Friday, September 22, 2023

Who Is This 'He'?


Mr. Scrimshaw.

Writing on the Lotuslandian political scene:

...He’s strengthened the Cons at his own expense, Mainstreet has them in third, and there have been reports of 2 other private polls with the BC Conns above 20%. He’s had 3 answers on the “Million” march this week, and has managed to come to an answer on parental rights that has pleased nobody, and now the BC Cons have to be taken seriously, since they have two MLAs and official party status now...


Who is this 'He' that Mr. Scrimshaw speaks of?

Why, it's the Kevinator:

...(Kevin) Falcon has to do what he’s been avoiding for months and take a decision about the future of the party. Is it going to be a party for young professionals, social liberals, and the reasonably affluent, f*ck their right flank? Or are they going to become a party of their right flank, make them indistinguishable from the BC Cons, and smother Rustad? Because doing neither ends one way - with the BC Liberals relegated to history, just like the SoCreds before them...

But here's the thing that, perhaps, particularly given that he's an outsider, Mr. Scrimshaw may not know...

Mr. Falcon is not 'like' the SoCreds before them.

He is the SoCreds.

Always was and always will be.

From Frances Bula, writing in 2009 in Business in Vancouver:

...Kevin Falcon sounds slightly awestruck, almost gushing, when he talks about his most memorable encounter with one of the major political inspirations of his life, former premier Bill Bennett.

It was at the Hotel Vancouver during the height of the union-organized Solidarity protests against the premier’s restraint plans in the fall of 1983. On October 15, 60,000 protesters surrounded the hotel, where the Social Credit party was holding its annual convention, one of the largest political protests this province has ever seen. But inside the hotel’s convention rooms, amid the carpets and chandeliers, Socreds of all descriptions were networking as usual.

The 20-year-old Falcon, an insurance broker and Junior Chamber of Commerce vice-president active in the Young Socreds, walked past the premier as he was talking with Peter Brown and Murray Pezim, two major power brokers.

“I was standing there hoping that maybe when their discussion was finished, I might get a chance to introduce him to my friends. And the premier saw me, said, ‘Excuse me,’ to these very important people and came over and said, ‘Hello, Kevin, How are you? Good to see you.’"...

Imagine that!

Image at the top of the post?...This.


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Ninety-Four Days.


Ninety-four days seems like a long time when the going gets a little tough.

Of course, it's absolutely nothing compared to the six months and twenty-four cycles of chemotherapy that C. went through not long ago.

Anyway, it's now Day 16 of my 94 day long term from hell and things are starting to settle down a little, especially given that the grants have gone in now. However, that will all change when course number three kicks in next week.


Yesterday, the weather turned toward fall and it was the first day I wore a jacket while riding to work. It was also the first time in months that I thought about what the winter will bring.

It's a weird thing.  When it's the middle of summer I have a very difficult time even conceiving of the middle of winter.

And apparently, the denizens of John Steinbeck's Salinas Valley had the same difficulty remembering what the coming seasons would bring.

How do I know that?

Because I'm reading 'East of Eden' for the first time since high school.

e., who, in addition to being a performer, is a reader like her big sister E., left Steinbeck's magnum opus on my desk down in the subterranean blues room recently after she was done with it.


When I arrived at e.'s apartment in Victoria awhile back with the rental van that we used to bring all her stuff back to central Lotusland (because she finished college last spring) my brother the former fireman was there to give us a hand.

As he was expertly packing things into the van such that the load shifted not once on the drive and ferry ride home, the former fireman noticed that one of the items he was packing away was a little cabinet I made when I was a kid.

"That looks like a 'Woodwork 9' project," he said.

It was, indeed.


I took woodwork in grade 9 in 1973.

Fifty years ago.

Which just proves that Dylan was only half right.

Because, while time may be a jet plane that moves too fast when it's feeling frisky, the 78 days remaining until my last class of the term seems like an eternity at the moment.


Jody Paterson has an interesting post up at her place about the death of both newspaper column writing and long form blogging...It's worth a read...While I don't disagree with Ms. Paterson,  I have a very different motivation for continuing on with the long(ish) form thing.


Sunday Set...Into The Darkness.


