Friday, December 02, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 2....A Christmas Card From Minneapolis.




He, or at least is persona, is still out there.

Getting weirder and more Bukowskian all the time.

See, for example, the snippet from Paul Thomas Anderson's latest movie, above.

Here is what the good Mr. Waits had to say about this advent tune quite a few years ago now:

"I was in Minneapolis – it was 200 degrees below zero,” he told a disbelieving New York crowd. “I know, you think I’m bullshitting, no, I swear to God, I was wearing just a bra and a slip and a kind of dead squirrel around my neck – he was colder than I was. The police cars would go by and they’d wave… merry Xmas, merry Xmas, merry Xmas."

"Anyway, I got caught in the middle of a pimp war between two kids in Chinchilla coats, they couldn’t have been more than 13 years old. They’re throwing knives and forks and spoons out into the street – it was deep – so I grabbed a ladle, and Dinah Washington was singing ‘Our Day Will Come’ and I knew that was it."

Here's the advent cover, with a whole lotta mimicry shakin' going on...Sorry about that.

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Thursday, December 01, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 1....Murder By Mistletoe.

TwentyFive
DaysVille


The idea of a homemade 'song a day'-type advent calendar/juke box came to me in late November a few years ago.

And when the holiday(ish)-themed tunes began they were, essentially, lullabies for our oldest kid who was half a continent away cramming for final exams at the time.

This year, our youngest kid is across the Salish Sea doing her own cramming and final paper writing.

So, here comes this year's first offering...

****


From a piece over at the popculturish 'Live Science' by Lily Norton:

...The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe started in ancient Greece, during the festival of Saturnalia and later in marriage ceremonies, because of the plant's association with fertility...

{snip}

...In Victorian England, kissing under the mistletoe was serious business. If a girl refused a kiss, she shouldn't expect any marriage proposals for at least the next year, and many people would snub their noses at her, remarking that she would most likely end up an old maid...


Yes, but can you actually commit murder by mistletoe?

Almost, maybe...

...(T)he plant contains toxic amines , and eating its berries can cause vomiting and stomach pain. In the past, mistletoe had been thought to be a cure for epilepsy and other ailments, but was proved false. In fact, mistletoe is probably more harmful than helpful: deaths have even been reported from drinking too much tea made from its berries.


All of which brings us to our Day 1 tune by Mr. Ian Felice...





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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

One Dollar Each.

ThisIsTheModernWorld
We'reLivingInVille


Last week we mentioned the following Tweet, posted by someone who bought one of Mr. Musk's blue checkmarks (since removed) for their PharmaCo parody site:



This spawned first joy and then an angry backlash against the real PharmaCo when folks learned it wasn't true.

As a result the real company apologized:


















What the real company did not do was apologize for the exorbitant price it charges patients, especially American patients, for its insulin-based products:

...A 2018 study from BMJ Global Health estimates the cost to produce a vial of insulin from between $2 for regular human insulin to less than $7 for newer analogs, like the Lispro analog Eli Lily produces. The list price for that analog is $274.70 per 10 mL vial...

{snip}

...The RAND Corporation 2018 study demonstrated that the cost of insulin to diabetics in the U.S. is generally five to 10 times higher than in the other OECD countries (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Where the 2018 average price per vial was less than $10 for other OECD patients, it was just under $100 for U.S. patients...


However, in the wake of the false parody tweet the CEO of the real company, Mr. David Ricks, did say that they were doing their best to make things better:

“It probably highlights that we have more work to do to bring down the cost of insulin for more people...{snip}...We’ve done tons of things, but it obviously hasn’t penetrated the clutter. We’re obviously not the only insulin company. But the tropes go on."


Tons of things?

How about trying to emulate one really big thing that happened almost one hundred years ago:

...On January 23, 1923, an American patent on both insulin and Toronto’s method of making it was awarded to Banting, Collip, and Best. For $1.00 to each, the three discoverers assigned their patent rights to the Board of Governors of the University of Toronto. The application had stressed that none of the other researchers in the past had been able to produce a nontoxic antidiabetic extract. A patent was necessary to restrict manufacture of insulin to reputable pharmaceutical houses who could guarantee the purity and potency of their products...


You read that correctly.

The discoverers of insulin sold off their patent for one dollar, each, to make sure things were done properly for patients.

In other words...

No need for 'tons' of anything whatsoever.



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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Phone-A-Fy!

