Friday, September 30, 2011

Generic Drugs: A Million Saved Is A Million Earned.


It's the Friday afternoon before tonight's big football game in downtown Lotusland and I'm pretty sure a whole lotta folks are starting to breathe a little easier now that they can look at this....

Why are they breathing easier?

Well, because, as we pointed out earlier in the week, it is not entirely certain that the new magic carpet atop BC Place (you know, the bolt of cloth that allegedly cost only a few hundred million dollars or so) will actually keep the rain out.

But that, and the Devil's Horned skyline that goes with it, is not what I want to speak about today.

Instead, I want to discuss the fact that we in this province are paying way, way to much for 'generic' drugs.


Now, what are 'generic' drugs?

Well, the first thing to understand is that they are NOT cheap-knock-offs.

And they are NOT crummy 'no-frills' versions of the real thing.

Instead, they are the real real thing.


Because they are no longer on patent, generic drugs can be bought and sold for close to what they actually cost to make, with a reasonable profit as part of the deal, rather than some made-up number that is often thousands of times larger than Orson Wells' waist-size during those not-so-salad days when he started swigging down all the generic wine that Ernest and Julio Gallo could pump out of the massive cauldrons hidden underneath either the basement of a fertilizer factory in Modesto or Randy Hearst's castle in San Simeon.

Or some such thing.



What's my real point here?

Well, as Don Cayo pointed out very adroitly in the VSun yesterday, a 75% off sale on something that is ridiculously over-priced to start with (by literally hundreds of multiples in this case) is still a ridiculous price to pay.

And the fact that the members of the Gordon Campbell Legacy government (ie. the same members that will, allegedly, be celebrating the hundreds of millions we spent to build their friends the magic carpet atop BC Place, at no cost to said friends, this evening) have locked us into just such a ridiculous 'bargain' that is literally costing us millions upon millions of dollars every year for no good reason at all.

Mr. Cayo demonstrates this point very well with the following example, based on the experience of the Land where Conchords apparently sometimes fly away from:

....(I)n the words of Michael Law of the Centre of Health Services and Policy Research at UBC, "Even at 25 per cent, our generic drug prices are way too high by international standards."

Law offers one particularly dramatic example - the widely used cholesterol-lowering statins such as Lipitor and its many imitators.

When Lipitor's patent expired last year and generic companies were able to produce copies of the drug, I estimated that the B.C. government alone could save $24 million a year by buying cheaper substitutes - even at the high price we pay in this province. At Ontario's price, obviously, we'd save much more.

But Law has looked at a drug called Simvastatin, in the same class as Lipitor, in Ontario and New Zealand. In the former, a pill costs about 62 cents; in the latter, three cents....


Why is it, once again that the Gordon Campbell Legacists are threatening us with doom because we refuse to allow them (ie. the Legacists who will be smiling for the cameras under the magic carpet this evening) to raise more money by stripping the skin off of the backs of the folks in this province that can least afford to give them more of it?

I use the skin metaphor here with purpose because 'having skin in the game' is a term that a certain Lotuslandian media personality, whom I am almost certain will be under the magic carpet tonight with all other 'Friends Of The Legacists' just loves to use it whenever possible when he goes off on 'But how are we going to pay for schools' if we don't raise revenues rant.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Those Who Can't Teach...Teach Gym.



Don't get me wrong.

Because I think Richard Linklater, especially at his best, is a genius.

After all, anybody who can start a whole new genre of anything, out of almost, but not quite, nothing is pretty much the top-of-the-pops in my books.

But given all that, I really do have a small quibble with one particular aspect of Mr. Linklater's most successful bit of multilevel movie stratification fit for the whole family.

Specifically, he really should have had Dewey Finn go back past JRichman's 'Roadrunner' to JCale's & LReed's 'Sister Ray'.

Because, if you don't do that, how the heckfire can you possibly have a class in Rock History that comes even remotely close to explaining where the inspiration for the following came from...

Which, of course, changed absolutely everything.

And, in the very end, absolutely nothing.

Which, if you ask me, is the true magic of the thing.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Orioles Win The (not) Pennant!


Unbelievable that a team so bad could still get so much pleasure out of one small moment at the very end of its 162nd game of the year.

Which is the reason I love baseball so much.

(Well, that and the fact that you can be a huge success if you are able to do your job right just 3 times out of 10; Don't think that works when you pass through either the Sawmill's gate or the Lab room door....Although, come to think of it, if you mess up in the lab, you may have to run a bunch of extra PCR reactions but you don't usually lose a finger or three)

Why Billy in the SubHeader above and not his more famous brother?..... Well....For all kinds of reasons, including this one.....


Would A $563 Million Dollar Casino Leak At Its Grand Opening?


Of course not.