This is a lullaby set.

Lots of old stuff...

Image at the top of the post
is our cat Benny, all ready for a ferry trip to the island...We lost the little guy early this summer....I still miss him.


Carbon Offset Projects, What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing!

From Nina Lakhani writing in The Guardian:

The vast majority of the environmental projects most frequently used to offset greenhouse gas emissions appear to have fundamental failings suggesting they cannot be relied upon to cut planet-heating emissions...


...In a new investigation, the Guardian and researchers from Corporate Accountability, a non-profit, transnational corporate watchdog, analysed the top 50 emission offset projects, those that have sold the most carbon credits in the global market.

According to our criteria and classification system:

A total of 39 of the top 50 emission offset projects, or 78% of them, were categorised as likely junk or worthless due to one or more fundamental failing that undermines its promised emission cuts.

Eight others (16%) look problematic, with evidence suggesting they may have at least one fundamental failing and are potentially junk, according to the classification system applied.

The efficacy of the remaining three projects (6%) could not be determined definitively as there was insufficient public, independent information to adequately assess the quality of the credits and/or accuracy of their claimed climate benefits...

So what, you may be asking.


Fake solutions that kickstart pablumized PR spin designed to promulgate a business/government-backed push for continued fossil fuel extraction and combustion will cause even hotter summers, and more fires, and more extreme weather events, and more ocean warming, and more sea level rise, and more human displacement, and more and more and more species eradication.


Earworm in the headers?


Monday, September 18, 2023

An Inevitable Media Feedback Loop.


From a piece by what appear to be two actual humans named Frank Landymore and Jon Christian published in 'Futurism':

When the iconic entertainment site The A.V. Club started publishing AI-generated articles earlier this summer at the directive of its owner, G/O Media, the backlash was intense.

"The A.V. Club used to be a benchmark for pop culture writing on the net and now it's a private equity ghost town pumping out AI generated listicles," wrote film journalist Luke Dunne...


...Amid the fallout, G/O editorial director Merrill Brown sent out an internal memo instructing staff to ignore the criticism...

"Several of us are very familiar with this kind of chatter as it's part of an inevitable media industry feedback loop that comes with the advance of new technologies like the Internet in the nineties and more recently the widespread use of streaming media technology"...


What's it really all about Alfie?

Well, as you may have already guessed...

The inevitable feedback loop that feeds the online firehose filled to bursting with liquified garbage, is designed to...

Get rid of actual people:

...The reality, of course, is that G/O (Media) is almost certainly testing whether it can use this type of automated content to eliminate the jobs of its remaining human staffers.

It has a long history in that domain. And though G/O only began its AI experiment in July (of 2023), the slow exsanguination of its excellent publications, including The Onion and Deadspin, had already begun years before...


No new stuff...just an endless loop grinding the pablum ever finer...

Quelle surprise!

Interestingly, or, perhaps ironically... The online journal 'Futurism', where this 'expose' appeared, appears itself be part of a venture/hedgy-backed  pseudo content farm-type organization called 'Recurrent Media'...Again, in their defense, at least they seem to be using real, actual people writers (who sure do crank out the pieces though)...
Subheader ear worm?...This! 


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

One More Example Of The Creeping Americanization Of Our Body Politic.


There is this ridiculous thing that happens over and over and over again after needless, preventable tragedies occur in the States, which is that politicians of certain ideologic stripe inevitably offer up nothing but 'Hopes and Prayers' and exhort all concerned not to 'politicize' the issue.

The editorial cartoon shown above was published in the Washington Post a few years ago after the worst mass shooting in American history occurred in Las Vegas. It was a terrible tragedy that was driven by the ability of one person to legally acquire multiple high capacity semi-automatic AR-15-like weapons that he then used to kill, maim and injure huge numbers of people in a very short period of time for no good reason at all.

Of course, this is an extreme example of the 'Hopes and Prayers' crutch that is used by US politicos who don't want to actually do anything re: responsible gun control that would massively decrease the incidence of mass shootings that now occur pretty much daily in that country.

The same see/hear/speak no evil strategy in the face of, essentially, preventable evil has spread to other realms, including tragedies fuelled by our rapidly escalating climate crisis.

