Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Why Voting, And The Legislation That Follows, Matters.


The above is a graphic from the Financial Times, based on data accumulated by Mother Jones.

The red line, which was added by Brian Tyler Cohen, marks the date when Republicans ended the assault weapons ban in the United States.

Of course other things that could have been added to the header of this post are money, lobbying, complicit media outlets, and a certain 'association'.

And do not, for one minute, think that those three things are not at work, in some variation of the forms, above the 49th parallel also.



Monday, March 27, 2023

A Point Worth Considering.


Doug Saunders is an international affairs columnist with the Globe and Mail.

Thomas Juneau is a faculty member in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.

While they are talking about how it is important to deal with this at the governmental/legislative level, I think it is also a point that we all should consider when going about our business with our fellow Canadians:



Back On My Desktop...Like A Bad Penny You Can't Get Rid Of.



Perhaps more to the point, like a cockroach that can neither be caught nor killed off (metaphorically, of course).

William Raushbaum et al. have that story in today's failing New York Times:

The former publisher of The National Enquirer testified on Monday before the Manhattan grand jury hearing evidence about Donald J. Trump’s role in a hush-money payment to a porn star, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The publisher, David Pecker, also testified in January, soon after the grand jury was impaneled by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg. The grand jury has heard from at least nine witnesses — including Mr. Pecker, who has gone in twice — and is expected to vote on an indictment soon...

I spoke about Mr. Pecker and his potential role(s) in the Trump/Daniels/Legal Fee case in yesterday's audioblog.

Essentially, Pecker is the architect of many a 'catch and kill' operation wherein people's stories are bought up to bury them so that various and sundry 'celebrities' are not embarrassed. There has also been the whiff of back-end strong arming to boot.

But here's the thing...

In this specific case it appears that the good Mr. Pecker and his right hand man, a fine fellow named Dylan Howard went to Mr. Trump's then lawyer, the estimable Michael Cohen, and told him that he should be the bagman for the Daniels operation.

Hmmm...Wonder why?

Anyway, the discussion of other potential Pecker, Inc. catch and kill operations designed to shield good name of the double plus ungood Mr. Trump comes up at the 38 min mark of said audioblog, here...


Sunday, March 26, 2023

What's On My Desktop?...Audioblog for March 26, 2023.


Once again, things started piling up on my desktop and, instead of writing all about it, I just sat down and babbled on awhile...

Here's the source material for most of said babbling:

Dan Fumano's Vancouver Sun piece from last October on the transition team behind the new regime at Vancouver city hall.

David Moscrop, writing in Jacobin, explaining why Canada needs more public housing not more renting.

Christopher Patterson and Lance Barrie in The Tyee/The Conversation making the case for the 15 minute city...Oxford, in the UK, explains its 'traffic filters' here.

More on the former guy's 'catch and kill'  grand master/mobsterish flash strategy to deal with potentially damaging stories, based on a 2018 piece in Vox by Andrew Prokop and Dylan Matthews.

You get a peerage!...And you get a peerage!...And you get a peerage!...Explained by Rowena Mason in The Guardian.

Uncle Neil tries to do what Pearl Jam couldn't when it comes to the ripping off of patrons when it comes to concert tickets...Ben Beaumont-Thomas, also in the Guardian, has that story....And, yes, that's Neil in Victoria a few weeks ago, singing for old growth forests, above.

Joyce Johnson, in Vanity Fair from 2007, on the night Jack Kerouac first read the New York Times review of the just published (and highly edited) version of 'On the Road' that changed his life for good (and bad?). 

Scott Simon speaking to the soon to retire Sylvia Poggioli on NPR's 'Weekend Edition Saturday'.

And a couple of new (to me at least) musical picks...Katy Kirby and The Beths.

Front and back, old guys reminiscing song snippets are from a cover of M. Ward's 'O'Brien's Nocturne'.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

What If Al Capone Had Convinced America That Tax Evasion Is Not A Crime?


