Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Who Needs Year End Lists When You've Got Comments Like This?



I've been making muttered noises under my on-line breath about my next 'project' for quite a while now.

In fact, the Two E's (pictured above) and me have already slogged our way through a few warm-up sessions in preparation for it's imminent arrival, which we've decided to call 'Our Year of Busking Dangerously'.


As per usual, Paul Willcocks has been paying attention to all this guitar-whispering.

As a result, Paul left a comment downthread that flummoxed me because it says absolutely everything about why I want to give this thing a try.

And more:

"My partner got her busking licence last spring.

We had an accordion around last December, holding it for return to its rightful owner. She played - wronghanded for a while - then bought her own and played more and then took to the streets.

What she liked was that people enjoyed, but didn't watch like it was a recital. She also liked playing on docks and in parks by the water.

The best, I think, was on a spring road trip in the RV.

We hiked in Yosemite, then went to Death Valley. She headed into the desert at sunset to play. After a while, a father and grown son appeared out of the brush to listen. Their wife and mother had died 10 years earlier of cancer. She loved the desert, and they hadn't been able to come back to Death Valley until then. They had just scattered her ashes and then heard the accordion drifting on the wind and followed the sound. They stood and listened to three or four songs as the sun went down."



Heckfire, I don't want no stinking crowds.

Instead, I just want to play with my two kids before they get too old and/or too smart to partake in any of my ridiculous obsessions anymore.

I also want to have a chance, while strumming, throw them a smile and a not-so-all-knowing-wink while we strain to hit a harmony that only we can hear.

And if one single, solitary kindred spirit stops by to offer up a nod or even just a quick tap the toe for a moment or two before moving on.....


That will be the icing on the best homemade cake ever.


Update: Mr. Willcocks' partner, Jody Paterson has an Op-Ed piece in the the Victoria Times-Colonist today that just about says it all. I wrote the bit of flim-flammery above before I read Ms. Paterson's fantastic story of music and magic and the sheer joy of having your kids do it with you. Read her story, in full, here.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knock, Knock, Knockin' On Mic Christopher's Door


Mr. Christopher and Mr. Hansard 'Once' busked on Dublin's Grafton St in the old, and the not-so old, days. Before he died, tragically, in the fall of 2001, Mic, too, played at the Valmez campfire with the Irglovas and friends earlier that year.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

If You Could Go Back....


To those Red Brick-Walled Schoolyards of your youth...

To re-live them a little....

But mostly to tell those teachers that mattered most how much they really meant to you.

Could you possibly do that...

Any better....




If I could, I'd do that for Mrs. Griffiths in heartbeat.

Or less.

And if you want to hear about how Mr. Hansard really and truly met a very young Ms. Irglova by opening his art to her way before the opening of the hearts, listen to this. And if you want to see and hear a bit of both, watch this.
And with that, I'm off to the dogpark to begin Week 2 of my new project.....'My Year Of Busking Dangerously'...


Thursday, December 03, 2009

VANOC's 'Gentle' Reminder To Their Contracted Artists


Regarding VANOC's gag-clause on contracted artists that we mentioned a couple of days ago, here is the exact wording, from a recent editorial in the Edmonton Journal:

...."The artist shall at all times refrain from making any negative or derogatory remarks respecting VANOC (the organizing committee), the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement generally, Bell and/or other sponsors associated with VANOC."....

The depth and breadth of the censorship here is breathtaking.

Because it's not just the Olympics that cannot not be commented upon in either derogatory or 'negative' (wtf?) terms.

In addition, this makes it clear that no artist shall besmirch the Olympic movement 'generally'.

What the heckfire does that mean - no dissing ancient Athenians? Or Kip Keino's bare feet? Or Eddie the Eagle's glasses? Or the IOC's Supreme Sommander in, say, 1928?'

And 'Bell' and/or other 'sponsors' associated with VANOC?

Does that mean that if an artist, say, found a dead mouse in their bottle of soda that they not be allowed to comment on such an event 'negatively'.

But the real kicker here is that artists are also not allowed to say anything bad about the organizers themselves.....

What kind of crock is this? Is this supposed to protect VANOC from terrorists? From a drop in their stock price? From future earnings? From young kids in face paint who do impov while speaking "Ig-pay Atin-lay"?

This is truly insane.



In Marsha Lederman's original Globe piece, which broke this story originally, she quoted the VANOC/Cultural Olympiad program director thusly, after a contracted arts group suggested that there was a link between Olympic over-expenditures and massive cuts to provincial arts programs:

"We were a little surprised, but we didn't put any handcuffs on anybody. It was more a question of, is the artist still comfortable being a part of it."


If not handcuffs, what, exactly, did VANOC actually slap on the arts group concerned.

Well, here's the story according to the E. Journal editorial (which, we should point out, basically just expands on the original Lederman piece):

"....Radix Theatre, one of 12 companies performing in an Olympics event, had the temerity to criticize recent draconian, widely criticized arts funding cuts by the B.C. government. While celebrating HIVE, its Games event, it suggested that "massive overrides in Olympic expenditures" were arguably to blame for the recent government slashing, which is entirely possible.

That comment, contained in its newsletter, drew a self-described "gentle reminder" from VANOC about the need to keep commentary separate from the logo of the Cultural Olympiad...."


Radix received a 'gentle reminder' from the funding organization that is essentially the only game in town in the entire province of British Columbia for arts groups these days that was backed by the viscious little piece of multi-pronged censorship that it is explicit in the contract clause quoted above.

Given all that, was this 'reminder' not more like a 'gentle' tightening of the hang-man's noose around Radix' neck rather than a simple case of handcuffs being slapped on their wrists?

As for the rest of us?

Well, the E. Journal editorial put it this way in their lede:

"It seems like an awful relic from China's Cultural Revolution, but the sad truth is that government-imposed loyalty pledges are still in force. This week, artists have begun to protest contracts that muzzle them from uttering anything the leadership deems "negative." Is this Iran we're talking about?Myanmar? Somalia?

Actually, it's happening right now in Vancouver -- to Canadians secured to work in the Cultural Olympics festival of the 2010 Games......"

This is not a good thing.