But a $563 million dollar magic carpet atop the old marshmallow just might:

"During heavy rain on Monday, water seeped into (BC Place) stadium through the closed roof, but CEO David Podmore says that's to be expected because the sealing work is not yet complete.

"There are six of 36 seams still to seal, and when those are sealed it will be watertight. So it shouldn't be a surprise," said Podmore. High winds prevented workers from finishing the seals on Monday, he said.

The stadium reopens on Friday evening when the BC Lions play the Edmonton Eskimos. Singer Sarah McLachlan will perform O Canada at the opening. The stadium is also expected to get a new name for the reopening.....


Haven't we heard promises from the good Mr. Podmore and Co. about his magic carpet and the constantly escalating costs* associated with it before?

Perhaps it is time to take one of those short, bumpy trips in the Gazetteerious Time Machine....

All the way back to, say, April of 2010 so that we can dig up a most interesting time/moneyline that was originally posted by commenter 'A Dave' over at Harvey Oberfeld's place:

May, 2008: Province (of British Columbia) announces upgrade to BC Place, including seat replacement, renovations to washrooms and concessions, and the replacement of the Teflon covering with a new retractable roof – total cost estimated at $150 million.

November, 2008: Province Treasury Board approves PavCo’s $365 million business case for all renovations noted above, with an estimate given by PavCo’s David Podmore that it will cost $200 million for the retractable roof alone – the approved business case is over $200 million higher than the original estimate of only 8 months prior.

October 23, 2009: Province reapproves PavCo’s revised business plan at $365 million, but only a month later a fixed-price contract to replace the roof (none of the other work is included) with Poole Construction is signed for $468 million(*) – the roof work alone is suddenly $268 million more than Podmore’s $200 million estimate of only 11 months earlier.

Note: Nearly $100 million in renovations have been reported completed prior to the Olympics, including both a seismic upgrade of BC Place, and reinforcing the concrete ring around the lip of the stadium to ensure the weight of the new roof would be properly supported. These large structural upgrade costs would, therefore, NOT be included in the fixed $468 million work contract with PCL.


If it turns out that it costs an extra 10 or 20 or even 50 million bucks to fix the leaks, for real, that's no big deal, right?

After all, it's not like we are throwing handicapped people out of group homes or anything crazy like that for lack of 'revenue'.....

*Costs now being born entirely by we, the Downtown-Vancouver Casino-Industrial-Complex-Free paupers of British Columbia by the way.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Killing Jobs Softly With Her Logs



To be more precise, Christy Clark-Campbell's government's job-killing policies that have lead to the export of 40% of all the timber harvested in coastal British Columbia* this year as....

And that, to put it mildly, does not make the folks who make their living cutting and processing our homegrown timber happy.

Because it means that their jobs, which have been dissolving, Houdini's box-like, right-in-front of their eyes ever since the Golden Era first began, are now disappearing from Lotusland faster than even poor Mr. Owen Nolan.

And no amount of lipstick applied to any spur-line pig is going to change that real-life reality that really and truly affects families.


Which is something our local Sawmill correspondent, Mr. Beer 'N Hockey, makes abundantly clear.

(Please note: Because it speaks to both the truth and the rage of the thing, Mr. Beer's missive is neither for the faint of heart or the delicate-eared)

*Thanks to reader Tony M. for correcting me....I had originally written '40% of all the timber harvested in the entire province'....But you could argue that 40% of the coast's cut this year is actually worse given that that timber has less of the beetle-infested junk in it (ie. one could argue that we are sending out all our best logs for, essentially, no public return).
And Laila, thanks to Mr. Beer's prodding as well, is all over this one.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Has Christy And Co's Carpet-Bombing Of Mr. Cummins Concluded?


I did it again on Friday night.

Which was not a good thing for Saturday morning.

And no, it was nothing like what Mr. Beer 'N Hockey, allegedly, got himself into, on purpose.

Instead, I fell asleep Friday night with the radio tuned to one of the local Screamer Stations because I was half-listening to the sports-talk babble (which I actually quite enjoy most of the time, by the way) while reading an oldie-but-goodie from Bill Bryson, the subject of which which is about as anti-hyperspeeded-up/non-information overlorded as one can get.

All of which meant that the Screamer Station woke me up on Saturday morning.

Which was weird, in the extreme.

What was even weirder, though, was the fact that by the time I finally came fully awake an hour-or-so later and slammed the the thing off for good, I had begun to wonder something.

And it had nothing to do with what I had heard, but rather what I had not.


What I did not hear on the radio Saturday morning were more of those atrocious attack ads from the current Premier's political party attacking BC Conservative leader John Cummins.

Which is interesting timing, don't you think?