ItsAllInYourHead
MrTweedyVille


Apparently, everyone is out to get the gazillionare:

Elon Musk has accused Apple of threatening to remove Twitter from its App Store without giving a reason to the social media platform.

Twitter’s new owner also said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on Twitter, prompting him to ask if the tech group hated free speech.


Musk revealed the potential App Store ban in a series of tweets on Monday. He tweeted: “Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.”...


So.

What will the leader of the Muskian Free World do if what he, himself, has prophesied comes to pass?

Why,  just like he once did with flame throwers and tunnel borers, the good Mr. Musk says he will make his own phone for the truly devoted:

















But here's the thing.

That has been tried before by those herding the flocks of the freedom aggrieved that Mr. Musk is now courting and it did not turn out so well:

The 22 year-old self-proclaimed "Bitcoin millionaire" Erik Finman in an interview with The New York Times described smartphones as "the ultimate political tools. Everyone has one in their pocket." His brand new Freedom Phone promises to prioritize "free speech and privacy"above anything else. You might assume that the Freedom Phone follows the trend of phone-makers like Apple that use software updates to make it harder for companies to track you. Finman's initial announcement for the Freedom Phone was followed swiftly by security concerns raised by numerous publications and privacy experts...

{snip}

...If you're looking for a phone that protects your privacy, look elsewhere. The Freedom Phone raises a lot of red flags. Initially the phone was supposed to run software called Freedom OS, which Finman claimed protects your privacy. It had an "uncensorable" app store called the PatriApp store that claims to feature apps banned by Big Tech. In the announcement video, Finman shows off a phone that is powered off and looks similar to a budget Chinese phone that sells for one-quarter of the Freedom Phone's $500 price...


Imagine that.


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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Road Regrets (D. Mangan Cover)


BricksOn
BricksVille



It's not just what Mr. Mangan makes, it's also the way he makes it.

He also has a great Substack too.




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Image at the top of the post and subheader?...See a recent post from Mangan in response to a question about one of his recent lyrical phrases.
This is one of those 'when in doubt Capo VI'  'wedge' songs for me...Bigger E. who should have no regrets, road or otherwise, will understand...As for littler e....Who knew she would turn me, the old guy, onto a pretty brilliant re-do of an old Nick Hornby (musically-adjacent) saw set where bricks are.

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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Speechify!


HollowedOutBeThy
NamePartDeuxVille



It appears that a whole bunch of Mr. Musk's top revenue generators in birdland have flown the coop, as reported by Halisia Hubbard of NPR:

Half of Twitter's top 100 advertisers appear to no longer be advertising on the website. A report from Media Matters for America states that these 50 advertisers have spent almost $2 billion on Twitter ads since 2020 and more than $750 million just in 2022. 

Seven additional advertisers have slowed their advertising to almost nothing, according to the report, which was published on Tuesday. These companies have paid Twitter more than $255 million since 2020...


And why have the advertisers done this?

Fear of a massive backlash from the howling bowels of Wokeistan?

Perhaps.

Fear of their money vaporizing without a trace as the entire coop goes up in flames?

Maybe.

But it looks like the whole 'freedom-to-buy-blue-checks-and-say-whatever-you-want' within the coop's algorithm amplification machinery can have real world consequences:

...Eli Lilly and Co. stopped showing ads on Twitter the day after an account impersonating the pharmaceutical company — complete with a purchased blue check mark — posted, "We are excited to announce insulin is free now."

Eli Lilly asked Twitter to take it down, but the tweet remained up for hours, because the platform's staff was stretched thin due to recent layoffs and resignations. The tweet garnered hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes, and Eli Lilly's stock soon took a dive...


Imagine that!



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Image at the top of the post....Best and Banting...True innovators whose story is really something.


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Friday, November 25, 2022

Projectify!

HollowedOutBe
ThyNameVille


From that very fine fellow who seems to induce a quasi-religious fervour in a goodly portion of his (alleged) one hundred and eighteen million followers:


Sure thing.

Except for, you know...

...We provide quantitative evidence from a long-running, massive-scale randomized experiment on the Twitter platform that committed a randomized control group including nearly 2 million daily active accounts to a reverse-chronological content feed free of algorithmic personalization...

{snip}

...Our results reveal a remarkably consistent trend: In six out of seven countries studied, the mainstream political right enjoys higher algorithmic amplification than the mainstream political left. Consistent with this overall trend, our second set of findings studying the US media landscape revealed that algorithmic amplification favors right-leaning news sources...


And who wrote the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December of 2021, quoted from above?

Woke academics hiding high atop a social science tower made of pressed ivory soap suds?

