Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sometimes A Cheque Is Just A Cheque...

...And Sometimes It Is A Whole Lot More.

It turns out that after a year of investigations that cost millions and led to hundreds and hundreds of audits, only one charitable organization has been singled out by the Harper government for spending too much money on 'political activities'.

Kate Webb, who's been doing some fine work lately, has the story in Metro News:

...Environmental charities were widely reported to be the primary target of ramped up compliance measures after Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said environmental and other “radical groups” were trying to undermine the national economy by blocking pipeline and other fossil fuel projects.

But Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) spokesman Philippe Brideau said after roughly 880 audits in the last year, the only charity whose status was revoked for exceeding limits on political activity was Physicians for Global Survival, a group dedicated to the promotion of nuclear disarmament.

A CRA audit found the organization was using 26 per cent of its resources for political activities, including a letter-writing campaign urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper, party leaders and MPs to support an international treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Several high-profile B.C.-based charities, including the David Suzuki Foundation andForestEthics, told Metro the CRA’s attention actually inspired them to become more politically active, because they realized they were not spending anywhere near the 10 per cent threshold...


A whole lot of folks on the Twittmachine have, quite rightly, been raising a ruckus about all the organizations that were unfairly smeared BEFORE the Harper government set up this witchhunty-type citizen repression machinery.

But I want to talk briefly about the group that was 'caught'.

Which is the 'Physicians for Global Survival'.

Because it is a group whose manifesto I very much agree with:

"Because of our concern for global health, we are committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons, the prevention of war, the promotion of nonviolent means of conflict resolution and social justice in a sustainable world."


With a mission statement like that I'd be upset if I was a contributor and found out that they were spending anything less than 26% of their revenue attempting to sway politicians and policy makers.

Which, tax receipt be damned, is why I just became a contributor.



BC Hydro's Oversight-Free Transmission Lines...Will The Cronies With Their Hands Out...

...Win Again?

Well, well, well...

Whaddy'a know.

Just last week, the BC Liberal government decided that Hydro can build their new transmission lines free of any and all oversight from the BC Utilities Commission.


Balanced Budget!

Fiscally Responsible!!

Adrian Dix Wears Glasses!!!

Or some such thing(s).

Scott Simpson of the VSun has the story. Here is his lede:

An energy watchdog group is alarmed by a government decision this week to exempt two major BC Hydro transmission projects from review by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

One project involves upgrades to a 500-kilovolt line that runs across the province from Prince George to Terrace – a distance of 574 kilometres. The other is a new 93-kilometre 287 kilovolt line in the northwest that will extend Hydro’s grid from Bob Quinn Lake to Tatogga Lake south of Iskut. The government is promising to complete the 287 kilovolt line by 2014, the larger line by 2018.

No information on the cost of the projects has been released, nor whether or not they will go out for public tender.

The projects are needed to ensure timely availability of electricity for mining and liquefied natural gas projects in northwest B.C. according to a statement dated March 26 on the B.C. energy ministry’s website.

As a result, they won’t have to wait for BCUC reviews that would normally be required to determine if they are necessary or that their construction costs have been properly assessed....


Wonder if a BC Hydro Director's company were to bid on the work at a meeting on, say, May 13th,  he or she will step out of the Board Room when the decision is made?


The fine BC Liberal Party-connected folks running Hydro these days would never do something as conflicty as that.

Would they?

Meanwhile, in long weekend news of the Lotuslandian proMedia...I see, via the Twittmachine, that, having held his finger up up the wind, Ron Obvious has finally written a column in which he, too, tells us that the PCT is kinda/sorta not such a good thing for Team Body Politick....Gosh...Good thing Mr. Obvious is not still a sportswriter...'Cause if he was he would probably just now be telling us all about the fantastic win that put Florida Gulf Coast into the Sweet 16...


Friday, March 29, 2013

She Stays Up Too Late.


Beer's king hell post this morning got me to thinking about Hunter Thompson all over again.

And, because Beer is promising a series of provincial election campaign posts,  I figured he might need a soundtrack.

And that would mean he would need to acquire the rights of at least one tune, if not more, from Rosalie Sorrels.

Because Ms. Sorrels was, according to Thompson and a whole lot of other folks, including one named Utah Phillips, a king-hell songwriter.

And her story is an amazing one.

Born in the depression, in the early '60's she decided to become a folk singer, dragging her five kids with her all over North America for the next decade or so to become all of that and more.

And one of my favourites from Ms. Sorrels is the following in which, according to Beer at least, she sounds a little like my oldest kid...



Changing gears for a moment (but not really)...

We bought a new microscope in the lab a couple of weeks ago.

It's not the fanciest one we've got, but it does something that is important for that new project I told you all about awhile back that got funded recently.

Essentially, the scope will allow us to make long-term time lapse movies on clusters of cells that we suspend in a goopy matrix after we add and/or take away genes that we think will make the cells move.

Because that's what I really do for a living.

Try to figure out the genes, or, more precisely, the molecules coded by those genes, that make cells move.

Then we try to figure out how to make them stop.

Stop moving, I mean.


The microscope sits on a fancy air table that dampens all vibration so that we can keep track of the cells as they move in and out of the clusters over, say, 96 hours or so.

And, as you can imagine, there's a bunch of computer stuff that is used to capture and process all the images (it's got a super fast CCD camera attached to it that allows us to capture the fluorescent signals that we use to optically tag the various and assorted sundry molecules produced by the manipulated genes).

All of which just is a long-winded way of explaining that I needed to get a relatively small and compact little desk/table so that the computer and the peripherals and junk can sit beside the microscope itself.

And so, early this afternoon I headed south over the Knight's St. bridge into that Bermuda triangle that straddles Bridgeport and is home to a Home Depot, a Staples and, yes, the massive IKEA.