I mean, didn't the current Premier spend last week running around the province pretending she is a newly-bloomed Socialist Rose who will bring thousands of high-paying jobs to flower while, at precisely the same time, the vicious attack ads against Mr. Cummins were running everywhere in heavy rotation?

Which got me to thinking about something I have heard absolutely no pundit, professional or otherwise, pontificate on in the last couple of weeks.

And that is the possibility that Christy Clark and her Political Party's vile accusations that Mr. Cummins is not a true conservative because he apparently used the well-being of his 'offspring' to justify taking his Federal government pension may have been designed to protect her right flank while she momentarily veered way left for poll-raising purposes.

And so, once again, I ask....

Given the morally-bankrupt and cynical nature of this concerted and pre-meditated action by the BC Liberal Party, which included setting up the despicable website titled "Can't Trust", why isn't the proMedia making Ms. Clark and her political party pay?

And not for the so-called 'boneheadedness' of the strategy, regardless whether it involved an attempt to drive up Mr. Cummins negatives or an attempt to protect Ms. Clark from her own right-sided base, or both.


Instead, I want to know why Ms. Clark and her Party are not being made to pay, politically, for venal attacks that are explicitly attempting to sully the relationship of an unelected candidate with his children (eg. 'offspring') for absolutely no good reason at all at a time when there is not even an election campaign going on.

Specifically, why are members of the proMedia not asking Ms. Clark direct questions about her involvement, or even her tacit support, of this corrosive and decidedly anti-family 'tactic' at every opportunity?

And I say this with the full knowledge that the Deputy Premier of British Columbia suddenly quit both the Cabinet and the government in 2004, citing the need to spend more time with her young child as a major reason for her doing so.


Now, I want to be very clear here before I move on....

Specifically, I want to make it crystal clear that, based on everything I have ever read, seen or heard, the former Deputy Premier is a warm, attentive and loving parent.

Got that?


Here goes....


To the absolute best of my knowledge, no one from any political party, or any proMedia outlet, or even any blogger has ever cynically and derisively referred to the former Deputy Premier's young child as her 'offspring' when they have raised the possibility that other politically-charged events of the time may also have played a part in her sudden decision to leave public life in 2004.

In point of fact, again, the only group that I have ever read, seen or heard doing such a thing, particularly in a concerted manner, and with malice aforethought using paid advertising on major media outlets, is the Political Party of the current Premier of British Columbia.

Which is why that current Premier, who is, of course, also the same Deputy Premier who suddenly quit in 2004, must, together with her Political Party, be held fully accountable for their smears of Mr. Cummins and his family in 2011.

Otherwise, if they get away with it this time, ask yourself the following.....

What's to stop them from calling people's children, or their spouses, or their parents, or their grand-parents all kinds of names the next time something politically expedient has to be done to juice the poll numbers by a few points at just the right moment?



Saturday, September 24, 2011

This Machine Keeps Singing For You And Me...


You know that old story of a two-bit, hustling-and-still-scuffling young Dylan hitching to NewYork from Minnesota, in the depths of winter, so that he could sleep on couches in cold-water flats, scounge-up nickels at pass-the-basket, barely-above-busking gigs at the Cafe Wha? and then, in the midst of it all, walk across the barren wastelands of New Jersey in the sleet-slush to get to that psychiatric hospital that was holding a failing, but now famously "Not dead yet", Woody Guthrie?


A couple of months later Dylan was back in Minneapolis and everyone in what was the 'scene' there, including kinghell harp player Tony Glover, whose records Dylan had 'borrowed' to first hear the scratchy tunes of a fascist killer, knew he was not the same musician.

Or maybe even the same guy.

And soon thereafter the tidal-waving torrent that was no longer scuffling, and which may or may not have been 'channeling', of words and chords and wailing harmonica over a biting vocal ferocity that would not quit began in earnest.

Much later Dylan himself laughed the wryest, dryest laugh I have ever seen when he told Martin Scorcese:


Given all that.

How the heck am I, a guy who can barely string together three chords, and who can't sing worth a damn, but who can fiddle with words a little (in a two-bit, tin-plated sort of way), supposed to take this?


Better get to work.

(on the harmonica, I mean)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

A NorthVan Izzy Stone To Call Our Own?


In case you haven't noticed, NVG over at the Blog Borg Collective is doing some really great work combing through publicly available documents online and is pulling out some really nice nuggets.

Like, say, the fact that Kevin Falcon's travel expense account went through the roof just as the HST gov't counter-offensive went into overdrive:

"Christy Clark was sworn in as Premier on March 15, 2011, Kevin Falcon as Finance Minister soon afterwards.

For the new Finance Minister:
Travel Expenses Paid (per month) were:

$169.82 in April;
$1,550.51 in May;
$1,408.24 in June;
$11,289.16 in July;
August we'll just have to wait and see...."