It is not lost on us that the original Lederman piece appeared in a Bell-owned media organ, to which we say good on Patrick Brethour and/or whoever else at the Globe made sure that the story made it into both print and pixels.
It is also not lost on us that nothing like the Edmonton Journal editorial has been printed in the pages of the Vancouver dailies that are also part of the CanWest stable. And there are no excuses here because it was reprinted in the Regina Leader-Post.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Five Ringed Circus: Police State v. Free Press, Part Deux


Well, well, well.....

It looks like the interrogation, by Canadian border guards, of American Independent journalist Amy Goodman, which was 'allegedly' all about what she was going to 'say' about the Olympics in a speech at the Vancouver Public Library, has led to a little bit of bigtime proMedia blow-back for the Circus.

First there's all the stuff by Ms. Goodman herself over at her program, Democracy Now.


And the HuffPo.

And the CBC (with, yes, more than 700 comments)

And even the BellGlobeCTVTSNRDSCHUMAndEverythingElseYouCanThinkOfMedia-owned Globe and (nolongerEmpire)Mail.

But here's the real thing.

As was kinda/sorta noted late-comer to the party David Beers in The Tyee, the wurlitzering of this story started in the local Bloggodome.

And, to be more specific, the local INDEPENDENT (ie. non-turf-toe) Bloggodome (and yes, we're looking at you Spamaloteers).



Five Ringed Circus: VANOC v. Artists


Marsha Lederman of the BellGlobeCTVTSNRDSCHUMEverythingElseYouCanThinkOfMedia Empire had the story last week:

The arts-festival portion of the 2010 Olympics risks sliding into a squabble over free speech, as artists who signed on to be part of the Cultural Olympiad learn of a clause in their contracts that prohibits negative comments about the Games and its corporate sponsors.

Some artists contacted by The Globe and Mail, along with organizers of other Olympic and Commonwealth Games cultural events, called the requirement unusual and disturbing. Several artists didn't realize they had signed such an undertaking.

"This is Canada. I can't believe that we're being asked to limit our comments to the press," said Andrew Laurenson, artistic director of Vancouver's Radix Theatre, whose critical comments about arts funding and the Olympics have drawn the attention of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).....


Wonder who Our Neil would be singing for if he were to come to the Circus....

As for Jeff Tweedy?

Well, we'll just have to wait and see.

Update: Silent running reader Big-(notso)-Audible-Deen-O-Mite has noted that Ms. Lederman's follow-up indicates that VANOC is kinda/sorta standing by its gag-a-clause by saying they have no intention of using it, so why worry.....Ha!


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Five Ringed Circus: Police State v. Eagles


Have you ever gone to Squamish to watch the swooping and diving of the bald eagles?

If not, you may want to check out a volunteer program by the Squamish Environment Society called Eagle Watch.


You'll have to do that online before you leave, because this year, unlike past years, you will not be able to get any information while on the road from Eagle Watch's banner that they normally put up on the Sea-To-The-Pie-In-The-Sky Highway.

Why not?

Because VANOC, which now apparently controls everything, won't let Eagle Watch put up their banner.

I kid you not - Zoe Szuch, in the Squamish Chief, has the story:

The spectacular sight of hundreds upon hundreds of bald eagles descending on local waterways to feed on salmon will soon return to the Government Road Eagle Viewing Dike – and this year, eagle count numbers are expected to surpass disappointing numbers of the past.

“It is a totally amazing sight,” said Bruce Matthews, a co-ordinator for the Eaglewatch Volunteer Interpreter Program. “This year, we’ve had a really good pink run, Coho run and a good chum run, so this is the first time in three years that we’re going to have good eagle numbers.”

Typically, upwards of 7,000 visitors could also be seen at the Eagle Viewing Dike across from the Easter Seal Camp over the most intense two-month period of eagle activity. However despite the anticipated increase in eagles, Matthews fears visitor numbers could be significantly lower than the past because of curtailed marketing options.

He said VANOC and the Ministry of Transportation, would not allow the non-profit organization to hang an eagle-themed banner over Highway 99 for the month of January to inform travellers of the spectacular sight.

“It doesn’t make any sense that they have the right to say that there can’t be any banners along the side of the road,” he said. “It’s not an advertising banner. It says ‘The eagles have arrived,’ December to January.”

Matthews has not been given a reason why the banner can’t fly, but he believes it could greatly hinder the amount of tourists who stop in town for the day....."


Is it possible that a corporation, say a corporation that sells, I dunno, clothing for the smart-set, has signed an exclusive 'Eagle' contract with the Circus?

Set the birds free!

Original link source: The always standing on guard for both we and thee, Great Aunty Bertha.


Is Mr. Harper Setting Up A Few Of Our Finest To Take The Fall?


Mark Richard Francis, writing at Section 15, makes an excellent point:

".... As I outlined yesterday (Harper risks denigrating our soldiers) and as many others have done too, the Roveian theme that to investigate the growing Afghanistan detention scandal is to not support our troops is being repeated by the Conservatives at every turn

The Conservatives run the risk of having their falsehoods be believed by Canadians. Their falsehoods about the Liberals is not what I mean. It's their falsehoods about who can be held responsible for any detainee torture. If it comes to pass that the scandal leads somewhere, the optics forced by Harper may lead Canadians to believe that our troops are responsible, when, in reality, the fault can be found back in Ottawa...."


If such a terrible thing were to come to pass it is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly difficult for reasonable Canadians who have watched the Mr. Harper et al. repeatedly demonize anyone who gets in their way for the sake of political expediency not to ask themselves the following question....

...Would a well-placed leak be used to invoke the 'ultimate hangout' by pinning the blame on a few bad Grangeresque apples, either real or imagined?

And if, despite the track record of the Conservatives, that question is still too over the top for you, you may wish to consider the fact that, as Mr. Francis also points out, it was Mr. Harper's former chief strategist and confidant Tom Flanagan who once said:

"It doesn't have to be true, it just has to be plausible...."



Monday, November 30, 2009

Judy! Judy! Judy!......


And, as Alison and the good Reverand both note.....

Why, exactly, was Ms. Blatchford leaked info. considered to be too 'top secret' for the Parliamentary Committee looking into the matter of detainee transfers in Afghanistan?