This is the part where I have to interject with a short quote from Hunter Thompson's biggest lark of a book (i.e. the one that made him first famous and then, later, a little stupid):

'The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This is the Six Reich. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos...but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish Carnival madness is going on up in this space. Right above the gambling tables the Forty Flying Carazito Brothers are doing a high-wire trazeze act, along with four muzzled Wolverines and the Six Nymphet Sisters from San Diego.....

This madness goes on and on, but nobody seems to notice. The gambling action runs twenty-four hours a day on the main floor, and the circus never ends......Stand in front of this fantastic machine, my friend, and for just 99 cents your likeness will appear, two hundred feet tall, on a screen above downtown Las Vegas. Ninety-nine cents more for a voice message......

I could see myself lying in bed at the Mint Hotel, half-asleep and staring idly out the window, when suddenly a vicious nazi drunkard appears two hundred feet tall in the midnight sky, screaming gibberish at the world: "Woodstock Uber Alles!"

Hunter S. Thompson.
Rolling Stone #95, Nov. 1971
Reprinted in: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Warner Books, pp 46-47.

Why the somewhat bizarre Good Friday interjection, you may be asking?

Well, while I would never want to argue to the good Docktor, I feel it is incumbent on me to let you know, after my afternoon sojourn, that it would appear that the Scandinavians who won the war that never was, and may never, ever end.

Because, that Big Blue Box is the gulag where any and all reasonable and rational sentient beings are sent to extinguish the last remnants of the renegade soul that gave rise to people like Sorrels, Phillips and Thompson forever.


Once I got into the bloody Box that Borje and Inge may or may not have built,  it took me almost half-an-hour to get out again.

And, for the record, it took that long despite the fact that I did not slow down for one second to even remotely consider how one actually plunks down ones money to actually buy a hunk of furniture in that damnable torture chamber.


Now, before anybody starts screaming at me....I really do think the world of Thompson and his stuff...Hell, I even think he was the first true blogger...However, I also really and truly do believe that the caricatureization that fame wrought ruined him...
Don't get the header?....Hit that RSorrels tune, above!


Are The Bogus Bollywood Awards Really Sold Out?


Earlier today we noted that a very fine PR firm called the 'Laura Ballance Media Group' has worked for, or is currently working for, the Pacific Carbon Trust and the Bollywood Awards show, both of which we are paying for, either directly or through monies ripped from schools and hospitals that will now no longer be used for kids and/or patients.

Interestingly, when it comes to, the ticket sales for the Bollywood thingy, back in late February a Ms. Laura Ballance from the above mentioned very fine PR firm, said the following, which the Vancouver Province entertainment-division printed, straight-up:

Tickets for the first-ever Times of India Film Awards gala in Vancouver were “virtually sold out” within two hours of officially going on sale.

About 35,000 tickets for the April 6 awards ceremony at B.C. Place went up for grabs Friday morning at 8 a.m. — and by 4 p.m. only a few single tickets remained.

“I was — I have to admit — surprised at the actual amount of tickets that went so quickly,” said Laura Ballance, with Laura Ballance Media Group — the PR firm leading the North American media relations for TOIFA. “It was virtually sold out in the first two hours.”...

All of which is surprising to me, because the following is a screenshot from the Ticketmaster website that I took yesterday, March 28th...

Please note, that the deeper the blue, the greater the ticket availability in that particular section.



Is it possible that 'virtually' sold out is not quite the same thing as 'really' sold out?

(and I say all this without even getting into the issue of comped tickets that I'm pretty sure Bob Mackin will be looking into any day now)


What Do The Bogus Bollywood Awards And The Pacific Carbon Trust Have In Common?



It would appear that both enterprises (that are being fueled with the public's money) have engaged a public relations firm not named Wazuku.

First, from J. Fowlie's VSun piece a couple days ago:

...The Pacific Carbon Trust is a Crown corporation overseen by a government-appointed board. The board is chaired by Chris Trumpy, a retired bureaucrat who for years served as the deputy minister of finance.

The corporation’s CEO MacDonald also disclosed Wednesday that his organization hired a pair of firms — Laura Ballance Media Group and Wazuku Advisory Group — to help with its strategy on how to react to the audit...

And, second, from The Province's breathless coverage of the Bogus Bollywood ticket sales in late February:

Tickets for the first-ever Times of India Film Awards gala in Vancouver were “virtually sold out” within two hours of officially going on sale.

About 35,000 tickets for the April 6 awards ceremony at B.C. Place went up for grabs Friday morning at 8 a.m. — and by 4 p.m. only a few single tickets remained.

“I was — I have to admit — surprised at the actual amount of tickets that went so quickly,” said Laura Ballance, with Laura Ballance Media Group — the PR firm leading the North American media relations for TOIFA. “It was virtually sold out in the first two hours.”...

Imagine that!

But does 'virtually' sold out PR-speak mean that the Bogus Bollywood thingy is actually, for reals, really actually, you know, sold out?...More on that later.


Nevermind The Writ Dropping....The Real Campaign Has Already Begun!

....The Mr. Beer 'N Hockey Campaign, I Mean.

And a whole lotta stomping of the terra will be done at this uber-freak party-in-the-Cascadian-Lowlands before it all comes to an end on May 14th.

Here is the heavily edited lede from the first dispatch:

"I have been round all seven of the campaign offices now set up to headquarter their candidate's vote attracting efforts. I am now a member of three political parties and a supporter of one hopeless as a hunter on the moon independent. All the campaigns have agreed to start me out phoning potential voters on the phone.

That is what they do with people who do not know what the f*** they are doing. What they do not know is I do. "Hi, I'm Beer. I'm calling on behalf Fearless Leader X and Fearless Local Candidate Y. As you know Fearless Leader X has promised if elected he will both ensure the Canucks win the Stanley Cup and lower the price of beer. Can we count on your vote on May 14th?"