But what about much, much more easily preventable E. coli outbreaks in privatized daycares?

In, say, Canada?

Does that result in immediate calls from our politicians for increased regulation of the kind we used to have before self-regulatory policies allowed Listeria to bloom, willy nilly, in meat cutters?


Most certainly not, at least so far in Alberta as Andre Picard noted recently in the Globe (and no longer Empire) Mail:

The outbreak of E. coli that is unfolding in a small number of Calgary daycare centres is absolutely horrific. As of Sunday, there had been 190 cases reported, including 27 patients hospitalized, of whom 20 have “severe illness.”...


....Despite the magnitude of this problem, we have yet to hear a peep from Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, who is (checks notes) Dr. Mark Joffe. AHS seems to be content with releasing a daily count of the hospitalized, and basic information telling parents what to do if their children fall ill. Meanwhile, both Premier Danielle Smith and provincial Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange have been “sending thoughts and prayers” to parents. Argh...

Enough said?


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Struck Dumb At Oak And Twenty-Fifth.


I'm lucky in that my commuter trip from the near Eastern Townships to the Pointiest of Grey Points on the western edge of Central Lotusland takes place almost entirely on bike (and/or bike friendly) routes.

But there is one stretch where, particularly if I'm in a hurry, I use King Edward, which is reasonably OK given that most of it is that wide open stretch between Oak and Granville.


On Friday I got started a little late and headed out into the teeth of the rush that, when you factor in SUV's ferrying kids to westside schools, can be a real schmozzle.

And as I headed for the corner of Oak and 25th I couldn't help but notice the massive three stop light long lines of cars heading off in all directions all at once.

I was also struck dumb with the realization that we've just got to stop this.

Now, I further realize that only a small percentage of people will ever ride a bike, even if it is battery powered, regularly to and from work/school, etc., especially in the grey months.

But, honestly, why don't we have buses heading off in all directions all at once all the time?

And why aren't rides on all those buses subsidized to the hilt with actual, comprehensive carbon tax monies to make them as cheap as possible, if not free?

Image at the top of the post?
....From the City of Vancouver Archives (decided to make like NVG on this one)..King Ed and Oak looking west, sometime in the '80's...The actual pavement itself is pretty much the same, the buildings, not so much...
Heading into Day 6 of the term from heck fire...Got through the first week...The grant is almost done and professional school teaching now tapers off for me a little as the new course and my undergraduate teaching ramps up...


Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Our Ferry Summer.


Our summer of ferry rides ended yesterday at approximately 3:41 pm when we drove off the bottom deck of the Queen of New Westminster at the Tsawwassen terminal just behind the hordes of departing people with bikes and/or pets as well as a gaggle of folks pulling kayaks on tiny wheeled carts.

Why were we on the bottom deck of that old, but still serviceable, locally built boat despite the fact that we both had a reservation and were first in line?

Well, for the first time ever, we were told that the low slung Mazda 5 with the Thule box on top was overheight, despite the fact that we have always fit under the 7 foot bar at the bottom of the ramp since we first bought that car almost 10 years ago now.

C., who is normally the most agreeable of travellers, was miffed and said that if it hadn't been so busy and if she had been on her own, she would have forced the ticket booth lady to get out the measuring stick.

Why the fuss?

Because we don't like to leave the Whackadoodle II, pictured above, on her own down in the car for the entire trip.


I have to say that, despite all the troubles BC Ferries had this summer, we really had no complaints on the many trips we took.


But all that summer stuff is behind us now and, truth be told, I'm not quite sure how I got myself into this predicament but I've got a whole lot of teaching to do this term. Specifically, two full gradual school courses, one of which is brand new to me, as well as significant chunks of two undergraduate courses and an increased load in the professional school stuff I do.

On the bright side - it's only 92 days until the last class of the term.

But who's counting!

