-squalls, and wind whipping through high and hard, and then gone.

We played right through the Islands into the oranging of the early winter sunset without a whole lot of folks to listen, but three true enthusiasts stayed pretty much right through and exhorted us on after pretty much every song.

Amazing, that, how complete strangers can make you feel so good when you make them happy for no real reason at all.


Because of the wind, the stand with the Book of Tabs (and the vaunted 'Set List') was out, so we fell back on old stand-bys.

E. absolutely killed on our mash of the Decembrists' 'Down By The Water' b/w Ms. Parton's 'Jolene', even if she was forced to sing it in my key instead of hers.

Then, I held on by the skin of my thin reed, as she wailed effortlessly through 'Fogtown/Hit The Road Jack' which, it turns out, can be fused seamlessly with 'Stray Cat Strut' if you do them all in 'F'.

How's that for a trifecta!



Despite my lunatic obsession with this musical thing, you might be surprised to learn that, I do try my best (most of the time) not to push it on people.

Especially people I know that have to put up with me every day.

Like the people I work with.

So I was a bit surprised a couple of weeks ago when this shy kid who works in a lab down the hall knocked on my door and asked me if I had a minute.

Thinking she was going to ask my advice for getting Englebreth Holm Sarcoma-derived matrix to gel, or some such thing, I almost blew her off for that particular moment because I was trying to get my final exam marking done on time (for a change).

But I didn't.

And instead of going into science geek speak she asked be something very simple and direct, which was:

"Are you going to play your guitar at the Christmas party?"

I was floored.

I stammered for a bit and then tried to explain that Emily was still off at college.....

And that I didn't want to impose....

And that I hadn't rehearsed...

And that, well, you know, on my own I'm really not very good at all, and all that...

But she, this kid who had hardly ever said boo to me before, insisted.

"Why?" I finally asked.

"Because," she finally blurted, "It's a tradition!"



Did I play?

Are you kidding?

Speaking of traditions...

The True Meaning Of...


A really big, grand orange Christmas.

That is all.

And to all a good post-belly-full-of-foul, not to mention less than than two months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas In Cadboro Bay.....Do Not Go In The Water!


Because it's really hard to know what's what in the weird world of Cryptozoology....


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Set List


The kid in the image above, littler e., who is a little older now, kept us on a tight schedule yesterday on Christmas Eve Eve.

First, there was the shopping with her sister Bigger E.

I was just starting. They were just finishing.

The shopping I mean.

We began on 4th Ave where we always do. Zulu, as was Quintessence before it, is still the anchor for me. The Candy Aisle is the place for them. And we all dig the magazine store just off Arbutus that is still there despite the fact that all the high end and shiny maternity shops are now mutating into designer Toddler palaces.

Or some such thing.

We ended up out at UBC where the kids went crazy in our old friend Allan's dollar store while I went into the empire of evil cheap tech stuff store around the corner to get a hard drive to fit all the junk we now have on the household's big fat Mac that holds about a billion times more bits and bytes than the machine I wrote my entire thesis on.

And you know what?

I was more amazed by, and liked that little SE way, way better.

If that makes any post-Apple 2e sense at all.

The shopping finally came to a close at the campus bookstore where we went bonkers on the back of an old gift card I found at the bottom of an office drawer the other day. It was almost as if we were in a gameshow, running around grabbing as much stuff as possible before the buzzer went off.

We then rushed over to Oakridge (although 'rushed' is not quite the right word for it given that I made the big, big mistake of taking 41st Avenue through Kerrisdale) to drop off Bigger E. so that she could go busking with her friend N.

I then took littler e. home so that she could start wrapping, grabbed my outside guitar (see headstock in image above), and took fullest advantage of my two free hours by heading off to the beach with the Whackadoodle - which was fine because the beach was absolutely empty (which meant I could yell my head off as much as I wanted) and it was only a little rainy.