If you have not already heard a click when you are that far into your script chances are you are talking to someone leaning your candidate's way or already supporting him. Some people will talk your ear off about all kinds of crazy s***. One time, many years ago, an old dear told me she..."

Why did I stop there?


Even the good Docktor Thompson probably wouldn't have written the crazy stuff that comes next.


If you can take a shot of magically unrealistic, but gradually anarchistic, heaping of manifestiomysteriousness on a beautiful Friday morning that begat one of the biggest myth-making exercises of all...

That probably means that you should head over to Beer's and read the whole thing.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Dippers Have Some Questions For The Pacific Carbon Trust Re: Wazuku.


More specifically, BC-NDP Finance critic Bruce Ralston has questions for Pacific Carbon Trust CEO Scott MacDonald that include the following:

- Were...senior managers responsible for the decision to hire public relations firms to manage the release of this damning report (from the Auditor General)?

- Was any direction received from government to take this course of action?

- Specifically, was it the intent of the Pacific Carbon Trust from the outset to discredit the work of the Auditor General through the use of public relations firms?

-Did the contracted organizations work with third parties in an 'orchestrated letter-writing campaign from domestic and foreign entities' that served to undrmine the Auditor general and his work?

- How much were the public relations firms paid for their work?

- Do these firms continue to be retained by the Pacific Carbon Trust?

All important questions that should be answered by the CEO of a public body that utilizes/spends public funds.

I would add another:

- Did the Board of Directors of Pacific Carbon Trust, of which a principal of the public relations firm Wazuku Advisory Group, Mr. Michael Watson, is a member, have any knowledge of your hiring of the PR firms that included, according to the Vancouver Sun, the Wazuku Advisory Group?



And The Password Is...


Double-Secret Probation Update....Bob Mackin comments on both the AG's and the Fairness Advisor's reports, and the absence of SNC-Lavelin in

Update: Auditor General's report has been released. It

And just where is that six months old 'fairness advisor's' report that Ms. Mary Polak promised Bob Mackin last weekend (just before the re-treaded photo-op) anyway?

Meanwhile, Norm Farrell makes the call on what must come next for the fine folks running the Pacific Carbon Trust.


From BC Rail To PC Trust...The Incredible Shrinking Return On Investment.


This morning Michael Smyth woke up and smelled the Pacific Carbon Trust coffee and noted the what many, including the two Bobs (Mackin and Simpson), have already made clear:

...The Pacific Carbon Trust paid out $13 million to companies that donated $2.5 million to the Liberals...

Which, of course, is outrageous.

But it pales in comparison to the return of others who donated to the BC Liberal Party who made out even better in the wake of the BC Rail sale/not sale.

After all, by our reckoning, those fine folks got was coming to them for way less than a cool million in donations to the party.

Interestingly, one very fine former public servant was involved in overseeing the dispersement of public assets to private parties in both situations.

And that would be Mr. Chris Trumpy who is the current chair of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Carbon Trust and who was once the Deputy Minister of Revenue that, according to the Finance Minister at the time, Mr. Gary Collins, was assigned the BC Rail file for said ministry.

Imagine that!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Carbon Offsets...Nevermind The Misdirection Attempts Of The Vested Interests...

...Just Pay Attention To The 'Free Riders'

Because the latter are the key to Auditor General's findings as Norm Farrell points out and as Ben Parfitt pointed out earlier today.


"...Encana’s project was projected to be more financially beneficial to the company than its previous practices, regardless of offset revenue, while the Darkwoods property was acquired without offsets being a critical factor in the decision. In industry terms, they would be known as ‘free riders’ – receiving revenue ($6 million between the two) for something that would have happened anyway..."


Everytime you hear a party with a vested interest and/or a BC Liberal Party government member (and/or a surrogate) blather on about how the Auditor General doesn't have the expertise to make the call on this thing, just ask yourself the following....

Have the blatherers convinced me that the major beneficiaries of the offsets did not get a 'free ride'?

If not, ignore them.

The vested interests, the BCL gov't members and/or their surrogates I mean.

And ignore any 'he said/she said' proMedia reports that do not address this central issue as well.



The AG's Carbon Initiative Report Has Been Released...Let The Second Wave Of...

...Smearing Begin!

Yesterday morning we noted that the smearing, which Ben Parfitt early today indicated was orchestrated by a PR firm (and if that was, indeed, the case, where did the money come from to pay said PR firm we wonder?), began before the report was withheld by the Speaker of the House around lunchtime.

What we did not mention was that there were Doppler echoes of the smear reverberating later in the afternoon into the early evening.


But now that the AG's report that you paid for has finally been released (which you can actually read for yourself, sans pay wall, here), the smear machine is cranking up all over again.


Because, apparently, the Auditor General must be discredited at all costs to ensure that no one actually reads and considers the report on its merits.

At least that seems to be story according to BC Liberal government Environment Minister Terry Lake:

Personally, based what I have read in the AG's actual report so far, and in the analysis from folks like Laila Yuile and Bob Simpson, people like the good Minister and the other propagators of the smear are soon going to regret their words.

Or, at the very least, be forced to eat them.



The Carbon Neutral Initiative: Why Are The Middle Men Screwing Over Our Public Institutions?



Double Secret Probation Late Afternoon Update...The AG's Report is....Here

Lunchtime Update...Hearing that B. Barisoff will finally release AG's report @ 1pm today...Paywall be gone!...Busy this afternoon...If anyone has the time or inclination, please post a link in the comments when it becomes available...Thanks to everybody for the helpful additional info on all of this...I think it's a pretty good example of how citizen pushback and crowd-sourcing is starting to really matter (and I'm talking about all kinds of other sites, not this one)...

From behind the Globe's pay wall, Mark Hume has seen the AG's report on the BC Liberal Government's carbon neutral initiative.