From Daniel Porazzo's chronology of the Capone trial:


What's it all about this time Alfie?

Well, Amanda Marcotte notes the ways in which it appears that the prosecutor in the Stormy Daniels capture and kill hush money (and then claim the cost as a legal expense, allegedly) case looks to be vacillating in the face of the usual suspect's social media bombast that has been backed (and massively amplified) by wall-to-wall CorpMedia coverage:

...What’s frustrating is there’s reason to worry (District Attorney Alvin) Bragg is balking (at indicting Donald Trump). Despite all his chest-thumping about how he won’t be intimidated, Bragg is suddenly finding all sorts of reasons not to move forward to indictment. First he canceled the Wednesday grand jury meeting. Then, when they reconvened, he pivoted to another, unrelated case, pausing the hush money inquiry, quite possibly indefinitely...

Only time, and the rampaging herd of rabid cable news network 'legal experts', will tell I suppose.

Who the heckfire is Mabel Walker Willebrandt, you may be asking?....Well, in the roaring twenties, back when mobsters ruled the US'ian prohibition roost with machine guns and bomb-backed impunity, Ms. Walker was the Assistant Attorney General known as 'Prohibition Portia' who came up with the quite successful 'follow the (taxable) money' strategy...Her life story is really something.


Friday, March 24, 2023

The Internet Archive Is Under Attack.


Most of us, especially reader NVG, who use the Internet Archive use the Wayback Machine which allows you to fight link rot and figure out exactly what was originally uploaded to the tubes.

But the Archive is much more than that:

We began in 1996 by archiving the Internet itself, a medium that was just beginning to grow in use. Like newspapers, the content published on the web was ephemeral - but unlike newspapers, no one was saving it. Today we have 26+ years of web history accessible through the Wayback Machine and we work with 1,000+ library and other partners through our Archive-It program to identify important web pages.

As our web archive grew, so did our commitment to providing digital versions of other published works. Today our archive contains: 

Anyone with a free account can upload media to the Internet Archive. We work with thousands of partners globally to save copies of their work into special collections...

And now, as you might expect, the Archive is under attack from the Mr. Potters and Greedheads of the publishing world who just can't fathom why someone should be allowed to do something of value that they can't get their hands on for their own aggrandizement:

The Internet Archive, a nonprofit library in San Francisco, has grown into one of the most important cultural institutions of the modern age. What began in 1996 as an audacious attempt to archive and preserve the World Wide Web has grown into a vast library of books, musical recordings and television shows, all digitized and available online, with a mission to provide “universal access to all knowledge.”

Right now, we are at a pivotal stage in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive, still pending, brought by four of the biggest for-profit publishers in the world, who have been trying to shut down core programs of the archive since the start of the pandemic...

In other words, anything that is good, especially if it enhances the public good, and is free of the profit motive must be destroyed to ensure that we, the public, don't start to demand such good things, unfettered and greed-free.


Thursday, March 23, 2023

About Time...


The following is the lede from front page piece in today's The Washington Post by Casey Parks, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement:

Transgender Americans experience stigma and systemic inequality in many aspects of their lives, including education, work and health-care access, a wide-ranging Washington Post-KFF poll finds.

Many have been harassed or verbally abused. They’ve been kicked out of their homes, denied health care and accosted in bathrooms. A quarter have been physically attacked, and about 1 in 5 have been fired or lost out on a promotion because of their gender identity. They are more than twice as likely as the population at large to have experienced serious mental health struggles such as depression.

Yet most trans adults say transitioning has made them more satisfied with their lives.

“Living doesn’t hurt anymore,” said TC Caldwell, a 37-year-old Black nonbinary person from Montgomery, Ala. “It feels good to just breathe and be myself.”...


As PZ Myers noted:

"About time a national paper was brave enough to say it."


Especially that part in red, above.