Update: More on who gets what, when, and sometimes why(?) from Kady O here and here.
Who is this 'Judy' you may be asking? Well, we are referring, of course, to the most esteemed journalistic receiver of leaks to the south of us, Ms. Judith Miller.....Which begs the question.....Does Ms. Blatchford, too, have an ultimate cut-out?


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Five Ringed Circus Rising: Free Press v. Police State


The very fine independent American journalist Amy Goodman came north last week to speak in Vancouver and Victoria.

When she crossed the border she was, as Alison notes, detained:

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now was stopped at the Canada-US border on Wednesday and questioned for 90 minutes by Canadian Border Services Agency. She was on her way to the Vancouver Public Library to launch her new book Breaking The Sound Barrier as a benefit for community radio stations.....


What was the problem?

Well, apparently our uber-interested border guards wanted to know what Ms. Goodman was going to talk about.

So she mentioned that she planned to mention Tommy Douglas, the US Healthcare debate and the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference, the Wars in the Middle East and the Global Economy.

Which is quite a list.

But nothing on it, apparently, was of any great interest the interrogators who followed all that up with the following line of questioning while Ms. Goodman's car and laptop were being thoroughly searched:

Interrogator: "Are you speaking about the Olympics?"

Goodman: "What about the Olympics? Oh, you mean when President Obama went to
Copenhagen to push for the Olympics in Chicago?"

Interrogator: "No. I am talking about the Olympics here in 2010."

Goodman: No answer (according to a talk Ms. Goodman later gave at the Vancouver Library, not being a sports fan and not wanting to hurt Canadian National pride she elected not to admit she wasn't even aware Vancouver is hosting the 2010 Olympics).

Interrogator: "You're saying you're not talking about the Olympics?"

Goodman: No answer.


Here's the really creepy anti-free speech/anti-free press thing.

Before they let her go, the Interrogators asked Ms. Goodman for a copy of her speech.

Of course, there was nothing in there about the Five-Ringed Circus.


As anybody who knows Ms. Goodman knows, she will always respond to attempts of press intimidation by reporting on those attempts directly.

As a result, if you listen to her VPL speech you will not be surprised that she did, indeed, speak of the Circus after all.

This story is interesting, because it has been wurlitzered almost entirely in the Bloggodome. And now that bridgeman Harvey O. has stated his outrage it will be interesting to see if it makes its way into the proMedia domain.

The following is a tangential comment I left at Alison's about another border crossing incident I heard about last week:..... Went to see the Swell Season this week. The principals are Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the movie 'Once'.....And during the onstage banter they talked at some length about the difficulties Ms. Irglova, who is Czech, had at the border coming North in their tour bus from Seattle.....Apparently, they were told later, it is because of all those terrible, no good, musical gypsies trying to sneak into our (still?) fair country.....To their credit, a number of folks in the crowd shouted that we need more gypsies. .....To which I concur, especially gypsies that can make music like this.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

His Majesty's Secret PAB Service


We have noted many times in the past how Gordon Campbell's personal 'Public Affairs Bureau' is, by far, the single largest media (and media-sniffing) apparatus in the entire province of British Columbia.

And while we always knew that these fine folks (folks who visit this site early and often every time His Majesty's name is mentioned amongst the pixels) were massaging the messages for public consumption, we never, even our wildest conspiratorial fever-dreams, figured the PAB was massaging the message for Cabinet Ministers.

Until now.

Paul Willcocks, based on some very fine digging by Rob Shaw and Lindsay Kines of the Victoria Times-Colonist has the story:

So, when Citizens' Services Minister Ben Stewart learned — seven months late — that a government employee already being investigated for fraud had been caught with confidential information on 1,400 British Columbians from ministry files, who tells him?

Not his deputy, or officials responsible for privacy or from the ministry involved.

A Public Affairs Bureau staffer brought the minister up to date. How long did the branch responsible for the government's messaging know?

That's still a secret.

Rob Shaw and Lindsay Kines from the Times Colonist have been reporting on the issue.
The newspaper argues in an editorial today that Stewart should resign.


Two questions:

1) Why does the PAB even have this information, information of critical important to the private lives of a signifiant number of British Columbians?

2) What else does the PAB know that Cabinet Ministers of this Province don't?

Here's hoping Messr's Shaw and Kines are able to get answers these questions and the other three 'W's' as well.

The VT-C editorial linked to above is a good one and a very fine example of the public service that an unfettered, hard-charging proMedia organ can provide. However, we think the real issue here is not Mr. Stewart but rather the concentration of power in the Premier's office that is exemplified by the secret tentacles of the PAB that slither out from under it's tightly controlled and closed (except, of course, to the chosen few who pay to open them) doors.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Vancouver Smackdown: Parks v. Police State



I understand that a lot of mess that the City of Vancouver is in regarding its budget can be laid at the feet of Smilin' Sammy and The Spamaloteers.

And I also understand that holding the line on taxes is probably a huge issue for the Pols whispering in his Gregorousness' ear.


This business of closing the Bird Conservatory and the Stanley Park Petting Zoo can not stand, for all kinds of reasons, including many of those that Mr. Berner has been shouting about for some time now.



Let's forget all the nuts-and-bolts 'retail vs. wholesale' politics crap for a moment and just consider what the heckfire is really going on here.

First, we currently have a $2.8 million dollar annual Parks budget shortfall.

Second, the Five-Ringed Circus' three week security budget is now $1 billion and counting.

Or, put another way (using the addition, subtraction and long division skills that I've been honing recently helping littler e. with her math homework).....

....Dismantling even half of that ridiculous, wasteful circus police state apparatus would leave us with $500 million extra dollars which would be enough to ensure that the kids, the grandkids, the great grandkids, the great-great grandkids and the great-great-great grandkids of Vancouver's current taxpayers would be able to visit the birds and pet the lambs for approximately 178.57142 years.



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Never Mind The InterWebz.....


(Post-Show Update: Really, really great, and greatest of all for Bigger E ,I think....With the moviesongs, the swellstuff, and even some fantasmagoric frameology swirled into the mix with a dash of audience parts as Mr. Christopher, but a fine tribute to the Clancy Brothers, 'Ireland's first rock-stars' to close.....Real review to follow, maybe.... Unless, of course, I get to tabbing and, dare I suggest it at the age of 50...just go out there and just start busking...)