Dinner was at 6:30, and it was done and over with quickly because littler e. insisted that Bigger E. and I had to be done rehearsing and assembling our holiday set-list by 9:00pm because that was the time that watching of 'A Christmas Story' absolutely, positively had to begin.


To back up for moment, you should know that Bigger E busked for less than three hours yesterday afternoon.

And in that time she and her friend made (get this!) one hundred and fifteen dollars.


There is a little scene in one of our family busking videos from a couple of years ago where a young kid approached us at Trout Lake and asked if he could join us. I gave the kid the outside guitar (see both the Lake and the headstock, again, in the image above). He then played 'Falling Slowly' and Bigger E. sang while I exhorted them to keep going because 'they didn't need me anymore'.

Which, based on all kinds of things, including the busking haul from yesterday afternoon, is really and literally true in all the right musical senses.

And if I didn't know that already, it became crystal clear to me as Bigger E. and I worked on our set list last night.

Don't get me wrong; it was really, really fun, but I was barely hanging on as she used unleashed her voice, her phrasing, and her chops on that little 4 stringed thing of hers to whoosh on by me in a rush of power and song.

All of which means that folks are going to be really amazed over on the Island next week.

And so, without further ado, and in no particular order, here is that list:

-Blue Christmas
-Blue Suede Shoes
-Falling Slowly
-One Great City
-Christmas Waltz
-Here Comes Santa Santa Claus (insert D.Sedaris excerpt here)
-Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
-Happy Christmas

-Baby It's Cold Outside
-Fogtown/Hit The Road Jack (while exiting stage, living room and/or porch)

The image of littler e. at top comes from our most popular family busking video in which we do 'The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton' by that genius John Darnielle....The image of the smile comes from the 1:58 mark...
Bigger E. starting to go Indie, for real, is presaged in this one at the 2:00 mark....
Now, back to 'A Christmas Story'....If Ralphie pinned all his hopes and dreams on that air rifle, I probably pinned my most recent ones on that goddamned outside guitar. Both have since paid off in spades I reckon.
The cursing of the guitar is, of course, a Springsteen reference wherein (in my imagination at least) a Darren McGavin-like Dad tells him to turn down the 'goddamned guitar' as he works on his hopes and dreams endlessly in his bedroom and the sound drifts down to the kitchen via the heat vent....And, for the record, my Mom still thinks he of the hopes and dreams sings like a man with a mouthful of marbles unlike, say, her Elvis.


Friday, December 23, 2011

It Would Appear That The Good People Of PG And The 'Loops....

...Won't Have The Ghost Of Lord Tubby To Ignore Anymore.

Will wonders and/or the War on Crazy Anti-Canadian Ghosts of Christmas Past never cease?

Here's the link to T. Hawthorn's tweet.


Will The (not)Premier's Year-Enders Come Back To Bite Her?


Don't know about you, but I'm surprised that there has been so little reaction to Christy Clark's extensive and pretty wide-ranging year-end/round-up interviews that she held with pretty much any and all the media outlets in Lotusland, friendly or not-so.

For all kinds of reasons, including the fact that it smacks of desperation.

Because when the hard rock candy mountain pols running the show let their horse out of the barn unbridled pretty much anything can happen.

And while Ms. Clark did not come off like the NewKitsier PoMo version of the Grifter from Wasilla, given her ability to lay down a thin veneer of common sensical nonsensical nonsense non-stop, many of her pronouncements, at their core, really weren't all that much different than the 'I can see First Nations Treaties from my house!' variety.

Case in point, here's what Ms. Clark had to say about economic partnerships in response to a 'grilling' from the very friendly Tom Fletcher:

"Ellis Ross, who's the Chief Councillor of the Haisla, says 'We're going to have too many jobs. That's going to be our biggest problem up here as a result of the LNG project.' They found a way to be a partner in that economic development, and so for First Nations around the province who are seeing this tremendous success, I just don't think those American environmental groups are going to have much luck with those folks. Because they understand that they have a really big stake in economic development. And this idea that foreigners should come into Canada and try to stop economic development when they aren't going to be the losers or the winners on either end of it, I don't think Canadians want that. Let's make our own decisions for heaven's sake."