Non-musical ear worm in the subheader?...This.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Fantasy Baseball At The End Of The World (John Samson-Fellows Cover)


Mr. Samson Fellows (previously known as John K. Samson to many) wrote this tune in the late 'teens back when the previous US'ian president was still raging, full throttle.

Luckily for all of us, for awhile there the former guy seemed to recede into the background.

But now he's back, hoping like heckfire that the threat of indictments to come will whip his base into a frenzy that will turn Americans against each other in the streets and re-open the fundraising spigots, full blast, once again.

Thus, I figured Mr. Sampson Fellows' brilliant song song of despair, hope and resolve could do with a wee bit of a tweak.

Here's my cover(ish) version...


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Jean Chr├ętien Isn't The Only Canadian Who Did The Right Thing In 2003.


There was also that Lotuslandian, then currently living and plying his trade in Dallas, Texas.

The following is from a piece by Dave Zirin, writing in the Nation in the fall of 2014, on the eve of Steve Nash's imminent retirement:

...(I)t is difficult to remember just how deafening the political quietude was back in 2003. While several million people converged on New York City to say no to what we then called “Bush’s war,” the sports world institutionally, from team owners to media puff pieces, was a center of unquestioned patriotism. For people who only read the sports page, and stay off the front page, being confronted with dissenting views was a non-option.

Into this stifling atmosphere came Steve Nash, then with the Dallas Mavericks, showing up at the 2003 All-Star game wearing a T-shirt that read, “No war. Shoot for peace.” When challenged by a shocked press corps, Nash said, “I think that war is wrong in 99.9 percent of all cases. I think [Operation Iraqi Freedom] has much more to do with oil or some sort of distraction, because I don’t feel as though we should be worrying about Iraq.”

He leveled a tragically prescient statement to the powers that be, saying, “I think that Saddam Hussein is a crazy dictator, but I don’t think he’s threatening us at this point in time. We haven’t found any nuclear weapons—no matter what anyone says—and that process is still under way. Until that’s finished and decided I don’t think that war is acceptable.”

Nash did not say that Bush, Cheney and Condoleezza Rice were just mistaken, but actually had very nefarious, and ulterior motives, stating, “Unfortunately, this is more about oil than it is about nuclear weapons.” Nash also took issue with the pro-war media. Two years before The New York Times and The Washington Post apologized publicly for their craven, utterly embedded pro-war coverage, Nash said, “I think a lot of what we hear in the news is misleading and flat-out false, so I think it’s important for us to think deeper and find out what is really going on.”

Nash also did not buckle when Mavs owner Mark Cuban—who fancies himself as a renegade free-thinker—came down on Nash for his views. The Canadian citizen also did not budge when then Spurs center David Robinson said, “If it’s an embarrassment to [Nash] maybe [he] should be in a different country.”...

Tip 'O The Toque to Cathie from Canada for the reminder of Mr. Nash past.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Cruise Ship Crisis Averted, Allegedly.


Remember back in the heart of the pandemic when the usual suspects 'round here were lighting their hair on fire because the premier of the day wouldn't/couldn't force the feds to get rid of rules that prevented massive floating petrie dishes from landing in Lotusland while legislators in Alaska were passing laws that allowed said dishes to sail straight from Seattle to Anchorage without a stop in British Columbia?

If you can't quite remember all those burning sticks of epidermally produced keratin, here's a sampling straight from the bonfire, written by the Dean of the Legislative Press Gallery in a Vancouver Sun column published on September 15, 2021:

...Horgan’s last line of defence is that cruise ship operators will include B.C. ports in their itineraries even if they are not obliged to do so in U.S. law.

Maybe. But the premier has been wrong at every turn...


That was then and this is now, as per the lede of Derrick Penner's stenography piece published this past weekend in the VSun:

The arrival of Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess at the Canada Place cruise terminal on April 12 will be symbolic of a hoped-for continuation of tourism’s rebound in Vancouver.