No...

Mercenary trolls housed in a Soros-funded bunker deep beneath Left Blogistan?

Not them either...

Because, actually...

It was researched and written by folks from Twitter itself (mostly):



Imagine that!


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Voting For The Bluest Of Programs In A Deep Red State.


We'reNotInKansasAnymore
ThomasFrankTurnedInsideOutVille


The voters of South Dakota might never elect a Democrat to a state-wide office ever again.

However they will happily ignore the blather of the Republican officials they have elected and vote for a big government democratic program that helps them and theirs:

South Dakota voters on Tuesday approved a measure to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

The program, which takes effect in July and is expected to cover more than 40,000 people, passed with about 56 percent support.

The Republican-controlled state, where lawmakers have long resisted Medicaid expansion, is the seventh in the last five years to do so at the ballot box...


Imagine that!



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Thomas Frank wrote
the book 'What's the Matter With Kansas' awhile back in which he asked why folks in that fair state appeared to keep voting against their own best interests over and over and over again.




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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Of Mice And (Not) Men.


NeitherLenny
NorGeorgeVille



There is tag line that is often used derisively to comment on over-hyped biomedical research reports of a pre-clinical nature.

That line is:

"...In mice."



The point being that early stage biomedical research has not yet been demonstrated in humans where the ultimate result is often very different or, most often, not as impressive in real world conditions where all extraneous variables cannot be tightly controlled for.

Which, of course (institutional PR machinations aside), is actually the way things should work in that first you must demonstrate proof-of-principle with pre-clinical experiments, many of which are often carried out in mice, before you can even start to think about moving on to clinical testing where the first hurdle is safety followed by accuracy and efficacy.

In the case of the Theranos debacle, the details of the pre-clinical work are, to put it charitably, fuzzy. More importantly, the folks running the place never demonstrated any clinical safety, accuracy or efficacy, whatsoever.

In fact, when it came right down to it the Theranos braintrust, as the courageous whistleblower Erica Cheung detailed, deliberately masked safety concerns, inaccuracies and lack of efficacy by removing and/or ignoring data generated by their 'technology' that they did not like (or did not match that produced by proven machines).

Ultimately, the result was the following:

...“There were over a million (blood) tests that patients had which were fraudulent”, said Eric Topol, a cardiologist and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute (La Jolla, CA, USA), where he is a professor of molecular medicine. “That is the most egregious part.”...


These fraudulent tests led to real world/real patient consequences, a small sample of which were detailed at the trial of Elizabeth Holmes:

...During the 15 week trial, 29 witnesses took the stand, but only three were patients or doctors. Two witnesses testified about getting Theranos tests that incorrectly detected HIV/AIDS and prostate cancer. A third person testified that a Theranos blood test she took at an Arizona Walgreens pharmacy showed a high level of a hormone indicating she was having a miscarriage. When the test was repeated twice by a different laboratory, the results showed that her pregnancy was still viable...


Now.

It is important to understand that Ms. Holmes', who this week was sentenced to serious jail time, was not officially convicted of defrauding or harming patients.

Instead, she was officially convicted of defrauding a bunch of rich people that she bamboozled into investing shovels full of money in her fraudulent company with its fraudulent technology that should have never been used for real world patient diagnostic purposes in the first place.

Personally, I choose to recognize the 'unofficial' verdict based on the defrauding of the real world patients.


________
Personally, I also found all the media reports
 that pegged this as a 'Silicon Valley story' where it was common to 'fake it till you make it' extremely egregious. This was not first faking and then ultimately making  a better way to stream a movie or book a vacation home. This was about patient diagnosis where fakery cannot ever be tolerated.
Ms. Cheung's story is a truly amazing and even more truly courageous one...Tyler Shultz, who was the grandson of one of the rich investors, also did the right thing. However, given his family situation Mr. Shultz was never left hanging over the edge like Ms. Cheung was, especially when the Theranos-hired lawyers and PI's started to come after them for speaking the truth.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

(Not So) OK, Boomer (Anymore).


Traps'RUs
HobbesianVille


In my opinion, one of the more insightful columnists writing about the passing parade in greater Lotuslandia is Jody Paterson.

A couple of weeks ago Ms. Paterson's blog came back to life and, most recently, she wrote about how her generation, which is also mine, has no stories about how bad things were in their youth.

You know, those stories about playing hockey with frozen hunks of dung and/or going to school in a shoebox.

And why is that?