Here is just one of the kickers:

...School boards, hospitals and other public-sector entities in British Columbia are paying far higher prices for carbon offsets than is justified by the market, according to the financial records of the Pacific Carbon Trust.

Data that the Crown agency has long withheld, but which is to be released by government this week, shows that corporations such as TimberWest Forest Co., Encana Corp., and International Forest Products Ltd., have been selling carbon credits to the Pacific Carbon Trust for prices ranging from $9 to $19 a ton.

At the same time, however, public sector agencies have been paying $25 a ton to buy offsets from the Pacific Carbon Trust...

(with thanks to reader JK)


'Smear And Hold', Day 2...The Real Story Starts To Seep Out.


Yesterday we watched it all happen pretty much in real time....

First, there was the smear of the Auditor General, via the 'leaking' of letters written by folks with skin in the game that had originally been sent to government or quasi-government officials,  over his soon to be released report on the 'Carbon Neutral Initiative'....Then there were whispers about how the report might be held up...Then, a short while later, there was the official announcement that the Speaker of The House was definitely witholding the report's release because of some sort of nefarious 'breach of parliament' that was never explicitly defined.

The thing is, as soon as we noticed the smear yesterday morning we knew that something like this was coming given how predictable the Wizards  have become.

And it should added that this 'Smear and Hold' strategy was aided and abetted by a very willing proMedia right through the entire day, despite the fact that was apparent on the Twittmachine that many of the proMedia folks also sussed out what was going on early in the game.


Now that Day 2 of the strategy has broken, it is good to read Ben Parfitt's take in the Province that puts more flesh on the skeletal bones of what he reckons, with solid supporting evidence, is the real story.

Here's just a bit of Mr. Parfitt's piece, but I recommend you go and read it all:

...As word circulated that the (Auditor General's) report would cast into doubt that the B.C. government had, in fact, made any serious headway in its carbon-neutral commitments, an orchestrated campaign began to discredit what was in the report before it ever saw the light of day.

It is now evident that the organization that spearheaded that campaign was none other than Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), a Crown corporation set up by the provincial government for the express purpose of buying "carbon offsets" or emission reductions achieved by third parties.

The offsets, sold by the likes of Canadian natural-gas industry giant EnCana Corp., turned out to have been purchased at inflated markups by PCT, using $18.2 million in funds provided to the PCT by cash-strapped B.C. schools, hospitals and the like in order to meet the B.C. government's commitments of a "carbon-neutral" public sector.

Doyle says that he has personally never witnessed anything like it.

"Of all the reports I have issued, never has one been targeted in such an overt manner by vested interests, nor has an audited organization ever broken my confidence, as did the senior managers at PCT by disclosing confidential information to carbon-market developers and brokers," Doyle wrote in the preamble to the report — a report that PCT and others did their level best behind the scenes to discredit...


And I also mentioned yesterday that Bob Simpson was trying to get a handle on how involved one of the letter writers was in the game. It led to a most interesting exchange on the

So...How long will the Smear and Hold (and now follow-up Smear) strategy go on?....Well, the longest long weekend of the year will get started sometime mid-afternoon tomorrow...Right?
Reader Grant G., in the comments to a previous post now tells us that the Globe has a copy of the report...Their piece on the matter is behind their paywall...


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Unprecedented Withholding Of Latest Report From Auditor General...

...Who Really 'Breached' Parliament?

Apparently, the Speaker of the Legislature, Mr. Bill Barisoff, is holding up the release of John Doyle's audit of the BC Liberal Government's 'Carbon Neutral Initiative' because he is concerned that there has been a 'breach of parliament':

The VSun's Gordon Hoekstra has the fullest account of the 'explanation', such as it is, for this unprecedented decision to not release a report that belongs to the people of British Columbia:

VICTORIA - A report from British Columbia’s auditor general on the province’s controversial carbon trading regime is being withheld.

Legislative speaker Bill Barisoff is withholding the release of a report, saying he needs to first investigate a possible breach of parliament.

“Concerns have been raised in relation to the premature disclosure of the Auditor General’s carbon report,” said a brief statement issued Tuesday, as he announced he will not release an audit into the government’s program of carbon offsets.

“Since a breach of Parliament may have occurred the report will not be distributed until the Speaker has concluded his discussions with the Auditor-general,” he continued.

The report sent to the speaker of the legislature Monday night was scheduled to be released this morning...


Please go back and read that last sentence, bolded, from Mr. Hoekstra's lede once again.

And then read the following, from a little deeper into Mr. Hoekstra's piece, that has me wondering just who breached what and when:

...Offsetters CEO James Tansey, who is part of a group that offered up letters to media questioning the legitimacy of the audit, said they had also been told Monday night the speaker had some concerns about the report and there was potential it wasn’t going to be released.

Offsetters and other groups, including the Washington, D.C.- based Verified Carbon Standard, had readied the letters in preparation of the release of the report today because they wanted to ensure that the public understood their position, said Tansey...


Who, exactly, told Mr. Tansey, the CEO of a group involved in various carbon neutralization inititiatives, that the Speaker, Mr. Barisoff, had 'some concerns' about the report, and why did they tell him of these concerns prior to the release of the report?


And just in case you were wondering how much skin Mr. Tansey and friends have in this game...?


That is something that Bob Simpson, who was all set for a presser upon the audit's release, is trying to find out.

Right here, right now.....On the Twittmachine:

Meanwhile, also via the Twittmachine,  Les Leyne is reporting that the Auditor General is, apparently, calling the Speaker's bluff...
Solid overview, with more from Bob Simpson, by Charlie Smith of the
Ian Reid gets to the heart of the matter on the way the media was manipulated on this


The Latest Game From the Wizards' Poker Table Called...

...'Smear 'N Hold!'

This morning we noticed that there was a last minute smear going down of Auditor General John Doyle just before his audit of the BC Liberal Government's Carbon Neutral Initiative was set to be released.