It will be the first of what the Port of Vancouver expects to be a record 331 cruise ship visits to the city in the 2023 season...

Imagine that!


Sunday, March 19, 2023

California Zephyr... (Hibbard/Farrar Cover)


The most recent Christmas shopping season not long past the two E's and I went shopping in downtown Victoria rather than along our usual route on the other side of the Salish Sea that stretches, pretty much on a line from Kitsalino to what was once 3-Vets down by Vancouver Police Headquarters.

So what you ask?

Well, because littler e. wanted to walk down Fort St. in downtown Victoria it meant that we stopped in at Russell Books.

Which, because Russell's has such a great selection of all kinds, meant that I was easily able to get the remaining books for gifts that I hadn't already found elsewhere.

And then I ran across Joyce Johnson, nee Glassman's, insightful tale of how Jack Kerouac's distinctly antagonistic dual personality traits could only truly be self-assuaged by his development of the spontaneous prose method that was spurred on with a little help from his friends and a truly insane work ethic. In the end this resulted in the continuous 1951 typewriter scroll manuscript that, a full six years later, after much editing and re-writing, would finally be published.

Glassman was with Kerouac in September of 1957 on the night he read Gilbert Millstein's New York Times review that helped to make him very famous, very fast after so many years trying. The image at the top of the post was taken of the two of them not long after.

Three years later, after sneaking into San Francisco, not in the passenger seat of a broken down Hudson driven by Neal Cassady, but instead in his own private roomette on the cross country California Zephyr passenger train, Kerouac, who was by then in his late thirties and a raging alcoholic, decided that he had to make one fast move or he would soon be gone.

So he headed down the coast to Big Sur.

Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard wrote and recorded an entire album about the novel that ensued.

Track one is 'California Zephyr'.

Here's my version...


Saturday, March 18, 2023

(Anti) March Madness!...The Roofball World Championship.


I enjoy March Madness as much as the next guy, but...

It's so frenetic and there are so many games, especially this weekend.


If you need a break and are looking for something a little more DIY that still has great production values, national anthems, post-game interviews and hot dogs, check out the 2023 Roofball World Championship coming to the entire globe from the pastoral streets of Beaverton Oregon.

If you need a primmer, check out the 2008 World Championships, above.

This year's event is being live streamed at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern today (but they will leave the stream up if you want to tune in, say, after all the college basketball is done).

Check it out - you won't be sorry (audio problems resolved at the 36 min. mark...but have no fear that still gives you a full 3 and 1/2 hours of the thrill of all victories and the not so agonizing defeats!).

I'm pretty sure both my brothers will really dig this.


Friday, March 17, 2023

The Craptacularists Behind The Woke Bank Codswallop.


It was cooked up in the fetid boiler rooms deep in the bowels of the Trumpiest of (anti) think tanks, the Claremont Institute.

It was then released by wingnut welfare-backed weasels like Charlie Kirk and the Supreme Court-stuffing Federalist Society before it moved on to Fox News and more 'serious' cable news outlets before it was finally smeared across the digital public prints in places like Newsweek.

And, to be absolutely clear, the 'it' under discussion is pure unadulterated codswallop, purposefully packaged and deliberately flung into the public consciousness where, even after it is fully discredited, it will stick just enough such that it can be re-used and recycled again and again and again to distract, deflect and disinform everyone concerned when the next crisis of confidence arises.

Josh Marshall, working and writing at Talking Points Memo, has the story and the receipts. Here's his lede:

According to stories bursting across the right-wing mediasphere today, a key reason for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was its focus on spreading “woke culture” rather than efficiently managing risk and profits. Ground zero for this is the allegation that SVB had donated over $73 million to the “BLM Movement & Related Causes.” That struck me as quite a lot of money for a single company, even a large and profitable one, to give to anycause or even all causes. So I tried to find out where this factoid came from and rapidly found my way to a Trumpist think tank. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s a complete lie...