For heaven's pearly-gated community sakes, indeed.

Now, just to deconstruct the griftier one's nic-patched speed-babble bubble-talk for a moment.

First, there is the ridiculousness of the 'there will be too many jobs!' deflector spin.

And second, where the heck did all this 'Americans and foreigners are trying to tell us what to do' stuff come from?

Well, that followed from an extremely leading question from the good Mr. Fletcher that went like this:

...I was just given some information about one of these U.S. charitable foundations specifically targeting a grant to oppose the Prosperity mine. There's a stack of them, U.S. money coming in large amounts to organize aboriginal people against the oil pipeline. Are you concerned about that, do you think this opposition is really grassroots, or that there really is influence from the U.S.?

And how did the thrifty-grifty one answer that query about 'stacks of them'?

Well, as you might expect, she went full metal talk show host and responded thusly:

"I don't think Canadians welcome American-style politics. And so whether it's American politicians or American interest groups, they all to American-style politics. And I don't think anyone wants to welcome that in British Columbia...."

Sure thing Madame (not)Premier.

But what about this?

And this?


All you need now is ten thousand local-OJ's in white broncos and/or dune buggies comin' down the mountain to distract the marks for a year or so until the first Family day rolls out in February 2013 and everything should be just fine and dandy.




Here come the White Broncos/Dune Buggies now!

"Last week the dedicated team of Crown counsel assigned to the Stanley Cup riot prosecutions advised the court of their intention to apply to have these proceedings publicly broadcast.

This is in keeping with a commitment set out in the government's throne speech, and I want to explain why I have directed these applications to be made.

This government believes that the courts need to be open institutions for the public and when we have opportunities to enhance the transparency of our justice system, we need to pursue those....

{snippety doo-dah}

...I can think of no better way and in no better circumstance than with the Vancouver riots for the public to see justice in action...."

And who wrote that love, American style 'Hang-em High!' justice-type bullpatootie?

Well, it sure as heckfire wasn't the recently fired/resigned/took-a-walk-at-the-last-minute former AG Barry Penner.

Can't quite place that 'ten thousand dune-buggies comin' down the mountain' anti-griftier than thou reference?....Well, this oughta take care of that....


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Whimsy To All, And To All A Good Night

From our good friend Theo.

Theo's fantastically whimsical, not to mention colourful, stuff can be found here.


Requiem For Lotusland's Musical Heavyweights


John Mackie, in the VSun, has the story of the new-and-improved, supersized version of Susanne Tabata's documentary of Vancouver's late 70's punk scene 'Bloody But Unbowed'.

Or in my case, my kid brother.

VANCOUVER — There’s been so much graffiti in Vancouver over the years very little sticks in the memory. But I still recall a bizarre message somebody spray-painted on a wall near one of the downtown bridges about 30 years ago: “Tunnel Canary Hates You.”

There may have been an exclamation point, as well. Lord knows what the masses thought about it, because few people in Vancouver knew who, or what, Tunnel Canary was. Let alone why they would hate them.

People in the punk underground understood, however. Tunnel Canary was the most out-there band in Vancouver’s great punk/new wave/art rock explosion of 1978-9. They didn’t play that much, but when they did, they made a point of being in your face.....

And who knows, maybe if you look real hard you may just see a younger version of The Dean in there somewhere.


What Is The Real Reason....

...The Damaged Ferry Door Has To Be Manufactured In Germany?


Post-Carmichael and DaveWeigh-In Update: Turns out its insurance and classification and stuff that is forcing the German build...Like being forced to pay through the nose to keep the warranty on your car valid, I reckon...Details at Chris Montgomery's place

Chris Montgomery and reader Alastair Haythornwaite really want to know.