Because, as Ms. Paterson points out, we who grew up on the tail end of the post-war boom actually had it really, really good back in the days of yore:

"...It struck me the other day that the Boomer generation that I'm part of just might be the first generation in Canada whose own stories will instead be of how good they had it compared to their grandkids. 

Let me tell ya, kid, back in my day we had houses for people. We didn't even have a word for homelessness, and you camped for fun, not because it was that or nothing. We burned through natural resources like there was no tomorrow. (Turns out that last part was true.) 

Back in my day, we made real money, and if we hit a bad spell, could fall back on employment insurance that actually covered most of a person's bills. We had doctors. Weather was just weather, not an ominous portent of end of days..."


I would add that we of a certain age also had a good post-secondary education available to us at a cost of almost nothing at all.*

The larger point?

There really was a concerted class levelling that went on in these here parts back in the '60's and '70's that expanded possibilities for everyone.

Which brings me to a recent piece in Jacobin by David Moscrop, whose stuff I also have a lot of time for, about how the majority of Canadians these days don't trust, essentially, anyone:

"...Beyond political and media institutions, social cohesion is also thin in Canada — and trending downward. In March, Ipsos found that “only 30% of adults say most people can be trusted against 70% who believe that you can’t be too careful dealing with people.” Once again, the data is conditioned by education and income level — those with more education and income trust one another more..."

So.

Why is that (part deux)?

Well, Mr. Moscrop, who is a young guy, thinks that in large part this is because folks today have lost or will never see any of those nice, and truly important, things that we Boomers had when we were young:

"...Polite Canadian society encourages the wringing of one’s hands about low trust. It makes for good columns and think pieces, fascinating TV and radio, and endless polls and reports. Evidently, all of this fretting is for nothing, because the arc of trust is bending toward its antithesis despite the consternation of elites. It’s not surprising. The market economy and class are rarely discussed when trust is the topic of conversation, even if everyone will skirt around the issue that plainly sits right in the middle of the room. Come on, people. It’s a class issue. It’s an economic issue. And the origin of low trust, and thus its deleterious manifestations, is a political failure by those who run government and shape the economy. The origin of low trust is decades of capitalist depredation and the thinning out of the state in such a way that working people have been left to fend for themselves in a Hobbesian state of struggle..."


I, for one, think he just might be right.


______
*Longtime reader EG and I have discussed this point before...My first year as an undergraduate student cost me $540. As a result, those of us who went to school at that time could quite easily finance university with summer jobs alone or, at worst, with small student loans that didn't cripple us financially until we reached middle age or beyond (the latter was C.'s situation).


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Monday, November 21, 2022

COP-27...Look Under The (5th) Big W.


It'sAMadMadMad
MadWorldVille


From George Monbiot's lede, in the Guardian, on the failure of the recent COP-27 meeting to do anything whatsoever:

...So how have heads of government chosen to use this miracle (of life on earth)? ...

{snip}

...They have chosen to do nothing. Nothing that has a realistic chance, in this contest of probabilities, of changing our trajectory. They had a choice at the Cop27 meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh of defending the habitable planet or appeasing their sponsors. 

They went with the sponsors...


So.

Given all that.

And given that, as Mr. Monbiot points out, it has been going on like that for the last fifty years straight, it's pretty hard not to ask yourself why.

As in...

Why does this keep happening?

There are more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists at the Cop27 climate conference, a rise of more than 25% from last year and outnumbering any one frontline community affected by the climate crisis.

There are 636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industries registered to attend the UN event in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. At Glasgow, the figure was 503, which outnumbered the delegation of any single country. This year the only country with a larger delegation is the United Arab Emirates, hosts of Cop28 next year, which has 1,070 registered delegates, up from 176 last year...


In other words the lunatics, errrr, 'sponsors' are running the asylum.

And, of course, it is in their best interests that the quo stays status as long as carbonly possible.


______
Re: Header...The five 'W's' of journalism are who, what, when, where and why...
As for the image at the top of the post...That's the gang looking for the pot of gold under the 'Big W' in 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'
And, while Canada may not quite be the UAE when it comes to rolling around in petro dollars 24/7, we, too, took our share of 'sponsors' along for the ride.


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Sunday, November 20, 2022

O'Brien's Nocturne (M. Ward Cover)

 


1989 was a very good year for C. and me.

One thing I don't mention in the bit of blather after the tune was that it was also around this time that we got hooked on minor league baseball, thanks to all those free tickets that Stu Kehoe gave out, which stood us in good stead a few years later when we began our adventures in America...