There's more like that if you just scroll on down the page over at NVG's place.

I.F. Stone was a master public data miner, first class, back before there were either inner or outer Tubz to go down, or up in, or, whatever....


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Christy Clark's Sleaze Factor Is Bad Mojo For All Of Us


Regarding Ms. Clark and her political party's concerted, orchestrated, pre-meditated and duplicitous multi-pronged attack strategy on John Cummins, Paul Willcocks gets to the heart of the matter:

"....The radio ads, and the anti-Cummins website with the standard attack ad creepy photo and allegations, also tie Clark to dishonest, sleazy, American-style attack ads — hardly a good thing for someone promising a new style of politics.

The ads sometimes work. The federal Conservatives attacked Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff relentlessly with slimy ads, and succeeded in defining them in negative ways.

But they are fundamentally dishonest and destructive to democracy and public life, encouraging mindless division and contempt for all politicians.

There are lots of reasons to criticize Cummins and the Conservatives and their policy positions. But these ads are about smearing a person, and presenting him not just as wrong, but as corrupt and “a joke.”

That should concern anyone who hopes for a functioning democracy.

And Liberals should also be concerned that the party has spent money on an amateurish smear campaign that does more damage to its own cause than the target....."

You want to end the 'success' of the 'Politics of Destruction' that drags all of us, regardless party and/or ideological allegiances, down into the ditch where the cynical and morally-bankrupt make their (very good) living destroying the very fabric of a liberal, participatory democracy?

You just have to have a proMedia willing call this codswallop what it really is, no ifs ands or buts.


That's all it takes.

After all, it has worked before and it can work again.

The sub-header refers to a tune by Phil Ochs in which he rips-off himself to diss Richard Nixon....All kinds of folks have re-worked the song since...My favourite rendition is Eddie Vedder's much more recent evisceration of the State of George W et al.....And yes, just in case anyone is wondering, I am indeed working on a somewhat provincial 'Golden' version...


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Evil That Ms. Clark Does.



Newscyle+8 Double-Secret ProbationUpdate....Good perspective piece by Paul Willcocks, here
Newscycle+2 Update... At bottom of post

Les Leyne, in the VT-C, weighed in today on 'Christy's' atrocious attack ads on the feeble, but poll numbers rising, leader of the BC Conservative party, Mr. John Cummins.

And Mr. Leyne is correct.

The ads from Ms. Clark and her political party are atrocious.

But I do not agree with Mr. Leyne's assessment that these ads, and the website that they direct people to, are nothing more than a bad strategic mistake and 'clumsy'.


Because, clearly, Ms. Clark and her handlers considered all options before they decided to throw every last shred of integrity that she, and they, still have left out the window so that they could go negative and offensive, unprovoked.

But why would they do such a thing?

I'll tell you why.

Because, as right-sided American Pols of a certain rat-f*cking kind have demonstrated over and over and over again for the last two generations , the 'Politics of Destruction' works.

In real-politick, nut-cutting terms that is.

And now, in the wake of the more recent, but just as effective, tactics of Stephen Harper and the Ford Bros. in Toronto, Canadian pols know that it works up here too.

Which is why the proMedia calling this crap 'clumsy' is just not enough.

Not by a longshot.

Instead, it is their duty to get up on their hind-legs and call this stuff what it really is, which is pure, straight-up, pre-meditated, soul-destroying double-speak that is designed to win elections by sucking the heart right out of the of the real-life body politic.

A real-life body politic that is....


And not a group of cynical, morally-bankrupt pols with nice ties, straight teeth and big fat media-manipulation contracts in their back pockets.

Not to mention a complete and utter contempt for the real citizenry.


And what will happen if we don't call this stuff out for what it truly is, right here and right now?

Well, once we become a citizenry that is has known nothing but the despicable politics of destruction for an entire generation (and make no mistake, we are almost halfway there right now in this country), we soon will be completely incapable of telling right from wrong, truth from lies, and myth from fact.

And once we reach that point the cynical, morally-bankrupt ones will be able to tell us anything they want and know we will cheer, even it means turning negative, for real, on our fellow citizens.

Like, say, this......