Because it would appear that we actually do have the technology and the skilled people in place who could do it here.

The following is from an exchange between blogger and reader over at Chris' place:

“The door could be reversed engineered by a local fabrication such as United Engineering / Point Hope Shipyard. It is standard in the jobbing shop business for pieces to be brought in worn out or broken and ask to have another made.

This leads me to believe there is a contractual obligation to go back to the manufacturer.”

“Thanks, Alastair. I was told pretty much the same, that the frustration is that repairs that could normally be done here are being sent off to Germany for contractual, patent-type reasons, which would have been things the company signed on to (at the time the order was being arranged)..."


Is there really a David Hahn-induced contractual agreement in place that says we have to give even more of our money to the people that built our ferries so that our own people couldn't?

Build them in the first place, I mean.

Make sure you head on over to Ms. Montgomery's place to get the entire conversation - and to read her shout out to proMedia reporters regarding the REAL questions they could (should?) be asking the BC Ferries Spokesthingies.


What If?

For all the right reasons, Alain Vigneault is big news in Lotusland these days.

After all, his Canuckleheads are on a roll, his Swedes are playing World Cup soccer on ice, and he's got Luongo right where he wants him while, simultaneously, Schneider's stock has never been higher.

But, appropo of nothing at all, except maybe the Randy Cunneyworth situation in Montreal....

What if.....

A.V. only spoke French?


My Morning Ride


The way things appeared as I looked back over my shoulder on the Pacific Spirit Park trail this morning.

No coyotes today, but there have been quite a few around lately.

This spot is about 600 meters away from where the heart will soon be cut out of the park.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lean, Mean Inkless Wells Machine...


....Throws a stiff jab at the Globe and (nolongerEmpire)Mail's chief gossip columnist:

(we still laughin'...)


Ferry Crash Number Four....The Door Has It.


It turns out that, in addition to the dock, the latest BC Ferries crash at Duke point also damaged one of the ship's doors.

And recall, if you will, that this is one of those new gas guzzlers from Germany.

Which means that you can't order up a part from the lot, or even from the dealer down the street.

Instead, you've got to make the very expensive call across the ocean.

Chris Montgomery has the story:

...The ferry itself took damage to the portside door, which means having a replacement part made and flown in from Germany...

{snippety doo-dah}

...It’s really odd that the company finds itself in the position of having to have door parts made abroad.

Crew tell me the new ferries “cost us a lot” in parts and maintenance. They say the deal made for the vessels with the German yard was kind of like buying a Porsche, where you can’t go out later and buy parts of your choice. You have to get them flown in, at whatever price the seller chooses, and you can’t make them yourself, because you haven’t negotiated any patents. So for some other ships in the fleet, engineers can machine new parts. On the Coastals, the bow doors are a different design that lifts the door and then slides it on a roller. When it works, it’s really slick. But when it gets hit, the damage is huge. It’s a heavy door but a fairly light track system, and that and the cylinders that lift the door are what gets ruined when the door gets whacked, the engineers say. That’s when you get stuck with a month-long wait and a big bill for parts.

And that’s where you find yourself when you go for the kind of contract Ferries signed for the German newbuilds. Great on the front end: good price, lots to brag about, on time and on budget. The bills come in later....

Of course there is also the minor matter of the alleged Hochsteining of the local shipbuilding industry that may or may not (but I reckon it probably did) have had something to do with the awarding of those contracts offshore in the first place.

But hey, we've been through all that before.

I'm telling you, if you are not reading Ms. Montgomery's stuff regularly on all matters Maritime, you are really missing out. Case in point, yesterday she also questioned the official party line that there is nothing to see here/no need for a publicly scrutinizable investigation because this kind of stuff is bound to happen once in awhile.....Or some such codswallop.


Have The Politicalized PABsters Become The Policy?