And now we hear from reader Grant G, as confirmed by Shane Bigham and Jason Howe of CKWX, that speaker Bill Barrisoff may delay the release of said audit so that, according to one mandarin with a little skin in the game, the 'government' can do a little 'fact checking'.

Or some such thing.

That's sure is some game of poker the Wizards are playing with our government, eh?

Update: The VSun's JFowlie, via the Twittmachine, says that the Speaker is saying that he is witholding the audit to investigate a possible  'breach of parliament'.


Carbon Neutral Initiative Audit Comin' Down...Somebody Sure Has Been Busy.


John Doyle's audit of the initiative is set to be released today.

And it is expected to be critical of the BC Liberal government.


Is anybody surprised a CP Report from Dirk Meissner surfaced earlier today in which Mr. Doyle's ability to do the job is being 'questioned' given the leaking of three letters from folks who appear to have some skin in the game that went to:

1) Shirley Bond
2) Scott MacDonald a Pacific Carbon Trust  officer
3) Christy Clark, Terry Lake and Mike de Jong.

Some 'leak', eh?

And given the strate(r)gy likely at play here, I bet there is a whole gaggle of non-Wooded Wizards cursing Kash Heed right about now...


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Help! Linear Type Has Grabbed My Kid And She Can't Get Up.


Here's something that my science teachers would probably hate to hear, but...

The most useful class I ever took in high school was....


I was 14 at the time, in grade 9.

And I was the only boy in the class.

Man, did my non-geek friends ever give me a hard time about that.

Which was kind of scary because it was a bit of slip-up that allowed them to peek in at the real me momentarily.

Because, truth be told, back then I used to lay my life out like a variegated set of dichotomous keys wherein I always kept the geek part of my life completely separate from the jock part by making an endless series of very carefully selected 'yes/no' choices pretty much every single day.

Which wasn't easy, let me tell you.

But I was pretty good at it.

So much so that, even in my late teens, most of the kids that I played lacrosse with had no idea that I was going to university and that, worse, I actually liked to spend hours on end in the library.

But I'll tell you about that, and how I finally learned to deal with it, another time...


Littler e. turned 14 a couple of weeks ago.

And sometime back in the New Year, I think, she got it in her head that she wanted a typewriter for her birthday.


I'm ashamed to say it but I was the skeptical one on this deal.

Not because e. doesn't write.

Because she does....In (real) notebooks, as well as on various assorted boxes, pads, and tablets that are strewn about our house.

It's just that I thought she would quickly tire of the manual nature of typing on paper with a thing that bangs a ribbon and has to have its carriage returned, with your actual hand, every 20 seconds or so.

Luckily, though, e.'s Mom, C., persevered.

And so one day in late February I noticed a suspicious-looking white van with an old guy fishing around in the back as I walked down the back alley on my way home from work in the gathering dusk.

It turned out it was Mr. Polson, he of the big typewriter store that used to be down on Broadway.

And while Mr. Polson may not have his shop anymore, he just can't quit.

Interestingly, as I'm pretty sure reader E.G. will soon confirm, most of his business these days is with lawyers - apparently because they still use big selectrics for large format legal documents.


Given all that, as you might have already suspected, Mr. Polson was pretty excited to show C. and me the difference between a carriage- and basket-based manual.

In the back alley....

Like he was showing us some kind of forbidden contraband that could get us in all kinds of trouble with pixel police if we weren't careful.

And I have to admit that it was pretty darned hard not to have Mr. P's enthusiasm rub off on you a little.

But e. didn't need any old guy nostalgia to get her going.

Because she has hardly stopped since she got the little Underwood portable shown in the image above, banging out all manner of notes, journal pages, and letters destined for friends, relatives or even just her bedroom floor.

And she is already faster than me despite the fact that she has never sweated through a bell-ringer with a class full of kids whose gender is not the same as hers.

Which is probably as it should be.


In case you missed it,  littler e. (who is not so little anymore) is the younger sister of Bigger E who, as far as I know, only bangs away on an electrified pixel box these days when she's not doing.....This.
Now here's a funny thing....The kids in the lab can always tell when I'm in my office late, say, on a Sunday night...Not because of the lights or even the music (which I only blast outside of regular business hours - honest)...But rather because they can hear me banging away, hard, on my box all the way down the hall....Why?...Well, because I still treat the keyboard like the little blue Smith-Corona my Mom and Dad got me back when I was a teenager...


How Many Fairness Advisors Can Fit On The Head Of A Pin?


Fairness Advisors, which were used to great PR effect both just before and way, way after the BC Rail deal went down, have broken out all over the place in Lino-Land these days.

Recently, we talked about the one that was used in the Prince George wood thingy boondoggle.

And, surprise, it turns out that there was one for the deal that gave the Evergreen line to SNC-Lavelin.

But here's something you might not know if you haven't been reading Bob Mackin's excellent blog lately.

Which is that the same person, Ms. Jane Shackell was the 'advisor' for both the PG Boondoggle and the Evergreen/SNC-Lavelin deal.

And guess what...

Despite the fact that it was generated last fall, no one, including, perhaps most of all given how much the Wizards of Lino-Land hate all his FOI requests, Mr. Mackin, has been allowed to see the Evergreen report.

I guess fairness is best served up hidden.

Or some such thing.


The Bond Diaries...Woodfall by Woodfall.


The latest from Shirley Bond on the billion dollar wood thingy boondoggle as reported by the PG Citizen late yesterday:

..."There is absolutely no inappropriate involvement and I am not going to be apologetic for being an aggressive advocate for downtown Prince George," Bond said. "At no time were we involved in the procurement process directly and certainly NDIT board is independent, as Pat (Bell) has stated clearly."...


Did Ms. Bond just state that she wasn't 'directly' involved?


I guess that leaves lots of room to manoeuvre on the 'indirectly' front, eh?