...Here comes The Swell Season!

And any & everybody they want to bring up on the stage straight out of the crowd.....

Inspiring really.

The two E's and me* are on our way to see 'em tonight.

Here's hoping they play a Mic Christopher tune or two.

(or maybe even three?)

Here's the set up of how Moji came to come up on stage with Hansard and Irglova et al. in Houston last week.
And here's a nice review of the Seattle show from a few days ago.
*And Mrs. Griffiths, just in case you're out there somewhere, the bad grammar was entirely intentional....Ha!

Update: OK, so here's something just a wee bit ghost-in-the-machinery-istic or, at the very least, 'Broken Hearted Hoover-Fixer-Sucker-Guy-esque'.....Early this morning I get a blogsearch hit on the Swell Season from Ireland....Then about an hour later an E-mail alert leads to a remote hit on the specific link to this post from Snoqualmie Washington....So what, you ask?....Well, here's the thing, the group played Portland last night, and as was made clear during the Jason Segal/Freaks and Geeks incident in Los Angeles recently, they are travelling by bus....So....wonder where, exactly, the gang stopped for breakfast this morning on the way up from Oregon's Garden City?....

(or perhaps even, oh hell, how about a fourth even if it's not really Mic's?)


RailGate Gallery Goin' Down....Who's Wearing The Pajamas Now?


There was a bunch more pre-trial legal wrangling before the judge yesterday.

You can get the bare bones of the thing, which apparently centered around the admissability of the testimony from the highly immunized Star Witness, in the public prints.

If you want it.

But if you want to read what really went down you'll have to rely on the Bloggodome.

More specifically, you'll have to rely on the the eyewitness reports of Robin Mathews, EM and North Van Grumps over at Mary's place.

Oh, and just so you know, North Van Grumps counted heads.

And the bloggers out-numbered the working press in the gallery (scroll down):

"....Of the 7 in the gallery: Neal Hall and Keith Fraser were there to represent the "Press", Robin Matthews, EM (and a friend) and myself (NVG) were there representing BC Mary. The seventh participant reminded me of Stuart Chase who was paid by the A G office to look in on the proceedings on behalf of the government, but in this case the official was none other than a fully armed, bullet proof vested RCMP which led me to the front desk on the way out of the BC Supreme Court building to ask the equally bullet proofed recectionist ....WHY. Why have an office on duty inside the public gallery area. The reply was "To give testimony." "Really"......"

Go figure.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Science Sunday: 'Tricks' Of The Trade



We've sequenced the human genome and we've identified a bunch of small chunks (ie. genes) that are messed-up and/or mutated in a bunch of different diseases.

So (again).

What's the problem?

I mean, why haven't we fixed all these diseases by putting in good genes that aren't messed-up in the cells that need them.

Well, it turns out that the real problem is that we've been unable to figure out how to get those fixed genes into the cells that need them in an efficient and non-toxic manner.

We've tried all kinds of ways to do it, including using otherwise crippled viruses as a 'vector' to deliver them.

But there have always been all kinds of problems and concerns, some of them really, really bad that have put the kibosh on full steam-ahead 'Gene Therapy' for quite some time.

Until, maybe...... now.

Here's the somewhat breathy NPR report on the very recent breakthrough:

"Researchers in France have successfully treated two young boys with a rare but fatal genetic disease. This marks a high point for the field of gene therapy after several well-publicized setbacks.

Patrick Aubourg leads the French research team. Since 1993, he's been working on a disease called X-linked adrenoleukoDYSTROPHY — or ALD. ALD is a devastating neurological disease, incapacitating and ultimately killing people who have it. Many people became familiar with ALD from the 1992 movie Lorenzo's Oil, which featured a young boy affected with this disease.

Since ALD is caused by a single gene, it's an ideal candidate for gene therapy. Put the repaired gene back into patient's cells, and that should fix the problem.

Simple in theory, but in practice, it's been extremely difficult. The biggest hurdle has been finding an efficient way to get the repaired gene into the cells of patients. One of the tricks involves attaching the gene to a virus. The virus acts as a vector, inserting the repaired gene into cells......"

Now, if any climate change deniers and/or Email 'hack and release' experts are reading this, please note the use of the term 'trick' above.

And when you do, please do not make the mistake in inferring that something nefarious is going on, because when cell and molecular biologists figure out an elegant way to do something we often do call those things tricks.

And in fact, in this case, the fine french folks under consideration used three very neat tricks to pull this off.

Here is the less breathy description of what they did, straight from their abstract in the top-of-the-ladder journal 'Science':

....Autologous CD34+ cells were removed from the patients, genetically corrected ex vivo with a lentiviral vector encoding wild-type ABCD1, and then re-infused into the patients after they had received myeloablative treatment.....

So (again, squared).

What does this mean in regular language?

Well, they first isolated Stem cells that are marked by a 'CD34' tag from the bone marrow of the patients themselves (that's the 'autologous' part). Second, they stuck the normal gene into the isolated stem cells while they were in a test tube using a fancyvirus that will get into non-dividing isolated cells (that's the 'lentiviral vector' part). Then, third, they stuck the modified stem cells back into the patients' bodies so that they could get busy and develop normally and do their normal rather than messed-up thing.

And what happened?

Well, so far the following, taken, again, directly from the Science paper's abstract:

"....Beginning 14 to 16 months after infusion of the genetically corrected cells, progressive cerebral demyelination in the two patients stopped...."

Neat tricks, eh?


And just so you know, 'cerebral demyelination' is the process that wrecks nerves in the brain that causes the debilitating 'dystrophy' part of the disease.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

If You Can't Beat 'Em In The Alley.....


There is a whole lotta spinning, crowing, and gnashing of teeth going down about a batch of Emails, some of them 13 years old, between a passel of climate scientists this weekend.

So much so that the whole 'flap', which is based on a 'hack-and-release' from academic servers at the University of East Anglia*, was fronted by the NY Times today:

"Hundreds of private e-mail messages and documents hacked from a computer server at a British university are causing a stir among global warming skeptics, who say they show that climate scientists conspired to overstate the case for a human influence on climate change.

