Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This Day In Snookland (ctd)...A Kinder, Gentler Dismantling.


The newly-minted Education Minister, formerly known as Mr. PavCo (you know, the guy who favours giving out massive subsidies to Vegas Casino interests) has spoken...

And the BC Public School Employer's Association (BCPSEA), the fine folks elected by elected school trustees and appointed by the provincial government, will no longer be bargaining with teachers about their contract.

Instead, that will now be the mandate, apparently temporarily, of a single Snooklandian flunk....errrrr...Appointee.


And one other thing.

Teachers are no longer essential....

Or some such thing.


Make no mistake folks.

There is an agenda at work here.


Wonder what the private Emails say on this one?

BTW, Privacy Commissioner is set to rule on all that private Email stuff that arose out of DybthnicGate tomorrow...


This Day In Snookland...My Core Review Is Different From Gordon's, Honest.


The PAB-Bots, backed by the utterances of he who once flung pooh on the Twittmachine, have been hard at work selling Christy Clark's 'Core Review Two'.

Here's their capsule of the 'objectives':

- Ensuring ministry programs and activities are focused on achieving government's vision of a strong economy and secure tomorrow.

- Confirming government's core responsibilities and eliminating programs that could provide better service at less cost through alternative service delivery models.

- Ensuring public-sector management wage levels are appropriate.


Just to be clear, the PAB-Bots are saying that Christy's CReview-2 is NOT the same thing as Gordon's CReview-1.

Case in point, check out that last point about going after public sector managers wages in CReview-2.

Turns out that, apparently, it was a different breed of cat that CReview-1 went after.

Again, back to the PAB-Bot-generated pabulum:

...The focus of the 2013-14 Core Review is different than the 2001-02 Core Review, given the cost-saving and efficiency work completed by the government over the past 12 years. This work has involved ongoing reviews of regulations, executive compensation, public-sector bargaining mandates and Crown corporations to help government achieve its budget targets...



They've already successfully saved costs and increased efficiencies with respect to 'executive compensation'?


How, exactly, did they do that?

Oh, ya, I remember now.

It's the Hahnification/Pseudo-Privatization Protection Plan of all those executives that really 'matter' (i.e. must be really, really well compensated at all costs).

Including, as Norman Farrell made crystal clear yesterday on CFAX-1070, the very fine folks who are currently running the BC Investment Management Corporation:

An important recent post from Norm Farrell on BCiMC, more generally, is....Here.
And, just to bring things into full relief here....Who do you think the very, very fine folks from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are going after these days - public sector wage earners or pseudo-private sector executives?....Well....You know...
As for point #2 from the PAB-Bots noted above...We will return to that when we further dissect the matter of the hundreds of millions being spent on junk proprietary software for the school system.


The Stupid...It Sells.


In case you missed it, FOX-News recently went after religious scholar Reza Aslam for writing a book about Jesus.


Because he's a muslim.

Predictably, the TeeVee Network of the New-Dumb has done its best to circle the wagons and blame the backlash on a LeftistLiberalKenyanMarxistFascistUsurperJumpshooter plot.

Or some such thing.

But here's the bizarre twist that even Howard Beale would never have predicted...

Turns out this crap sells.

Not the FOX-News crap itself.

But, instead, it is selling Mr. Aslam's books by the bushel full. Matilda Battersby, writing for The Independent, has the story:

...But all publicity is good publicity, as they say, and this embarrassing episode for Fox News has had an extremely positive outcome for Mr Aslan whose controversial biography of Jesus, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, has now reached number 1 in the Amazon books charts.

Publishers Random House had to rush to meet a surge in demand for the book, ordering an additional 50,000 copies to be printed on Monday, bringing the total copies in print to 150,000.

The biography, published on 16 July, had already been selling well prior to Mr Aslan’s appearance on Fox News, having reached number 8 in the Amazon book charts on Friday, but Mr Aslan is “thrilled” at the increased exposure on the back of the viral interview.

“I’ll be perfectly honest — I’m thrilled at the response that people have had to the interview,” Mr Aslan told the New York Times. “You can’t buy this kind of publicity.”...


It really is a strange, mixed-up world we live in.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For The Turnstiles...