Billion dollar boondoggle?....Well...Look where the Convention Ctr. started out...Or how about that ice bomb bridge?...Or, best of all, the stadium roof that was only built because, well, you know...Vegas!


Friday, March 22, 2013

The (Former) Busker's Life...You're Never More Than A Step Away From The Street.


I guess it's about time.

That I just come right out and say it...

That John Carney and his damnable little movie changed my life.

In the weirdest of DIY ways.

And it sure as heckfire changed the lives of its lead players.


Despite it's slight superficiality, here's a pretty interesting look at the life of one of those leads:



Is Mr. Cummins Now, Officially, A Zombie LINO Killer?


There was something interesting in the Angus-Reid poll released yesterday that I don't think anyone has mentioned yet.

And, no, I'm not talking about the 20 point spread between the Dippers and the BC Liberal (InNameOnly) Party?

Or the fact that Mr. Dix is leading by a wide margin in just about every category imaginable (except that one that we mentioned yesterday).


I was thinking about the thin blue line on the following month-by-month tracking summary:

Notice how the BC Conservative Party has not lost any ground in the last three months and is even starting to turn northward again as the red LINO line starts to trend south...

And if that BC Con support were to tick up another 3 or even 5 points as the tax-haters who previously succumbed to the LINO strate(r)gy start to pay attention to the message about Ms. Clark's faux budget from Mr. Cummins?


Given that the window for third party smear sites to do their thing will soon close...

I'm wondering if we just might be looking at a total eclipse of the LINO sun come May 15th?


The Lino-Land Wizards Go All In On The Prop Machine.


Recall, if you will, Vaughn Palmer's recent piece on the BC Liberal Party braintrust's ridiculous talking points that were being spouted, almost word-for-word by various and assorted sundry cabinet ministers and the Premier.

It was all quite laughable and demonstrated that nothing that comes out of their mouths can be trusted to actually be, you know, their own.

Which likely explains why they can say one thing one day and exactly the opposite the next with a straight face.

Not to mention just make stuff up.


Instead of slinking away in shame after serial leaks of said talking points, the Wizards have instead demonstrated how little respect they have for anyone or anything by agreeing to freely distribute their propaganda to any media member who asks for it:

And these are the people who pull the strings of the people who are supposed to be governing us?



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Latenight In LINO-Land...What The Wizards Can't Smear They Apparently Like To Steal


Cassidy Olivier has a story up on the (not)Premier's Office-centered Hit Team whose aim was levelled at the BC Conservative Party.

Interestingly, one of the 'team's' objectives was to look closely at the Curmudgeon and Co's platform so that they could determine:

1) What is worth stealing?

2) What has already been done?

3) What is just crazy/impossible/impractical/dangerous etc.?”

And no, I am not making this up.

But yes, this 'team', just like the other ones we've heard so much about lately loved to cover their tracks by using their personal Emails.


How many members were there?

Well, according to Mr. Olivier there were at least ten, one of which was a very fine public servant named Rebecca Scott.

You remember Ms. Scott, right?

After all, she is the reason that the CBC's ombudsperson, Mr. Kirk Lapointe, told the Mother Corp that their legislative reporter Mr. Stephen Smart was in a 'potential' conflict of interest.

Imagine that!


The Day The Wizards Of Snooklandia Took Down John Cummins



It looks to be true...

And it looks like things really got going with the generation of the Wizards'-authored 'Book of John Cummins'.



All snark aside...

These people are killing our democracy.

And they really must go now.



Once again, it's Cassidy Olivier who has the full story in The Province.

And recall, if you will, particularly as it pertains to all of this 'Talkin Points Memo' codswallop that has surfaced in the last few days, how  the proMedia bought the story that the BC Cons imploded from 'within', pretty much hook-line-and-sinker, despite the actual evidence, last fall...
As you might expect...The good Mr. Zubyk immediately jumped on the Twittmachine to say that 'everybody does it'...Or some such thing...
Finally...The Wizards may want to look hard at the latest AReid ticker again and note that Mr. Cummin's thin blue line has not sunk any further in the last three months...In fact, if you squint a little it looks to me like the Curmudgeon's fortunes are starting to rise once again....Ha!


This Day In Lino-Land (ctd)...Christy Goes To Dunder-Mifflin?


Like the talking points-backed Shrubbery before her, the wanna-be Rovian Wizards running Christy Clark have sent her out on the hustings so that she can avoid the super-scary, and suddenly somewhat uppity, Lotuslandian press-gang in an effort to garner uncritical reports from a supposedly more supplicant regional press.

And mostly, I guess, this has kinda/sorta worked for the last few days or so.

But sometimes unintentionally hilarious stuff that fully illustrates the true lameosity of the strate(r)gy slips through.

Like the above image, from Shelby Thom of Radio NL in Kamloops, of the (not)Premier and her veterinarian really working it in an almost entirely empty Dunder-Mifflinishian-type warehouse earlier today.

Or some such hilarious thing.

And there is absolutely no truth to the scurrilous rumour that a fine, if somewhat unbalanced fellow named Mr. Shrute was hiding behind one of the boxes in the background.


This Day In Lino-Land (ctd)...What Will Tomorrow's Talking Points Be?


First off...

Somebody is still sending those daily BC Liberal Party talking points to Vaughn Palmer.

Here, via Mr. Palmer's Twittmachine feed, is what was on tap for today:

Which, based on today's big news, has me wondering what the talking points will be for tomorrow.


Let's see....

There is that new Angus Reid poll, which has the LINO's down by, essentially, 20.

But that's not really news now is it.


I know.

There is still one, single solitary demo that the LINO's are still 'winning', if barely.

See if you can spot it in the handy-dandy chart, from Mario Canseco and the good folks from AReid, below....


That's right!

It's the well-off.

So...For tomorrow...