The e-mail messages, attributed to prominent American and British climate researchers, include discussions of scientific data and whether it should be released, exchanges about how best to combat the arguments of skeptics, and casual comments — in some cases derisive — about specific people known for their skeptical views. Drafts of scientific papers and a photo collage that portrays climate skeptics on an ice floe were also among the hacked data, some of which dates back 13 years......"


I am not a climate scientist.

But I am a scientist.

And here's something everyone should know.......

Scientists fight about everything.

In fact, we fight about every single detail - from data we view as either good or bad, to hypotheses we see as either untestable or sublimely elegant, to conclusions we view as either craptacular and/or spectacular, to peer-reviewers who drive us crazy because they either miss the point entirely or because they are hard-assed in the extreme (who, if they are fair, are the really good ones that matter).

And all of this, which has absolutely nothing to do with conspiracies or cover-ups, is small potatoes compared to the massive line brawls that are routinely triggered by a dogma-callout in the midst of a rousing end-to-end, wide-open idea fest (ie. the finest kind of scientific meeting/conference).


Because niceness means less than zero when you are really trying to figure out what is going on.


*And, no, this is NOT the plotline from an old Monty Python sketch (although in some screamer quarters it probably could be)......


This Duplicity Cannot Stand, Man.


From the Big Willbowski:

The story starts in 2008. Liberal MP Gerry Byrne prepared a motion calling on the government to introduce an airline passenger’s bill of rights. Travellers would be guaranteed remedies for lost bags, unreasonable delays or overbooked flights. The model was similar to protection in Europe...


...MPs from all parties professed to support the idea, including then transport minister Lawrence Cannon.

But behind the scenes, his office was pleading with the airlines to launch a lobby campaign to defeat the motion, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.

While Cannon was promising to bring in a travellers’ bill of rights, a key political staffer in his office was telling the airlines the Conservatives really wanted it killed.

Lobby the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois, Paul Fitzgerald e-mailed the airlines. “I don’t want us to be forced into regulating passenger protection issues.”

It’s creepily dishonest. The minister is pretending to stand up for passengers while his staff is rallying the industry to kill protection.....

Creepily dishonest?

You bet.

But worse is the name that was scrawled in lipstick on the pig that became the bill that was apparently in large part written by the airline industry itself:

'Flight Rights Canada'


When they set up their 20 thousand league columns of five billion watt blast furnaces in the Beaufort Sea in a concerted effort to finally open up that pesky Northwest Passage year round, will John Baird announce that it is to be called the "Sea-Ice Restoration Project"?

The Willbowski can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the story was broken by Sarah Schmidt of CanWest who did some FOI digging and came up with an amazingly unredacted document that really got the bowling ball rolling.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Isn't It Time For Mr. Mason Go All John Obvious On Us Again?



I realize that The Maceman has been real busy recently covering torch relays and such way up in the (still?) frozen North and all....

But still.

Hasn't it been kind of a tough week for one of his most secret of secret sauce sources?

And no, we're not talking about a fine former public servant with an accounting background whose first initial is the same as that of my kids.......Honest.


RailGate's Newest Cult Member



That's right.

We have a new member.

And his name is BJ Chute.

Mr. Chute is the B.C. Paramedics spokesperson and this is what he told Crawford Kilian of The Tyee about Mr. Chris Trumpy, the very fine fellow who has been appointed by Mr. Gordon Campbell to lead the industrial inquiry that will look into the 'dispute' between the B.C. Ambulance Service and the paramedics:

"Trumpy is a longtime friend of this government," Chute told The Tyee. He said Trumpy had been "hip deep" in the government's pre-election prediction of a $495 million deficit that became $4 billion after the election.

"He was also the chief government negotiator in the sale of BC Rail."

While we would dispute that last sentence just a wee-bit based on that org. chart that just keeps on giving, it is worth recalling that the good Mr. Trumpy was also a member of the RailGate Rewind's Top-20 due to, presumably, old gold like this.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

RailGate Ruling On 'Informer Privilege'....The Crucial Passage?


Here, as quoted by Kirk Makin in the Globe, would appear to be a critical passage from from the Supreme's decision to keep the RailGate defense away from the so-called 'secret witness':

....“Where informer privilege has been claimed by the Crown, an accused's constitutional right to make full answer and defence does not alone trigger an exception to the privilege. It is only where innocence is at stake that the privilege yields and information tending to reveal the identity of the informant can be disclosed......”

Why critical?

Well, it seems that everything could change if the (I presume) latest RailGate trial judge rules that what the informer/secret witness has to say behind closed doors actually does get to the heart of the matter which is 'innocence at stake'.

And, truth be told, I only went looking for this reference to 'innocence at stake' after Bill Tieleman brought it up cryptically with Jon McComb on the (nolongerso)Giant'98 this morning....(and if only the geniuses at CORUS would make that a permanent line-up change)....


Cranking-Up The Star Chamber Machinery....


Star Chamber:

1) A royal English court or tribunal abolished in 1641, notorious for its secret sessions without jury.....

Not that I'd want to be found contempible of something or anything like that.

Or even link to anyone who would then be found to be so by association.


But hey.

Here's a thought.

Maybe we should just redact....



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Profiting Off The Killing Of The Therapeutics Initiative


In my opinion, and the opinion of many others much more knowledgable than myself, the 'Therapeutics Initiative' was a good thing for all British Columbians.

A report from a group headed by a Gordon Campbell-appointed bureaucrat, a bureaucrat whose compensation was paid by all British Columbians, is being used as ammunition to gun the 'Therapeutics Initiative' down in the street.



.....The bureaucrat who chaired the group that handed Gordon Campbell that ammunition has now been hired by a multinational pharmaceutical corporation that will profit from the death of the initiative.


This is madness.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

StealthCon Round-Up....What Was The Real Reason Dilworth Was Muzzled?


Late last week, thanks in large part to the work of Monte Paulsen in The Tyee, it became clear that the latest conservative candidate in New Westminister-Coquitlam, a riding that the Cons lost by only three percentage points in the last general, was ducking the press and/or her 'potential' constituents in the run-up to Monday's by-election.

A by-election where that StealthCon candidate was destroyed by a Dipper named Donnelly by almost 15 points.