And do not think that we who have been paying attention did not notice that these attack ads, which actually don't even make any sense on their face (i.e. does any thinking person actually believe that Mr. Cummins is NOT a conservative?), did not notice that they include taking a shot at Mr. Cummins for using his 'offspring' as political cover....Can you imagine the reaction if, for example, a dirty-rotten blogger was to make such an accusation about the current (not)Premier?
Sunday NewsCycle+2 Update: The emergent conventional proMedia pundit wisdom that this strage(r)gy was 'dumb' appears to be hardening....In other words, there has been no real analysis about how this signals a move by the BC Liberal Party braintrust to go all in with the politics of destruction...Interestingly, however, on Sean Holman's radio panel this morning, Eleanor Gregory did manage to get an unaknowledged zinger in, almost under her breath, which was...."Sometimes dumb works."...I very much agree...Especially when the punditry doesn't move past the horse race issues and really nail pols to the wall for deciding to go with the corrosivity of willful dumbness committed with nonsensical negativity and malice aforethought....And no, saying things like...'Whoever thought of this should be fired!' is not the way to deal effectively with this because this is clearly a concerted effort by the folks running the show behind the BC Liberal Party's magic curtain...How else to explain the ads, the website, AND the coordinated attacks from Mary Polak?...Thus, this is not some little rogue operation that was launched by some maverick Segretti-type operative working as a lone wolf deep within the bowels of the propMachine...Instead, this IS the propMachine.....OK?
Regarding the embedded clip, above, of American Tea Party supporters cheering to let their fellow citizens die if they get sick without health insurance...Jody Paterson points us toward an excellent and insightful OpEd in the VT-C by a Toronto paediatrician that demonstrates that we up here in the Great White North may not yet be actively cheering for the demise of those less fortunate among us who get sick, but we are, especially with our willingness to support politicians whose policies are designed to promote the steady increase in income inequality, turning a blind eye towards it...I, like Ms. Paterson, do not believe that we, as a body-politic, would have allowed this to occur even a generation ago...Which, I guess, is the real point of my rant above.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Who Knew Watercarrying Could Be So Profitable?


Remember which Lotuslandian media outlet got the english TeeVee exclusive when the figurehead currently running the Gordon Campbell Legacy Government decided to announce that there would be no fall election?


Guess which Lotuslandian media outlet got the lion's share of our cash that was doled out by the Gordon Campbell Legacy Government to try and bamboozle us with Stickmen advertising?


You got it.

One and the same.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Song For Beer.


Beer's latest post starts like this:

"Felt like crap Friday morning. Went to the job any way. I get paid as long as I can get myself through the sawmill gates, even if I spend most of my shift on the sawmill sh*tter....."

And it ends with Friday afternoon's earthquake while stuck inside same.

All of which sent me into word-song writing frenzy, for all kinds or reasons, many of which involve the various and sundry spontaneous tunesmiths I'm all tangled-up in at the moment.

Anyway, to hear the tune just hit the little triangle on left side of player below, with no download/no nothin'....just aural word-tune play...
(and, as I told Bigger E. on the Email, apologies for all the reverb - got a little carried away)

And I warned pogge that he was really, really asking for this one.....or some such thing.


Never Mind The Bollocks....

....Here Comes The Sandwich.

Danielle's sandwich that is.

You want yourself a real Ukulele Lady?

You got her.

Me, I'm working on a different Arlo song, by way of the real king, Hoyt Axton....Which is crazy, I know....Why?....Because it's chock o' block full of those darned B flats....Aaaarrggghhhh.


Monday, September 05, 2011

All Gone To Rosie's America


When my brothers and I were kids my Dad, who worked on long-haul tugboats, was gone a lot.

But, because his life revolved around cycles of three weeks on and three weeks off, he was home a lot too.

And the times he was home made up for the times he was away by, oh I dunno...

How about we just say a billion.

Maybe more.


Back in 1973 (or so), just as I was about to hit adolescence, hard, we spent almost the entire summer at the provincial campsite at Bamberton.

And we made up just about everything. In a good way, which included snorkeling for moonsnails under their old tire-like dens on the sandy bottom and hunting down flatfish with self-manufactured fork tine-tipped spears at the edge of the drop-off.

And then there was staying up half the night after we'd had the big feast eating the day's catch (although Dad was the only one who actually ate the moonsnails) doing all those things you do every night when you are camping. And then, after we finally drifted off to bed when the second feast of the junk-food and fizz-pop drink was done ("Sure you can eat it," he always said, "That's what I bought it for."), I'd head for my pup tent to read all night, most of it gateway word junk that would soon mainline me to be the much better things. I distinctly remember reading a massive tome of pro football semi-hagiography that summer called 'Seven Days To Sunday' because I thought it would be about Fran Tarkenton. Instead, it turned out to be all about a mediocre coach of the NY Giants named Allie Sherman whose story was kind of half interesting. Of course, I gobbled it all down without chewing, regardless.

One early morning (it always seemed easy to stay up all night and get up early when I was a kid, but how the heck did our Dad do it?) we were all down on the beach for low water mucking around in, if I'm remembering it correctly, a weepy rain. I think our youngest brother C. (who has the same moniker as my wife) noticed the cop first wandering out towards us across the otherwise people-free sand. We thought for sure we were going to get it for shellfish robbery, even Dad, I think. Turns out that the nearby Shawnigan Lake detachment had gotten a call from our Mom who was stuck back in town working at the bank. Dad's boss at the Towboat Co. had called because they wanted him to come in to work. Of course, this was way before cell phones and, perhaps most amazingly, surly Horseman.