Thursday, November 17, 2022

It's The Ratings, Stupid.

 

While Gil Scott-Heron may have been right about the revolution not being televised, that does not rule out the stupid.

Being televised, I mean. 

Especially if said stupid garners big time ratings.

To wit, here is the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan writing about why cable news in general, and CNN in particular, couldn't lay off the stupid back in the salad days of golden escalator rides, if not showers:

Just a few years ago, CNN seemed intent on giving Donald Trump as much help as possible for his (2016) presidential run.

The network obsessively covered the candidate’s raucous speeches in the Republican presidential primary. It treated his campaign like entertainment, rather than a prelude to autocracy. It ran chyrons like “Breaking News: Standing By for Trump to Speak” over footage of an empty stage and hired Trump loyalists such as Corey Lewandowski and Kayleigh McEnany as talking heads to boost his reputation...

{snip}

... (Then CNN boss Jeff) Zucker and Trump shared a common goal: TV ratings.

Trump, quite accurately, has called himself a “ratings machine.” The endless media attention he has commanded is a testament to that.

And Zucker? A former NBC executive once called him a “ratings whore.” A reporter who worked for him at CNN put it more genteelly, telling New York Times columnist Ben Smith that ratings were always the executive’s “North Star.”...


And it wasn't just the cables who were hooked on the money that Trump's ratings while spouting the stupid would make for them. It was the network's too as the late, great Eric Boehlert noted at the time (i.e. the spring of 2016):

...CBS executive chairman, president, and CEO Les Moonves recently insisted the Trump campaign "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS," adding, "Donald's place in this election is a good thing."....

****

But that was then and this is now.

From Digby, writing about how the cable networks dealt with a particularly stupid announcement earlier this week:

...The hand-picked Mar-a-Lago crowd was straining to stay engaged as Trump rambled on. First CNN cut away and then Fox News followed suit — MSNBC didn’t cover it at all — switching to their pundit panels even as he was still talking. That was when we finally got a glimpse of how this pseudo-event was going to be received by the media...


Hmmmm...

One can only wonder if Mr. Trump will take this latest development as a sign that the only way to get those ratings and networks back on his side is to ratchet the stupid up to, say, infinity.


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Sunday, November 13, 2022

HST Sunday...Bunglers, Swine Or Both?


YouMoveLikeACat
MartyVille

"There are a lot of people in this country - editors, congressmen and lawyers among others - who like themselves a lot better today for the way they reacted when the Watergate octopus got hold of them.

There are also a lot of people who got dragged down forever by it - which is probably just as well for the rest of us, because many of them were exposed as either dangerous bunglers, ruthless swine or both..."

Fear and Loathing In Washington: The Boys in the Bag.
Rolling Stone #164, July 4, 1974.


****

First, from the inner sanctum of the intellectual, hard-headed heart of the Murdoch family's media empire:


Second, from American conservatism's longtime media apologist-in-chief:




______
Subheader?...My favourite line from the bungled, but most certainly not dangerous 'Where The Buffalo Roam' wherein Thompson says it to the Wenner stand-in, played by Bruno Kirby, after yet another prank by the former that freaks out the latter.
Why no link to the Thompson piece still wholly owned by Jann Wenner?...Well, it turns out the king of the ten percenters has decided to put most of HST's stuff behind a paywall...Personally, I was more than happy to use that as an excuse to rifle through my dog-eared copy of 'The Great Shark Hunt'  (with the Bank of America ATM slip book mark, circa 1994), to find the above quote.



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Friday, November 11, 2022

Wheat Kings (Tragically Hip Cover)



Late breaking story on the CBC:

..."Even if David became prime minister, the day that David dies, the first line of his obituary is going to be 'David Milgaard, who spent 23 years in prison for a wrongful conviction and later went on to become Prime Minister"...

Sadly, Mr. Milgaard passed away earlier this year and his wrongful conviction and longterm inprisonment was, indeed, the first line of his obituary.

Still, it was good to read in pretty much every single one of his obits that Mr. Milgaard built a good life for himself and his loved ones despite all that we did to him.

Here's Gord Downie's lyrical and the band's musical version of Mr. Milgaard's story, written and first recorded thirty years ago now (which is really, really hard to believe)...

 

_______
Image at the top of the post?...The greatest junior hockey line I ever saw, the Brandon Wheat Kings' Ray Allison, Bill Derlago and Brian Propp, from back in the days (i.e. the late '70's) when I was still really paying attention.


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