What's the real story here?

I ask because, normally, the Big Boys from party headquarters will reign in a candidate when they are either in the lead, or the race is very tight, to ensure that they don't say something stoopid (and/or true) that will derail them if they lose just a point or two if the puffed-up punditry takes them to task over it.

But surely the Conservative braintrust must have had internal rolling poll numbers that told them that their latest horse, Ms. Diana Dilworth, was way behind as the Bye-Bye in NewWest-Coq came around the clubhouse-turn and entered the final stretch.

So, given that, why didn't they unleash her so that she could throw a few haymakers against the Dipper in an effort to make up lost ground?


Could it be that the man with the white moustache who rode into Lotusland on a big white horse that just happened to have Hunter S. Thompson's initials branded on its left flank last week put the Big Cons biggest brains in a corner that they couldn't possibly have gotten out of without suffering a thrashing on the larger regional stage if they had gone after the local Dipper?

And could that H.S.T., even if it is only hated even a third as much in Ontario as it is out here in British Columbia right now, cause some real problems for both the Big Cons and their enablers (see: Iggy and The Puffins) when we go back to the polls for real next time out?

What do you all think?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why Do Those People On The TeeVee Seem So Interesting Anyway?


Last night I had to go to a deal with a passel of well-dressed people to do some science-geek proselytizing.

In some circles at least it was probably considered a reasonably big deal.

Especially because this guy was there.

Only thing is - the two e.'s were home alone because C. was off working on a show so, even though it was getting late, I stopped in at our local movie store to get something for them after I was done.

I settled on the US Americans version of 'The Office'.

We're about halfway through season three - which is how my kids watch TV -after the fact and in bunches.

In fact, we just finished a four month project to get through the first three seasons of Mary Tyler Moore - the e's like the weirdly cool womens fashions and Mr. Grant's stubby ties.

Anyway, this (and, truth be told, a recent book review in The Globe by Cynthia Macdonald) reminds me of something that Barbara Ehrenreich kinda/sorta once said:

"People on television seem so interesting because they never actually watch television."

Or some such thing.

Have a nice 1 day mid-week weekend everybody - and don't forget to remember someone real.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Things Transcend Time, Place, Language And Pretty Much...



....And, when need be, even Ninjas.



Whatever Their Actual Intent, The Conservatives Admit To Robo-Calling



The HarperCons have not admitted specifically to being involved in any of this.

But, in a report posted on the CBC's Poli-Blog yesterday, Rosemary Barton did tell us this:

".....the Conservatives do use the automated dialer message system. In this case (the by-election campaign in Riviere du Loup), they say they've used it three times only. And never pretending to be anyone from the Bloc....."

Who, besides, oh I dunno, Frank Luntz and/or David St. Hubbins, would'a thunk it?


Tomorrow's Headline, Today......Iggy Loses Big!



Will any of the pundits bring this, from the Canadian Press, up?

OTTAWA — The Bloc Quebecois filed a police complaint over what it described as sabotage in one of four federal byelections Monday.

The Bloc says it contacted police after someone impersonated one of its members in a phone call Monday to voters in eastern Quebec. It says someone pretending to be Bloc MP Christiane Gagnon left bizarre, recorded messages urging people to vote for her colleague Nancy Gagnon.

Nancy Gagnon is hoping to hold the Riviere-du-Loup-area riding for the party, in a hotly contested race against the Conservatives.

The riding is considered a potential bellwether and victory would be considered a huge coup for the Tories.

The Bloc says someone pretending to be their Quebec City MP left halting, unprofessional-sounding phone messages urging people to vote for the Bloc - and it says the calls were designed to leave a negative impression of the party.

The MP filed a police complaint, party president Hugues Belzile signed an affidavit, and the party is also complaining to Elections Canada.

"What we want is an investigation to know who's behind this operation," Christiane Gagnon said in an interview.

Hmmmmmm......A closely constested riding..... Won by a Con with just a whiff of the RovianRoboCall about it....Now, let me think with my hindbrain for a second....Where have we smelled that before?



Monday, November 09, 2009

You Say Bye....And They'll Say Hello...Who's Going To Ottawa?



Update: All done....Cons win, as expected, in NScotia....Bloc wins big in Montreal's East End as expected....Dipper crushes StealthCon In NewWestCoquitlam.....But.....Con wins with an alleged whiff of the RoboCall in rural Quebec...

Elections Canada Results here....

7:15pm Monday Night:

The Nova Scotia seat that used to belong to Bill Casey was expected to go Con, and it did.

The two Quebec seats are not so clear from an expectations point of view.... Hochelaga in Montreal's East End is solid Bloc while in rural Rivière du-Loup nobody seems to know - and this could be the real bell-weather if the Cons show strong.

NewWest-Coquitlam likely hinges on how well the Dippers get out the vote and whether or not folks repudiate the strate(r)gy of the Stealth-Con.

And the real news?....In Lotusland there is no news......It's all pablum all the time on the airwaves...

7:40pm Monday Night
In Quebec, Hochelaga East End Mtl is going strong Bloc but rural Riviere du-Loop is a toss-up Bloc v. Con....Could this embolden The Steve?....Starting to count ballots in NWestCoq....

8:00pm Monday Night
185/257 polls reporting in rural Riviere du-Loop the Con is up by 3.5% over Blockhead.....Entering Mulroney-type territory?.... Lib is way, way gone....

8:05pm Monday Night
NewWestCoq: Early returns have Dipper with solid lead on StealthCon, but this is a weird riding where things could swing wildly poll-by-poll between the hearts of Salmonbellies vs CoqTown....
Riviere du-Loop: Con lead is holding with 209/257
Lively Dipper vs Lib Chat going on over at Cameron Holstrom's place....

8:25pm Monday Night
Riveire du-Loop: Looks like the Con will win....But....Get this....Bloc Candidate is complaining of.....RoboCalls!
NewWestCoq: I'm almost ready to exhale...10% of polls now in with a big Dipper lead (52/35)...

8:33pm Monday Night
RoboCalls in a closely contested race won by a Con?....hmmmmm....where has that happened recently?