The most egregious of the latest round of Translink fare increases?

In my opinion, it's this one...

"FareSaver tickets will begin transitioning out as early as January 1, 2014. A discount on regular fares will be provided within the new stored value option for Compass Cards."

Sure do dig that that euphemism....'Transitioning out'.

And as for the matter of....'Stored value option in Compass Cards'?


It sure does sounds like a forced purchase plan to me.

As Andrea Reimer said on the Twittmachine...

It's almost as if they don't even want us to take transit anymore.

Hang-on a second.

Maybe I should re-phrase that into....

It's almost as if they don't want the people who need it most to take transit anymore.


Background on the computer vs. manned 'turnstiles' needed?....It's here.... And as you hear about how great all this stuff is, stuff that is going to cost us somewhere around $200 million to start, always ask yourself the following...'Who really benefits?'




Norm Farrell was on CFAX radio with Ian Jessop this afternoon, talking about the craziness (my descriptor, not Norm's) that is going down the BC Investment Management Corporation, particularly as it pertains to large investments in unethical companies and runaway executive compensation.

Norm's in the first half-hour of today's podcast from Mr. Jessop....Here.

(it's really worth the listen)

And the best part?...Norm will now be a regular monthly feature on Mr. Jessop's program...
And, because it came up during the conversation....This...If Mr. Bateman wants to go down the investment performance tie-in/apologia road, I'm pretty sure that Norm has the Washington State comparables ready for him...Meanwhile, by all means,  go after the salaries of Translink cops.


This Day In Snookland...Has The Media Become Her Message?


Well, well well...

It would appear that Ms. Clark will no longer submit her visage to the vagaries of those who voted (or did not vote) for her:

Don't know 'bout you, but I sure do wanna get me some of them guv'mint photos...


Antidote?.....How about some Joni?
Update, Lunchtime Tuesday...Look!....It's better than Guv'mint Cheezies....Private Photos of friends 'n stuff, from Sparkle Pony Pammy!


Monday, July 29, 2013

A New Market For A New White Powder.


And this one has absolutely nothing to do with prohibition or controlled substances.

Quite the opposite, actually.

Because it turns out that people of means are smuggling baby formula into China.

From all kinds of places.

Like Europe, where herds of mules are paid a solid cut for swarming pharmacies that have been forced to invoke a two can per customer maximum to keep a little Similac on the shelves for the Mom's pushing prams who live down the street.

And the problem is so bad in Hong Kong that it is now a serious crime if you are caught hiding a third can in your luggage when you leave.


What's it all about?


The complete absence of regulation and consumer protection, of course, which made it possible to mass produce melamine-laced formula on a mammoth scale in the not too distant past.

The result - six dead babies and hundreds of thousands of very, very sick ones.


This is not just an emerging market problem.

Because, here in North America we are actually going the other way.

Recall, if you will, say, listeriosis.

Or, I dunno, how about...

Exploding trains?


Joe Nocera, writing on the OpEd page of the NYTimes put it this way on Saturday:

...In the United States, of course, it has become religion among conservatives to denounce regulation, saying it stifles business and hinders economic growth. But consider: At the turn of the last century, America was as riddled with scam artists as China is today. Snake oil salesmen — literally — abounded. Food safety was a huge issue. In 1906, however, Upton Sinclair published “The Jungle,” his exposé-novel about the meatpacking industry. That book, pointed out Stanley Lubman, a longtime expert in Chinese law, in a recent blog post in The Wall Street Journal, is what propelled Theodore Roosevelt to propose the Food and Drug Administration. Which, in turn, reformed meat-processing — among many other things — and gave consumers confidence in the food they ate and the products they bought...


I don't know about you, but my confidence is waning.

Props to Edward Wong of the Times for doing investigative digging on this story and the editors for giving him the time and the space to do it, which was A1 in the dead-tree edition on Friday...Interestingly, when I went looking for it this morning digitally there were toxic knock-offs lurking in the Google-Cache already...


Saturday, July 27, 2013

If Not Van, Why Not Bruce?


For quite a while now, even before the passing, Glen Hansard has been taking the Big Man's nephew, Jake Clemons, out on the road with the various incarnations of The Frames, The Swell Season, and pretty much all the rest of the Dublin Diaspora.