Marshall then goes on to demonstrate that it all traces back to a bogus Claremont Institute database wherein contributions to, or monetary contracts entered into with, anyone or any institution that has any connection whatsoever to African Americans is a direct money funnel to 'Black Lives Matter' and urban rioting.

Which is why, in addition to Silicon Valley Bank, Bank of America is also in the craptacularists' database.


Because Bank of America does business with and gives things like mortgages to black people.

These really are some of the worst people in the world who are doing their darnedest to destroy liberal democracy as we know it.

And for what?

Image at the top of the post...Director of the Claremont Institute's 'Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence' John Eastman (yes, 'that' John Eastman) with Rudy Giuliani at Mr. Trump's pre-insurrection party on January 6, 2021.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

There's A (Fairly) New Menace On The Streets These Days...


This morning I had to ride down into the bowels of central Lotusland's hospital industrial complex to pick up a reagent from a colleague - an antibody, actually, that he thinks might help us further characterize a weird immune-type cell we are seeing in one of our experimental tumour progression assays.


Despite the fact it is bike route-lined, I normally avoid that chunk of West 10th Avenue at all costs given how congested it is, especially on weekdays.

And this morning I  almost smacked into a kid on one of those new-fangled electronic scooters after he swooped through the intersection and came around the corner at Heather St.

Man, those things are fast, silent and, potentially, deadly.

Be careful out there everybody!

Truth be told,
I had an even closer call a few weeks ago when I passed through my office door one evening and came face-to-face with one of those things as it came zipping, silently, down the hallway...As you might imagine whole lot of 'Get off my lawn/Get outta my building' - type old guy muttering under the breath, and even a wee bit of yelling, ensued...
Subheader earworm got hold of your auricles?...Of course...This!


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

What's Good For The Grift Is Also Good For.....America?


From Marcy Wheeler writing at Emptywheel:

Steve Bannon’s sometime partner Guo Wengui was arrested this morning on a sweeping indictment charging a $1 billion conspiracy, four sets of wire and security fraud charges each tied to a particularly business, as well as other money laundering charges.

It will take (me at least) some time to understand the full scope of the alleged behavior.

But for now, know that SDNY started seizing some of the proceeds of this fraud last year, and will now move to seize the yacht on which Bannon was arrested for his own fraud indictment...


Mr. Bannon's own indictment?

Gosh, what was that all about Alfie?

Former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon pleaded not guilty on Thursday (August 20, 2020) hours after being arrested on a luxury yacht for allegedly skimming donations from an online fundraising campaign for the president’s controversial border wall with Mexico.

Using a non-profit organization that he controlled, Bannon “received over $1m from the ‘We Build the Wall’ online campaign, at least some of which he used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in [his] personal expenses”, federal prosecutors in New York allege...

And then there was, and is, the following, from Dave Weigel writing at Semaphor about the latest version of the US'ian conservative bash known as 'CPAC':

...(T)he New Federal State of China, “declared” three years ago by Steve Bannon and exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, made its first CPAC appearance (in 2023) with a $75,000 sponsorship, and two high-tech booths where volunteers handed out leaflets and explained why the battle to destroy the CCP had to be won in America.

That isn’t hyperbole. “The elimination of the Chinese Communist Party is essential in breaking the shackles of slavery imposed on the Chinese people,” Bannon said at the 2020 ceremony launching the NFSC, “and also, in bringing about peace to the international community and all mankind.” Guo, citing “Chinese culture,” pricked his finger and signed the declaration with his blood.

The Bannon-Wengui partnership burst into the headlines before the 2020 election, when Bannon was arrested on Guo’s yacht on charges that were later superseded by a pardon from President Trump...


Perhaps Samuel Johnson was, indeed, right when he wrote, to obliquely reference Don Mclean, 'a long long time ago', that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

Or some such thing.

Image at the top of the post?...The good Mr. Bannon on the yacht in question, courtesy the London Economic.