Will Ms. Clark show up in Spuzzum (or whatever other hamlet they send her to make sure she isn't ambushed by the big city media herd) and suddenly start shoutin' and spoutin' about how Dave Barrett is really Adrian Dix' brother's uncle's grandfather's cousin who hates job creators and the glorious richness of the Fraser Canyon and the mega-tourist potential of Hell's Gate?

Or some such thing.

And as for that rich people flip to the Dippers that Ipsos had last time out that we discussed a whole bunch at the time?...Well, clearly, it was an anomaly...My guess?....Well...The pockets of creme in this province are pretty distinct geographically and in their ideological outlook which could lead to sampling bias...Think, for example, of the difference between the average burgher of southernmost VanIsle and, say, WestVan...


This Day In LINO Land...Who Else Is Receiving The Wizards' Talking Points Memos?


That was some VSun column by The Dean yesterday, eh? 

You know....

That one where he published all those talking points from BC Liberal Party Wizards that are never about truth and clarity but, instead, are almost always about obfuscation and extreme fuzziness that sets the stage for the floating of false equivalencies in the proMedia.

And then, the next thing you know, the public is even more cynical than ever because they have been told over and over and over again that 'both sides do it'.


The other interesting thing about Mr. Palmer's column was that he actually got ahold of some of the talking points in advance which meant that he could sit back in the Ledge last Thursday and tick them off, one-by-one, as pols like Christy Clark and Bill Bennett rose to spout them pretty much word for word.

Which, of course, is to be expected I guess.

But here's the thing...

I can't help but wonder if it is more than just the pols that are being fed those talking points.

Because it sure seemed like at least a few members of the media herd were spouting them last week also.

For example, as I mentioned at the time, the fact that Mr. Sean Leslie pretty much reiterated Points 1 and 2 on Mr. Palmer's list in a 'news' report late last Thursday night is the reason I know longer listen to any news or current events programming whatsover on CKNW.


Interestingly, more than one reader has contacted me offline to mention that Mr. Leslie is starting to get very upset at all the 'partisans' who have been pointing out his penchant for engaging in the grand 'floating' thingy...
And Bob....I know you're going to kill me for this...But I just had to listen last night to see if the sports guy Dan Russell, who will soon be canned by NW apparently, would say anything about it when he came back from his long sick leave...He did not (unless I missed it, because I only listened for awhile to avoid the 10pm news)...


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Have Seen The New Future Of Rock 'N Roll, And Her Name Is...

....Ritzy Bryan!

Still not convinced?

Well, then...


Ms. Bryan and her band of formidably joyful musical accomplices actually start the left coast portion of their tour tomorrow night...They will arrive in Lotusland next Tuesday to play in a venue the size of which I do not believe they will soon be seen in again...


So When Will Rich Coleman Call Out This Irresponsible Jobs Killer?


In case you missed it on the Twittmachine Mr. Coleman ran into some spelling trouble while he took John Horgan's comments regarding the good Mr. Black's big north coast proposal way out of context.

Which begs the question...

When will Mr. Coleman start screaming at another of those red-taped enviro/safety freaks for saying the following about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion?

...“When they get to the outcome it’s going to have to include making sure that Kits Coast Guard base is reopened, and the outcome is also going to have to include a beefed up Coast Guard response up and down the coast” ...

I mean, really...

Isn't that just irresponsible job-killer talk of the kind we definitely don't need in British Columbia because it will scare investors away?

You know job-killer talk that was earlier today reported by Metro-News' Kate Webb quoting, you got it...

Ms. Christy Clark.

Which is not to say that I actually believe that Ms. Clark meant what she said...Because I'm pretty sure that by tomorrow she may very well be saying exactly the opposite as she, for example, unveils plans for a new Coast Guard base at the top of Grouse Mountain because they can, you know, 'like see everything from up there'....Or some such thing.
Thanks to GrantG. for the heads-up.


A Modest Bolly-Bike Proposal.


Boy, oh boy...

I see that the Tabby-Cat-In-Chief, aided and abetted by some of the usual suspects, has really stirred the pot by making a fuss about those two bike pumps that the City of Vancouver has installed at Science World and in Strathcona.

But here's the thing...

What if the Wizards of Snooklandia turned a massive, province-wide bike pump network into a giant jobs creation/save the environment scheme/project?


'Where would they get the money for such a thing that would put infrastructure in place for years and years and years and help reduce both gridlock and fossil fuel combustion?' I can already hear you whispering?


Let me see...

How many times can you divide the $12,000,000 that the Bogus-Bollywood Boondoggle is going to cost by the $3,000 that a fancy-schmancy pump will cost?

Hang on a sec while I get out my non 'New Christy Minstrel Math' calculator out.

By jove!

Now I think I've finally got it.

The number is four thousand.

Which means we could have bike pump for every hamlet in the province!

Including one right in front of that not-yet-built 10 storey wood-thingy that Pat Bell and Shirley Bond still have had absolutely nothing to do with in Prince George.

If you get my drift.

Of course, if the Wizards wanted to scale things down a bit to, say, a more manageable network of only 900 pumps they could always use that $2.7 million that is being given to the BC Lions to hold a one afternoon extravaganza of nothingness...Wonder how Mr. Bruce Allen, who is (at least according to his recent statement on a radio station I no longer listen to) also outraged  about the two pumps,  would howl about that?...After all, somebody's gotta book that half-time entertainment that our millions given to a private corporation, gratis, will be paying for...Right?


Ms. Clark's Prosperity Fund Delusion.


The Vancouver Sun printed a 'special' (their word, not mine) OpEd from Christy Clark this morning telling us about the sparkle ponies and unicorns all over again.

Here is Ms. Clark's 'lede', such as it is:

Recently, in the pages of this newspaper, I read with interest David Emerson’s views on how British Columbia can ensure a lasting legacy for future generations by protecting non-renewable resource revenues. I agree that this generation has a moral obligation to protect and share the benefits of a resource that belongs to all British Columbians, current and future.