8:40pm Monday Night
Half polls are in and Dipper Donnelly is crushing Stealth-Con Dilber.....errrr....Dilworth in NewWest-Coq...C.Press has called it Dipper (thanks PowellRiverPersuader!)...Best news of the night for sure...
Hate to say it, but.....The puffed-up punditry will very likely be piling on Iggy tomorrow....Then again, maybe I don't (hate to say it I mean)....

9:00pm Monday Night
All over 'xcept the crying....Scott Tribe did his best to defend the Iggster over at Cam Holmstrom's but, well, this is a Bye-Bye.....Thus, expectations matter a lot.... At least for the punditry who are going to be the ones (unfortunately) who tell the 97.43% of Canadians who WEREN'T paying attention what happened tomorrow...


Do Not Take Your Eyes Off The Man With All The Hats


It seems that British Columbia's comptroller general noticed more that was slightly amiss at BC Ferries than just CEO David Hahn's hugely bloated million dollar salary last week.....

Sean Holman of Public Eye, following up on a matter originally brought to our attention by the fine work of Justine Hunter in The Globe, has the (ever burgeoning) story:

Earlier, in an interview with The Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter, British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.'s president and chief executive officer said the former Crown corporation's new drop trailer service isn't being bankrolled by the approximately $125 million in funding it receives from the provincial government. Instead, that funding is only used to keep the company's minor routes afloat. But, in a recent report, comptroller general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland acknowledged those taxpayer dollars could lead to the perception the ferry service has an "undue advantage" over private sector competitors, such as Seaspan Coastal Intermodal Co.....


Why is the man of many hats referred to in the header to this post?


That's because of an earlier report, not from Ms. Hunter, but instead from Mr. Holman, that noted Seaspan's newest (we can only assume), most highly consultative and content-intensive lobbyist:

....Now, four months later (in October 2009), Mr. (Kenneth) Dobell has signed-up as Seaspan Coastal Intermodal's lobbyist.

According to his filing with lobbyists registrar, the subject matter of his activities will be "government relationships.".....



Dead Radio Station Walking...Bye-Bye Talk 1410



Is this how it ends, not with a bang but the whimpering of a million old schmoes from SportsPage?

Mr. T, the Billman, has the story:

Word just out that Talk 1410 AM radio has shut down its operations and converted to an all sports format, to be known as TEAM 1410.

Also know as CFUN, Talk 1410 has been doing talk radio in various forms since 1996, most recently hiring former CITY TV broadcaster Simi Sara as their morning show host.

Condolences to Simi, producer Renee Lukacs and other news and talk radio staff there.

The shrinking world of Vancouver media unfortunately leaves less and less room for diverse opinions.

Me, I blame it on Philip Till's destruction of the not-so Giant'98's morning market dominance, which allowed Mr. Team's [see Carson, Paul] Boyz from CTVGlobeBellChumTSNRDSEverythingElseYouCanImagine Media) to gain a foothold in the Lotuslandian drive-time market.


That and the fact that the geniuses from CORUS gave up the rights to the Canuckleheads awhile ago and also made the decision to dump Mike Smyth and go with tape delays of Puff Daddy Addler in the evening slot.

One commenter over at Mr. T's asked why nobody (with a half-a-brain) listens to CBC Radio One.....Have they never been subjected to the swill served-up serially every single day by the CluffMaster Flash and Friends?


Ya But.....Does Anybody Actually Believe That Mr. Hahn Can Run A Hamburger Stand?



It all over the Interwebz that British Columbia's Comptroller General thinks that BC Ferries Co. CEO David Hahn is way overpaid at a cool million, plus, per year.

Apparently, the real problem is that the board and the attendant executive lackeys pretty much get to set their own compensation and ridiculously slack-eyed bonus benchmarks with relative opacity.

But the thing that I find most bizarre is the comparators that were used by these geniuses.

Specifically, they were not other public, or even private, transporation companies.

Instead, they decided they should be compared to the Captains of BranchPlant Industry that run highly complex sugar and water operations (eg. Coca Cola) and hamburger stands (eg. Macdonalds).

Which begs the question.....

Does this mean that Mr. Hahn already knows how to say:

"Do you want fries with that?"

Or will he have to learn it, from scratch, when we finally send him packing with the strings from his most crispy and golden parachute dangling between his legs?

Meanwhile, again, the price for a family of four and a regular-size car to and from the big island, return, is now $220, round-trip on a weekend (fries - fat Toigo, not skinny Kroc version- not included)....As our good friend GAB likes to say, "Fares up, ridership down.....Give Davey-Boy another hundred tho'!"...Or some such thing.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

If You Don't Read Digby, You Don't Know Squat...

...About The Real Numbers.....


First - the background.....

Yesterday, during the horse trading that led up to the historic vote on Healthcare Reform in the US Congress, which includes a provision for a real, honest-to-goodness kinda/sorta/almost 'public option', there was a vote on an amendment that was fronted by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak to bar any government and/or private insurance funding of any procedure that could be even remotely construed as contributing to an abortion.

In the original voice-vote it looked like Stupak was going down....But then they went to a roll call vote....The Blue Dogs caved and....Surprise!.....The Neanderthals won.

Now, the fallback postion in all of this, as near as I can figure it, is that this would give the Conserve-A-Dems cover so that they could then vote (or at least allow) the Healthcare Reform bill to pass.

And it did.

But barely.

So, what does Digby have to say about what really went down and why?

Well, here is her (yes, her) take:

....There are only 76 women in the House out of 435 --- 17%. 59 of them are Democrats and 17 are Republicans. Three of the Democrats are non-voting members (DC, Virgin Islands and Guam.)

Out of the 56 women in the Democratic caucus, only two voted for Stupak. All 17 Republican women voted for it.

What this adds up to is that 97% of the Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment were male. 90% of the Republicans were male.

I would have to guess that if more than 17% of the congress were women, there would be a little bit less likelihood that women's rights would be so often used as a handy tool to placate neanderthals.

That's just a guess.

Habits are hard to break....."

You bet.

And hard numbers are hard to ignore.


What does this mean (as the puffed-up punditry are so fond of saying) 'going forward?

Well, if US Americans want to protect themselves from the Neanderthals they have to vote for more women.