I'm not really complaining
about the teaching... I actually like it once things get rolling, and doing more of it is what old academics should be doing so that the young folks can focus on their research as much as possible while their still at the cutting edge of things...Speaking of the latter, I'm helping a young colleague with a grant at the moment for a really interesting applied science project where we're going to try and pluck single cells out of 3-D organoids so that they can be fully characterized 'omic'ally....The young guy's expertise is doing the cell plucking using an interesting technology called open microfluidics while our group is making the organoids...
Image at the top of the post is the W-II from early August...She had been staying with friends over on the Island while C was away and I went over to pick her up as a foot passenger on one of those boomerang 'get-off-the-ferry/pick-up-the-dog-and-get-right-back-on-the-ferry' trips...Thus, this is her up at the front on the upper car deck, where both people and pets are allowed, on one of the KrautRock ferries (back when both were operating) gazing out at the Salish Sea...Yesterday it was e. who took her up to hang out on  the upper deck...
Finally, make sure you head on over to Norm Farrell's place to read his latest titled, 'BC Hydro's Credibility Gap'...


Thursday, August 31, 2023

Seven Trillion.


From the notoriously commie, pinko, lefty, tree-hugging folks over at the International Monetary Fund:

Fossil-fuel subsidies surged to a record $7 trillion last year as governments supported consumers and businesses during the global spike in energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic recovery from the pandemic.

As the world struggles to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and parts of Asia, Europe and the United States swelter in extreme heat, subsidies for oil, coal and natural gas are costing the equivalent of 7.1 percent of global gross domestic product...

To put that seven trillion in perspective...

It is far, far more more than all of the governments in all of the world spent on education  last year.

Imagine that!

TipOTheToque to Greg Fingas and his fantastic links page which is a daily scan for me...
It's all BC Ferries all the time for us this week...We were on the Sunshiney/Smokey Coast on the weekend for a very nice family wedding. Then, yesterday, I rented a UHaul and came over to Victoria (littler e. is coming back to Central Lotusland!)...Will be returning later today before C. and I, and the Wackadoodle II, too, come right back again tomorrow for the last long weekend and Grandpop's birthday...Our Ferry Service has taken it on the chin this summer and, while I still have an issue with how and why those Fun, Fun On The Autobahn boats were procured, I have to say that it has been smooth sailing for us so far (fingers crossed)...


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

A Potemkin-Produced Interview's Real Numbers.


Following up on our previous post re: the good Mr. Elon Musk's true number of followers on his disintegrating social media village, the following is by Matt Binder writing at Mashable:

On Wednesday night (August 23rd), former Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed former president Donald Trump on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Now, Trump and his supporters are claiming that Carlson's video has received hundreds of millions of views on Elon Musk's social media site...


...Trump later claimed that, at 230 million views, the Carlson video was now: "The Biggest Video on Social Media, EVER, more than double the Super Bowl!"...


...Mashable can report that, as of the publication of this article on Thursday evening (August 24th), Carlson's Trump interview has received 14.8 million video views on X...


Where does the massive, totally made-up, fudge factor come in?

Mr. Binder explains:

...The views metric currently shown on X, displayed simply as "views," are tweet views.

This number shows how many impressions a tweet receives. An impression is counted when a user actively goes to the tweet page or when a tweet appears in a user's timeline after being retweeted by another user. Views are also counted whenever a tweet shows up on a user's timeline. As such, a single user can be counted multiple times in the view count.

On the other hand, video views, which are no longer publicly displayed on X, count the number of times a piece of media content is played on the platform —although there are a few addendums to this metric. A video view on X is counted if the media plays for two or more seconds. And, if a user attempts to scroll past a video, but more than 50 percent of the player is still visible on the screen for that time frame, a video view is still counted. Autoplays are counted as well.

To break down what this means for Tucker Carlson's Trump interview: The video itself was actually played only 14.8 million times, for at least two seconds of the more than 46-minute interview — or just over six percent of the total 236 million times someone saw the post on X...

Of course, for many of those actual 'real' viewers, two seconds with Mr. Trump and his most recent willing propagandist are more than enough.

Much more.


Image at the top of the post...Mr. Trump with a previous willing propagandist.
Subheader's true origin story?...This.


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

An Online Village Known As Potemkin-X?

Potemkin Village:

...Something that is made to seem very grand, elaborate, or prosperous for the purposes of impressing others, but which in reality has no real worth or substance. Taken from a story about Russian minister Grigory Potemkin (1739–1791),who allegedly erected false, painted façades to mimic a thriving, successful village along the Dnieper River in Crimea to impress the visiting Empress Catherine II...