That’s why on February 12, we introduced a visionary idea – a B.C. Prosperity Fund that would secure the wealth from our natural gas revenues, and protect it for future generations. It could be in excess of $100 billion over the next 30 years...

Leaving aside the almost clever use of the weasel wording (see, for example, 'could be') for the moment, perhaps Ms. Clark could tell us, specifically, how this revenue will be generated given that we have already seen natural gas revenues fall through the floor since the 'Frack Gas Glut' began and prices fell dramatically over the last five years.

Norm Farrell, not Ms. Clark or her minionish ministerial minstrels, had those (real, not imaginary 'could be') numbers up yesterday.

Here is the graphical representation of said numbers as constructed by Mr. Farrell:

And please realize that those revenue numbers fell dramatically as production actually went...




The massive revenue delusion from Ms. Clark is one thing.

But what the heckfire is this, from the closing paragraph of her special (ed?) piece for the VSun...

...LNG is a key part of The B.C. Jobs Plan. Built on our strategic advantages, the plan is the foundation for success in eight sectors in our resource industries and beyond, such as tourism, technology, agriculture and advanced education. We can unlock the potential of every sector by securing the LNG opportunity today, and protecting that wealth for future generations in the B.C. Prosperity Fund.

So we are now being told that success in LNG production kinda/sorta/maybe equals success in advanced education?


That sure is some math, that New Christy Minstrel Math.

Especially given that Ms. Clark and her Minstrels cut almost $50 million out of advanced education in their last faux prosperity non-budget.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Rainbow Comes To Topeka


The Westboro Baptist Church, led by the notorious Mr. Fred Phelps, has a website called 'God Hates Fags' (no link on purpose).

They also have a new neighbour:

For too long, the Westboro Baptist Church has been targeting the LGBTQ community with messages of hate and discrimination. Often, protesting American soldiers’ funerals and organizations that support equality. This faction preaches extremism in our communities and directly targets our youth. To combat their messages of hate and to support equality and anti-bullying initiatives in schools and in our community, Planting Peace has established the Equality House in Topeka, KS.

Located directly across from the Westboro Baptist Church, the House is a symbol of equality, peace, and positive change. The house, which is painted the colors of the Pride flag, will serve as the resource center for all Planting Peace equality and anti-bullying initiatives and will stand as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all...

Gosh creativity and a little colour is a wonderful thing.


Twitts Afire!...Mr. Bonney Falls Off The Wingnut Welfare Turnip Truck...


Residential Homebuilders' division.

And as the VSun's JFowlie notes...In addition to Embrace BC and the Multiethnic Voter Information Manipulation Strate(r)gy, the good Mr. Bonney was also involved in the Burnaby Hospital 'Quick Win' offensive that went very, very bad.


Does that mean a promotion is coming?


The Moment My Setlist Went Electric.


Update: First posted this last Saturday night....But lots of folks are still listening...So I'm moving it up so it doesn't get completely lost for a bit...

Just want to warn you, right up front, that I'm going to get even more self-indulgent than usual with this one...

(so feel free to skip this post if that kind of thing gets up your nose)


Last Saturday night I was noodling around and recorded a few songs with a little bit of family update patter sprinkled in to send to my oldest kid who is going to school in Montreal.

But when I was finished the file was too big to send it her by Email so I posted it here on the blog instead so she could listen to it.


What I'm about to show you means nothing in terms of popularity, virality, or even the teensiest-tiniest smidgeon of internet fame or anything like that.

But, still, I was truly astounded when I checked the numbers earlier this afternoon and saw this...

Just so you know...

Usually when I post a bit of audio it will garner something like a hundred or so listens over the three month cycle that it stays up on the free service that I use.

So, while I have no idea if that 'Year That Dylan Went Electric' number above means that a 1000 of you listened to the 'Setlist' once or twice or if 100 of you listened to it 20 times, I really, really want to thank those that did.

And I also really want to thank those that have contacted me with words of encouragement and, yes, words of joy.


Lots of people who know me in my other life ask me how I can be so open about things like this. After all, I'm a late middle-age academic with one grown kid and another well on the way to being so.

And I am not a real, or even really very good, musician or, truth be told, writer.

But both are something I like to do. And both are something I like to try to do pretty openly and honestly.

And honestly, except for once or twice, the folks who stop by here have been nothing but convivial, interesting and, invariably, encouraging.

Which really is something pretty darned amazing if you think about it.

Anyway,  below is a little song of thanks to tide those who might want to hear a little more over until I finish the next real sound project I'm working on...


And if you would like to go to the 'New Music For E.' directly without all the blog-blather, etc., it's.....Here.


Reporter Catches Gordon Hogg's Further Attempts To Twist The Dyble Report Into...

...A Logic Pretzel.

The reporter concerned is Alex Browne of the Peace Arch News.

And his name may be tugging at your memory banks because of this.

Regardless, here is Mr. Browne's latest 'catch':

...Asked in a prior interview for his reaction to views that (Premier Christy) Clark bears responsibility for the ('quick wins') document – and that there was a ‘culture’ of opportunism within the premier’s office that encouraged such strategy – (BC Liberal government caucus leader Gordon) Hogg said he believed (Deputy Minister John) Dyble’s review absolved Clark of direct involvement.

In fact, Dyble’s report says only that Clark, Yap and MLA Harry Bloy were interviewed as part of the review, and all “stated that they had never seen the draft strategy document or work plan until they were in the public domain.”...

Can you imagine if they all actually paid attention like that?

And, no, I'm not talking about Mr. Hogg and his ilk.


And, for the record, Mr. Browne also catches Mr. Hogg implying once again, despite all evidence to the contrary, that 'both sides do it'...Go read his entire piece for that.