Thing is, if you look really hard at Digby's numbers you can see that they have to be Democratic women because the Republicans of the female persuasion are, based on the evidence, apparently asexual Neanderbots from Uranus.

Or some such thing.


Lest we up here get too smug about all of this....

It is probably worth mentioning that we could soon find ourselves in a very similar situation in this, the country formerly known as Canuckistan?


Romancing The Neuron...


Following up on Brenton's most excellent description of where, and how, to buy used books on Lotusland's main Main St, I figured now would be a good time to mention that William Gibson is......



And in parallel universe news, yesterday Mr. Walters picked up Pattern Recognition for a few bucks at Pulp Fiction on Main just below Broadway....Me, I got it for free at the VPL at Knight and The Stinkin' when littler e. couldn't find 'The Chamber of Secrets'.....(although she did order it from the very nice lady with beautiful eyes that I am absolutely convinced were not born in a vat in Chiba [maybe] who said it would only be a few days because there are a whole bunch of copies 'in the system')....


StealthCon LVIX: Diana Dilworth Hides From Her Constituents



A political candidate managing their message and hiding from the evil media is one thing.

But refusing to show up at all-candidates meetings to discuss and debate the issues, in their own words, in front of real, live constituents is quite another.


Based on our analysis of the StealthCons over the last two election cycles, it has become increasingly clear that the practice of ducking all-candidates' meetings is now an endemic practice amongst many of the good and fine folks that make their deal at the cross-roads when they sign on the dotted-line and agree to be stage-managed by the party of Stephen Harper.

Most recent case in point, the (not-so-progressive) Conservative candidate who is running in next week's New Westminister-Coquitlam by-election.



Why does this stuff matter?

Because if there is even one real voter amongst the audience* who turned off the TV, put on his or her coat, and headed out the door into the rain to hear what a candidate has to say, unscripted, who got shafted by Ms. Dilworth's non-appearance.....


That would be fundamentally antithetical to all that participatory democracy in a full and open marketplace of ideas is supposed to be about.

In other words, that would be truly anti-Canadian.

So, given all that.......

Why does Stephen Harper, and the Luntzians that walk amongst him and his, hate Canada so much?

*As opposed to the rent-a-voter crowd and the true believers of all stripes that also show up at these things.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Two....Two...Ohhhhh.....Is A Magic Number

US Americans Win The Pennant!

The Healthcare reform pennant that is...but just barely....I've got it 218 to 214 with three to go....

Finally comes in at 220 to 215....Now the reason for the horse-trading earlier that threw a whole lotta uteruses under the bus becomes crystal clear (but, discussion at a number of sites indicates that the codswallop could be stripped out later in 'conference)....

And the bizarrity of it all....39 ConservaDems went Rethug DESPITE the Stupakkian Codswallop that was the fetus fetishist ammendment....Wow!....One Republican, Joseph Cao of Louisiana went the right (ie. left) way....Here's Josh Marshall's backgrounder on why Mr. Cao went as he did....looks like his constitutents might have something to do with it....ha!
PostTitle refers, of course, to this.....


US Americans Healthcare Reform Deal Going Down...


8:09pmUpdate: 218.....They've Got It!
8:08pm Update: They need 4 votes with 7 possible left....holy crap!
8:06pm Update: Watching the numbers on CSPAN....It's really close!


There is some weird ConservaDem wrangling over 'abortion' happening but the smart money says that was done by Speaker Pelosi to lock-up the votes.

The Waterheads say that the real problem here is malpractice lawyers.

Or some such codswallop....

The final vote is going down, right now (8:00pm Saturday)....

Details to follow.

Best Proggodome site - FDL
Best Round-Up site - Politico
Best What's Really Goin' Down site - TPM
Best RawFeed - CSPAN

Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn Is A Shill And A Liar



All In The Family/Archie Bunker Update, 7:20pm Saturday.....The Fetishizing is getting downright scary...but the smart money still says that this was the result of a horse-trading 'deal' cut by Pelosi to keep the votes for to preserve the main prize....Meanwhile the laugable Republican alternative bill (eg. no protection against health coverage cancellation due to pre-existing teen-age acne) is up....

Double-Secret Probation Update, 6:50pm Saturday.
...Watching Dingall close out the Dems side of the debate...It's an anti-waterheaded bit of wordsmithing in which he invokes his father who tried to do for the American public what is happening tonight back in....1943.

Update, 6:15 PST Saturday....Despite a passel of last ditch fetus-fetishizing....
Politico is reporting that Nancy Pelosi has the votes locked's hopin'!)

I've been hanging around the Proggodome down South, on-and-off, pretty much all day long.


Because the U.S. Americans' Congress is debating a bill which, while far from perfect, could maybe/kinda/sorta actually start the ball rolling on real health care reform below the 49th parallel.

And as per usual, the good folks at Firedoglake are all over this one.

As a result, I was following a Live Blog from uber-pup Rayne when I came across the following regarding an argument 'against' reform that was 'raised' by Marsha Blackburn (R:InsuranceIndustryOfAmerica):

2:29 p.m. — Rep. Marsha Blackburn — finds this a very sad day to vote for this bill; cites examples of Canadian medicine where care wasn’t provided as horror stories…..Cites H1N1 (vaccine) shortage as example of failure of government healthcare....


Imagine my considerable consternation at such codswallop.

What to do....what to do?

I know.

I'll write them a comment AND a post (not that they need either from the likes of me)!

Here it is:

Sorry to go a little OT (but not really, because it speaks to the obfuscatory tactics of the 'Insurance Industry Protection Program' and their surrogates)

Marsha Blackburn can go to bloody hell.

Because up here in Canada, we are proud of how many folks with high risk of complication have been immunized against H1N1 already (ie. 20% of the total population in my province which represents 800,000 of mostly high risk folks in just two weeks since the publically-funded vaccine was rolled out).

What we do hate, however, are the selfish bastards of privilege who have been using the thin edge of the Anti-Universality wedge (ie. private clinics) to jump the queue and take vaccine from people that could actually die if they were to suffer complications due to this virus.

Bastards like this.

And this.

Marsha Blackburn is a shill and a liar.

It’s as simple as that.

(sorry for the interruption…and good luck with the vote folks…we’re pullin’ for you up here!)