Actually, that was a cheap shot. Despite their deeply-rooted institutional problems most Horsemen and Women are still fantastic, especially those assigned to small town detachments they want to actually be in. I would think that Shawnigan Lake, now as then, is one of those detachments.


Our first real record player was one of those little boxy things that we had before Dad went crazy with the various massive, jury-rigged stereo systems that came soon thereafter.

He got the box-table for us one Christmas and he bought, I think, three records to go with it to start. I remember two of them, and all their songs, for absolute sure. One was Peter Paul and Mary's 10 year 'Best Of' compilation and the other was Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. The latters' compilation came later. And that is how we learned the song 'America'.

Simon's rhyme scheme-free 'America' for me, back then anyway, seemed kind of like it was about going away to college and then drifting even further away in all kinds of ways before trying to get back home in a fit of self-realization. I'm not sure how the college part came into it, exactly. It may have been the place names because, from the perspective of a west coast Canadian boy at least, they were all far away in the east, even Saginaw. And the East is where leaves, red-bricks, ivy leagues, lives of the mind, and all that stuff I could only really imagine, and not yet quite consider seriously for myself back then, were to be found.

Anyway, much later, after I met C., my not-yet-then wife, we used to take much shorter camping trips with my Mom and Dad to Bamberton, usually around Labour Day, for all kinds of reasons, including the fact that it is the time of my Dad's birthday. On one of those trips, just before C. and I left for 'America', both literally and metaphorically, I remember jury-rigging a sauna out of plastic sheeting and using fire-heated rocks to make the steam, all to amaze my then young and still pre-adolescent cousins.

It was the kind of thing my Dad would have just made up like it was always thus back when we were kids.

Later, I would do the same thing with my own kids and our friends' kids with a twist, which I wrote about a while back, here.



It is my Dad's birthday, again, this Labour Day weekend.

And I will not embarrass him by saying how old he is.

But here's the really telling thing....

Back when C. and I were living in our own private 'America' and we had our first kid at a time when I was still jury-rigging pretty much my entire life, and the life of my family, while working for peanuts in my early 30's as a purely academic junior apprentice scientist who had no idea what he would do to actually make a living, my Mom and Dad came down to visit.

They drove all the way, and we had a great time.

And I remember thinking, distinctly, how my parents, who had just become grands for the first time, were now, officially, old.

And now I am pretty much exactly the same age they were then.

But, thanks to my Mom and Dad and all their encouragement, I've got a real job and the living I'm making is just fine, thanks.

But I'm still jury-rigging most of the rest of my life.

And I'm damned proud of it.


We didn't get over to the island for Labour Day weekend this year.


Well, little e. and C. were completely wrapped up in, and obsessed by, all that was the Vancouver International Tap Festival.

And Bigger E., my Mom and Dad's first grand one, just left for a literal and metaphorical America of her own. In this case in Montreal.

So, here, with the sincerest of apologies to Mr. Simon, is my, and my dog Rosie's, version of a not-quite Bambertonized, but fully jury-rigged, version of 'America' that we made yesterday for my Dad's birthday...

Of course this means with my Mom's birthday coming soon I just may have to shred an Elvis tune (no B-flats!)...Now, how to j-rig The King?....Hmmmm.....Maybe we'll do it like these guys.


There Are All Kinds Of Labour....



Update: Norman Farrell has a fantastic post, which is a powerful mix of both the personal and the polemical (in the best sense of the word) up, here...

We had our first kid, the one with the voice, in the Kaiser Oakland Hospital.

It was a Friday and I got home late because C. had had some false labour earlier in the week, and...


I often lost myself, not to mention both my tracks and everyone else's time, in the lab back then.

Anyway, when I opened the door C. was curled up on the couch watching the VCR-screened TV.

She was not watching a movie or the flickering snow.

Instead, she was watching the seconds tick by.

And her contractions, which were real this time, were only five minutes apart.


We started for the hospital immediately.

She couldn't sit down and her water broke all over the front seat before we got out of the driveway.

And she wanted to push.

But I had to stop her. So I tricked her with all that breathing stuff, which she doesn't remember now and sure as heckfire didn't remember then.

It was either that or I was going to have stop on San Pablo Avenue and get some ladies of the night to help us with the delivery.

When we got to the hospital we couldn't get in at first.

After all, it was a Friday night in Oakland around the time of the Rodney King riots and the front doors were locked.

Then they wanted to send us home for 12 hours because it was our first kid and there had been all that false labour already which, according to the book of ObsGyn means things are supposed to be slow.

Then they had a quick look.