Rob Shaw, writing in the VT-C after talking to UVIC poli-sci guy Norman Ruff, has come up with an interesting angle on the document-dump Friday appointment of Christy Clark's bridesmaid to head the PABsters last week:

Premier Christy Clark's decision to appoint someone from her office to oversee government communications is a further politicization of what's supposed to be a nonpartisan civil service, a longtime political analyst says.

"It's this phenomenon of the politicization of the senior bureaucracy, and that's a pretty established trend," said Norman Ruff, political science professor emeritus at the University of Victoria. "The line is getting blurred between policy orientation and politicization."

Clark's deputy minister of corporate priorities, Athana Mentzelopoulos, was named deputy minister of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government on Friday.

She'll oversee the communications and public engagement office, a $26million operation with 197 full-time employees. She'll report to minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

The civil service is supposed to run in a nonpartisan manner, focused on the best interests of the provincial government and its citizens, rather than the political consequences and partisan interests of the governing party and its politicians.

"Your prime focus is effective, efficient public policy," said Ruff. "Where you get people playing on both teams, it undermines the quality of the policy process."....

{snippety doo-dah}

Clark's decision to put a trusted lieutenant in charge of communications shows her focus, Ruff said.

"Policy, especially under Clark, has become very much about communications," he said. "It's about talk rather than action."....


Here's the thing.

The PAB has been heavily politicized since, well, since Ms. Mentzelopoulos ran it for Gordon Campbell way back when.

So, personally, we don't see that this is any change in direction whatsoever.

Now, don't get us wrong.

We definitely think that having the Bridesmaid revisit the partisan communications monster that she helped create is a bad thing.

But, what we think is a much, much, much worse thing, indeed, is that we continue to spend $30,000,000 per year* to pay for 200 full-time positions that are then used to Wurlitzer-up breathless press releases that nobody ever reads, snap pics at photo-ops that few eyeballs ever see, produce an endless stream of YouTube videos that that nobody ever watches, and monitor tiny little F-Troop-list blogs like this one that are a threat to no one whatsoever.


Put another way, why are we paying all these people to do all this so-called important stuff that doesn't actually do anything for anyone when, for example, as far as I'm aware we still have only a handful of full-time Park Rangers in this province?

*According to the $50K/year price the (not)Premier put on the heads of the adult disabled, approximately 600 extra folks that need our help most could be cared for every single year if we just let ministerial assistants do this communications fluff work so that we could eliminate the PAB entirely.
Speaking of docu-dump Fridays, we've got a hella one coming up this week....Wonder what the surprise announcement(s) will be this time 'round.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is A Vote For Christy Now, Officially....


....A Vote For The NDP?

The VSun's Doug Ward is first out of the gate with the latest poll numbers. Here's his lede:

VANCOUVER — B.C. Premier Christy Clark has failed to stem the growing appeal of the provincial Conservatives, a new poll suggests.

The survey by Forum Research found that 34 per cent of British Columbians support the NDP, with the governing BC Liberals and the Conservatives in a dead heat at 23 per cent. The Green party trails with 15 per cent....

How does that aborted smear of the curmudgeon rising smell now?


Canada Still Coming Up Triple Zeros


In a good way.....

As was explained by citizen Terry Champion in a fantastic letter to the Edmonton Journal a couple of days ago:

"Statistics for 2009 compiled by Harvard Medical School and the U.S. Census Bureau show that, in the insurance-dominated U.S. healthcare system, 45,000 Americans died because they had no health insurance; 922,819 Americans went bankrupt because of medical expenses; 50,700,000 Americans have no health insurance.

The comparable figures from the Canadian health-care system are zero, zero and zero..."


Put another way given that we are now more than 10 years in....

Almost half a million Americans have been killed by the lack of universal healthcare since the tragedy of 9/11.

And, just in case you want to have a look at it, you can get to the original HMS study by following the links from here.