In his recent in-depth profile of Elon Musk, published in the New Yorker, Ronan Farrow describes how the good Mr. Musk's position on the war in Ukraine evolved over time until, finally...

...In (his)later tweets, Musk portrayed as inevitable an outcome favoring Russia and attached maps highlighting eastern Ukrainian territories, some of which, he argued, “prefer Russia.” Musk also polled his Twitter followers about the plan. Millions responded, with about sixty per cent rejecting the proposal. (Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s President, tweeted his own poll, asking users whether they preferred the Elon Musk who supported Ukraine or the one who now seemed to back Russia. The former won, though Zelensky’s poll had a smaller turnout: Musk has more than twenty times as many followers.)...


Here's the thing.

Mashable recently commissioned an analysis of Mr. Musk's 'followers' on his X-Village Platform formerly known as Twitter:

...Of the 153,209,283 X accounts following Musk at the time the data was collected, around 42 percent of Musk's followers, or more than 65.3 million users, have zero followers on their own account. Just over 72 percent, or nearly 112 million, of these users following Musk have less than 10 followers on their account.

When it comes to content creation on the platform, more than 62.5 million Musk followers have zero tweets...


 ... More than 100 million Musk followers have less than 10 tweets posted to their account...


 ...Musk has recently claimed that X now has more than 540 million "monthly users." If accurate, that means more than 25 percent of accounts on the platform follow Musk. And if those numbers are inflated, it means that even a larger percentage of the entire platform follows Musk. With a huge swath of Musk's 153 million followers not using the platform or perhaps not real, it seems a good portion of X's overall user base may not be so active either.

Imagine that!


Monday, August 21, 2023

E-Bikes And Me.


My brother the retired fire guy and my sister-in-law the retired teacher each has one.

Mostly, they take them on trips so that they can park their camper van and use them to tour all over the place.

They love them.


C., my wife, has one.

Mostly she uses it to go to the market, and knitting, and various other sundry places in our part of Lotusland, travelling pretty much all the while on bike routes.

She loves it.


Me I do not have one.

And it is not because I would not enjoy riding such a thing pretty much everywhere.

It's just that once I get one I know that will pretty much be the end of real peddling for me.


For the foreseeable future (and/or until my knees finally give out) elderly ladies will continue to blast past me going up that damnable 16th avenue hill every morning.


Truth be told, most mornings I actually go up that damnable hill on 12th...It's almost straight up but the trade is that it is much shorter.


Friday, August 18, 2023

If A Sweaty And Rat-Like Wingnut's Biography Falls In The Forest...


   ...Will Anybody Read?

A biography of Tucker Carlson written by an acolyte was published recently.

It has not been selling well:

Like anyone promoting a book, the general plan is to create buzz, get people talking and, hopefully, get them buying. While people might be talking about Tucker, a new biography by Chadwick Moore about former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the buzz apparently failed to translate to book sales...


 ...According to numbers provided by Publisher’s Weekly, Tucker, in its first week of release, sold just 3,227 hardcover copies...


Why might that be?

Well, there is the fact that the Murdoch family threw the good Mr. Carlson off their propaganda network a few months ago which just might have decreased the former bowtie guy's visibility with the MAGA-crowd he so desperately and cynically courts, full-time, these days.

And then, of course, there is the matter of how little that particular crowd actually reads.


There just might be something else at work here.

Mike, our favourite microbiologist, mad or otherwise, explains:

...When conservatives in good standing publish books, conservative institutions, such as think tanks, buy a ton of copies (and give them away) to juice sales numbers. Right now, I don’t think Carlson is in particularly good standing, and so no rich foundation, think tank, or billionaire is buying a bunch of his books.

 Essentially, Carlson('s biography) is competing in the market, and (it) is losing...


To re-cap.

No wingnut welfare, no sales.

Imagine that!

Why the pejorative in the header?...Well, 'sweaty and rat-like' is precisely how the good Mr. Carlson described Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky during his very first 'broadcast' on the Twittmachine after the Murdochs kicked him to the curb...


Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Green, Green Belts Of Mr. Ford's Cronies' Homes.


From the lede of David Moscrop's excellent TVO piece on the Ford government's corrupt greenbelt giveaway:

If there was ever a doubt that corruption is a constitutive element of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s report into its dodgy Greenbelt dealings ought to put that uncertainty to rest. Indeed, the government is something more than corrupt. There’s corruption. There’s utter corruption. And then there’s funnelling more than $8 billion to your developer buddies and party donors through land swaps in the bright light of day and expecting to get away with it...

And how did the good premier of Ontario respond to the revelations in the AG's report?


..(I)n a Wednesday (August 9th) press conference, Ford continued to spin the plan as part of its affordability, housing, and growth plan even while he admitted the process was flawed, for which he took “full responsibility.”...

Which means what, exactly?


Want to listen rather than read?

The CBC's daily 'Front Burner' podcast, which I find to be both solid and eclectic overall, has a good episode on this topic.

In this specific episode host Jayme Poisson talks to Fatima Syed who writes for the Narwhal (and whose work on this 'story' was singled out as exemplary by the Ontario AG in her presser on the report).



I realize that there has been a big blast of hot media air on all things 'The Band' in the wake of the recent passing of Robbie Robertson.

But most of that hot air was so superficial that it just bounced of the surface of the thing.


If you want depth, have a listen to Andrew Hickey's fantastic podcast on the history of the group, including how they all came to be working for pretty much peanuts for Ronnie Hawkins, how legendary Canadian A&R impresario Mary Martin brought the then 'Hawks' to Albert Grossman's, and ultimately, Dylan's attention, and how the musical genre that would become 'Americana' was birthed in the basement of that big pink house in Woodstock New York,

Another fantastic anecdote from Hickey's podcast...The Band purposefully worked to make their harmonies as loose as possible so that, unlike, say,  the Beach Boys and the Beatles, their individual voices would stand out rather than blend in.

Imagine that!

Episode 167: “The Weight” by The Band


Monday, August 14, 2023

Sunday Set...August 13, 2023


I will soon be sixty-four years old.

And in the last two weeks I went to two rock shows.

And, truth be told, I'm pretty darned proud that it was not to see other creaking olds crank out their long, gone golden oldie radio hits.


It was littler e. who invited me to the first show to see three hip young kids called 'boygenius', who are hot enough at the moment that they got the Nardwuar treatment, shown above, when they came to town.

I was touched that she invited me, pretty close to the oldest guy of certain persuasion, to be there in the crowd, albeit at a safe, comfortable distance sitting out on the PNE Amphitheatre bleachers far from the truly madding crowd in front of the stage.

I cover one of the band's tunes, a favourite of mine from their pre-fame first EP times, Ketchum, ID, on this week's Sunday Set of lullaby(ish) tunes.

The second show I went to see was at the Orpheum with the whole family and two very different crowds, almost completely Venn diagram separated. One crowd was there to see the triumphant return to Vancouver by a stroke-recovered Lucinda Williams. The other crowd was there to see a gaggle of millennial Brooklyn-transplants, Big Thief.

Ms. Williams hit the stage to play brand new tunes of a rocking variety before she talked a little about the back story of 'Drunken Angel' that was based on Blaze Foley and the other outlaws of country from days of Austin Texas yore, including Townes Van Zandt,  As such, another tune covered in this week's lullaby set is Townes' classic 'Pancho and Lefty.'

There are a couple of other old ones thrown in amongst the set's lullabies, one tune from early '90's Uncle Neil that was released at a time that was really important for C. and me as well as a classic from Mr. Springsteen's most stripped down, non-commercial album that turned out to be prescient about all that was turn out to be bleak and scary about Ronald Reagan's America...

I don't have a Big Thief cover tune for you yet...
Mostly because Adrianne Lenker's emotionally evocative singing and occasionally explosive electrical guitar shredding both surprised and blew me away...I guess you might say that I'm smack, dab in the middle of that Orpheum Venn diagram...
I've got to say...both COVID and creeping old(er) age helped me to (almost) forget just how invigorating and inspiring going to live music can be...