And C. was 8 cm dilated.

Which changed everything, so much so that as soon as they had her in a bed they told her to push.

'Then why the he** did I have have to learn all that breathing sh*t!' she bellowed, sounding more like Linda Blair's voice-over double than my wife as the crowning began.

Bigger E., our ticket to future green cards if ever we need them, was born 15 minutes later.


We have not had our VW (notso) Microbus as long as we have had Bigger E, or even littler e. for that matter.

But it is much older than both of them.

And it has done a lot of labouring, much of which you can see on the odometer, in its 26 years, going on 27.

But here's a funny thing that I had missed.

A short while ago this wee little labour of something or other that I'm writing at this very moment, passed the VW's mileage counter.

In visits.


Do you think maybe that old two-bit, tin-plated wordsmith himself, Samuel Johnson, was right about fools who write for everything except...


Little bit of bonus, extra, completely and utterly unmonetizeable wordsmithing and/or word (off?) tuning coming up shortly for my Dad who, as a kid, always had his birthday ruined because it came just before school started up again every year.


Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Gladiator Effect.... Does The Instigator Rule Make It Worse?


“I don’t think there’s a 10-year old who grows up dreaming of beating the crap out of guys for a living. These guys were all stars at one point, but once you’re being paid, you have to do what you are told. You can become something you aren’t. What’s going on when guys know they have to go out and fight? I don’t know the effect that has.

“My older brother (Geoff) quit in major junior as a 20-year-old in Seattle because he couldn’t stand being told to go beat the (crap) out of somebody because they did something wrong to a teammate.

“I had 20 fights in my career, and I remember being scared every time. Could you imagine having to do that and that wasn’t your personality — the toll?”

Here's the thing.

If you think about Pro Hockey before the third-man-in rule (1971), and, especially, before the instigator rule (1992), tough guys often did more back then than just fight.

And, most importantly, they didn't always fight the other team's designated enforcer in a staged, center ice act of choreography with flying fists.

Think, say, of John Ferguson before '71.

Or, geez, how about a guy like Larry Robinson before '92.

Heckfire, even Semenko could skate a little. And, more importantly, he could often be an intimidating enforcer by dealing with the weasels on the other team directly because they couldn't hide behind the instigator rule. I mean, just imagine how long Matt Cooke would have lasted if he had started his career in the late '80's instead of the late '90's?


If you're a kid who gets to the NHL (or even the WHL) as a tough guy now....?

Well, you have to be a pure gladiator who only gets 3-4 shifts per game. And while you're out there for that extremely limited time, more often than not you are out there to either fight, or, at the very least, stare down the other team's designated gladiator who is doing exactly the same thing as you.

I mean, the fear of getting hurt doing this is one thing.

And it is a very real fear, as noted by Rusty Courtnall above.

But the fear of never being able to lose, because if you do you will likely soon be gone for good, is another thing entirely.

I can't even imagine that kind of pressure and what it would do to somebody's well-being if they had to try and deal with it day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month, and season-after-season for 10, or even 15, years.

Marty McSorley did it for that long.

Longer, actually.

And he did it both before and after the instigator rule came into being.


A couple of years ago Mr. McSorley talked about how the instigator rule changed things during a long interview he gave to the CBC's Fifth Estate in the wake of the fighting-related death of senior amateur hockey player Don Sanderson.

During the interview McSorley makes it very clear, purely from a nuts-and-bolts point of view, that the instigator rule did make it impossible for him to do his job by dealing with transgressors directly. He also acknowledges that this led to more gladiator-style fighting.

However, McSorely also says that, while the inability to deal with the game's weasels was frustrating, the gladiator stuff never really bothered him.

He says that.



The pressure on these guys, especially the relentless nature of it, is unimaginable to me.

On the night that the image at the top of the post was taken, back in 1994, McSorley was more than just the Great One's post-Semenkoian Bodyguard....Why?....Because that night he, McSorely, got the assist on Gretzky's 802nd NHL goal which was one more than Gordie Howe, an awesome pre-third-man enforcer himself.....Ironically, the goal was scored against Geoff Courtnall's Vancouver Canucks....Rusty joined the Canucks to play with his brother a year later after he bounced around the league for awhile when he was first drummed out of Toronto for not being tough enough.....The Leafs acquired enforcer John Kordic when they dealt the younger Courtnall brother to the Canadiens in 1988....Mr. Kordic is, unfortunately, no longer with us...He died tragically in 1992, the year the instigator rule was born.


Saturday, September 03, 2011

There Are Some Things More Important Than Football And School Supplies This Weekend...


Things like this....

Linkage for livestreaming and/or catching a ride with the pod, etc., can be found here.

By the way....If you missed the WBEZ Boyz three act Dylan retrospective, with Al Kooper!, from earlier this spring and summer...It can be found here, here and here....Kooper is featured in the middle act...Click it, read a little (after you marvel at the photo at the top of the piece), and then listen....It is both insightful and inspiring because Kooper takes you inside the maelstrom and the genius that was the making of Blonde-on-Blonde...What is most amazing is both Dylan's work ethic and how much of it really was seat-of-the-pants, just-let-it-all-go, done-in-one-take stuff once they got to Nashville and were able to relax with a group of really great musicians that didn't give a flying f*ck that they were working with the Boy Wonder.

Of course, Mr. Beer'NHockey has his own (anti)Rock 'n Roll fantasy to deal with on Sunday night...


The Louisiana Purchase....Eight Years Is Nothin'!


The BC Rail Legislature Raids occurred in December of 2003.

Which, if I'm doing the math right, is almost 8 years ago.

Which means that RailGate is old news and that it's way, way too late for justice, right?



In the comments yesterday, an eagle-eyed reader brought of an interesting little tid-bit in Thursday's Globe to our attention that was written by their retrospective man, Brennan Clark:

15 YEARS AGO… (Aug. 28 – Sept. 3, 1996)

Former premier found guilty of insider trading

The B.C. Securities Commission this week found former B.C. premier Bill Bennett and his brother Russell guilty of insider trading during Oregon-based Louisiana-Pacific’s unsuccessful attempt to take over Doman Industries eight years ago.

In a long-awaited ruling, the BCSC concluded that Vancouver Island lumber baron Herb Doman tipped off the Bennett brothers just before Louisiana Pacific withdrew a bid to pay $12 a share for Mr. Doman’s company early in November, 1988.

The Bennetts sold more than half a million shares in Doman Industries at $11 a share before the close of trading on Friday, Nov. 4, netting an estimated $2-million profit, the commission said. Doman shares reopened for trading the next Monday at $7.75....

{snippety doo-dah}

The three men were acquitted of criminal charges in the case in 1989.

Flash forward: In 1999, after unsuccessfully appealing the ruling, the Bennetts and Mr. Doman agreed to abide by the BCSC’s sanctions and pay more than $1-million to cover the cost of the investigation.

Did you catch that?

Premier and family member initially dodged bullet...Then, finally, they admitted their wrongdoing and were forced to account, at least partially,* for their actions 11 years later....

Remind you of anyone and/or anything?

Regarding the 'tax credit indemnity' thing mentioned in the gazee-o-tropic sub-header, please see this.
*Update: Please note....I initially wrote 'fully' account for their actions but then an Anon-O-Mouse, in the comments, pointed out that this was by no means complete...Thus, the change to 'partial'.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Mr. Mair....Fate Just Called....Get Thee To Kamloops, Pronto!


The following is a comment by an anonymous reader over at Paul Willcocks' place, tacked on to the latters' excellent HST RefVote preference piece.

This is just unfreaking-believable.....

The provincial HST vote came out
54.73% YES, and 45.27% NO.

There is an old saying in BC politics: 'How goes Kamloops, goes the province'.

Kamloops-North Thompson
YES = 10,779
NO = 8,916
Total = 19,695

Kamloops-North Thompson
54.73% YES, and 45.27% NO.

And, yes, it's legit....

Here is my response, because this just has to be a sign....


To the second decimal point...That is unbelievable!

Maybe Rafe should get himself up there, pronto, take T.Lake's seat, and save us all!

Seriously Mr. Mair....

Do it!


Mr. Baldrey.....You Had An Option, Sir.


When Stephen Smart was throwing his Twitter-enabled hissy fit yesterday about (not)Premier Christy Clark's decision to make her (non) election announcement 'exclusively' via a single carefully selected english-language TeeVee media organ and issues were raised about the lack of a response from the leader of the Opposition to that announcement, the head mouthpiece for said select organ, Mr. Keith Baldrey, defended himself thusly:

But here's the thing......

Not to go all Mulroney on him or anything, but I can't help but wonder what would have happened if, when approached by the (not)Premier's office, Mr. Baldrey had just said...

"Thank-you for kind offer. However, this is not an investigative story, or even a backgrounder. Instead, it is an official announcement of import for all British Columbians. Thus, I would be happy to ask you questions at your press conference, instead."

And what if Mr. Smart had said the same thing if the (not)Premier's office had then called him next....

And then Mr. Beatty after him...


What would have happened then?


I must confess, I am not entirely sure what the outcome would have been if the Lotuslandian TeeVee elites had stood together for the collective public good, on principle.

Perhaps Ms Clark's office would have gone after Uncle Dave, in the end.

Which would have been great, because I reckon that Mr. Berner would have eviscerated her given that he would not be happy about having his wall-to-wall tennis watching interrupted for, essentially, no good reason at all.