And together they've often covered the Boss' Drive All Night wicked, wicked good.


Earlier tonight Springsteen played Kilkenny, Ireland.

And Bruce brought Hansard up on stage during the encore (Jake was already there as he has been all Wrecking Ball Tour long).

And this is what happened...

Once, not too long ago, my brothers and I got to reminiscing....And the youngest amongst us, who is the real musician in the family by the way, said the following (with a big smile on his face)...."When I was a kid I always wanted to go in a bar with Dad and order a 'Kilkenny'!"...Ya, our Dad's name is Ken...And he meant it affectionately because he wanted to wallop Ken, hard, on the shoulder (something every single rugby player in Southwestern British Columbia between 1955 and 2005 knew they could never, ever do if they wanted to keep their nasal septa intact)...
Van reference?...Well, there once was a thing called the 'Kenny Van', which was a 1970 VW (still barely then) MicroBus that I learned to drive on, circa 1976 (and that we all drove and drove and drove, sometimes all night, until the bottom fell out of the thing sometime in the early '90's if I remember correctly)....But actually, that's not really it....Instead...This.


The Great Neutering...How Long Until The CBC Makes Like NPR?


National Public Radio is but a shadow of its former self.

Need proof?

Check this out from author (and known troublemaker) Barry Eisler:

Recently, I had the good fortune to be invited by NPR to submit an essay on a favorite thriller of mine. I decided to write about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is both an excellent thriller and an increasingly powerful and relevant political warning — a combination readers of my latest novel, Inside Out, will know I find appealing.

Though I’m of course pleased that NPR decided to run the essay (which you can find here, along with an unrelated radio interview I did with Michelle Norris on All Things Considered), I’m also disappointed that NPR insisted on watering down the essay through successive drafts. The NPR editor I was in touch with, Miriam Krule, found the first three drafts "too political" (my response — that an essay on Nineteen Eighty-Four that’s too political is like an essay about the Bible that’s too much about God — was unpersuasive)...

{snippety doo-dah}

...NPR wasn’t objecting to my argument (Nineteen Eighty-Four’s political warning is relevant today); they were objecting to my evidence (Tom Friedman et al’s mistakes are disposed of as though via a memory hole; NPR and other named organizations are using government-approved Orwellian language). This matters not only because an argument’s persuasiveness depends (at least to a rational audience) on what evidence is offered in support. It matters too because preferences like the ones Ms. Krule expressed tend to reveal an otherwise hidden media ideology...

Many, myself included, now call NPR the  'Nice Polite Republicans'.


How long will it before the CBC becomes the 'Conservative Broadcasting Corporation'?


When will Mr. Harper finally pull the trigger and make Mr. Frum The Younger the Chairman of the Board?


Friday, July 26, 2013

Hunter Thompson's Great Flip-Flop On Jack Kerouac.


And certainly I've read The Subterraneans: all of his crap for that matter. The man is an ass, a mystic boob with intellectual myopia. The Dharma thing was quite as bad as The Subterraneans and they're both withered appendages to On The Road - which isn't even a novel in the first place. As the Siamese say, "Pea rattles loud in empty head." And so much for Mr. K. - who found a way out of it all. Bully for him...And all his lemmings.

Now I want to tell you....In fact he (Kerouac) was a great influence on me....So now I wanna put out my poem...This is my Ode to Jack Kerouac, who remains one of my heroes...Uhhhh...How about this...

This is called, let's see...This is called 'Hippy Ode To Jack'...

"Four dogs went to the wilderness, Only three came back.
Two dogs died from Guinea Worm, The other died from you.
Jack Kerouac."

Well, Jack was not innocent. He ran over dogs...Just think of it...OK...That's enough of that for now...Thank you very much.
And....Ahhh...Ya, well...Jack was an artist in every way...I admire the dog thing most of all.


You know, after reading a bunch of his letters, I get the impression that Thompson was one of those people who was born old and then got younger with age.

In 1958 he was just three years removed from being thrown out of his high school literary club (and high school itself) and into jail. His out was the air force, where he learned to become a sportswriter of sorts while he still harboured desires to be the next JP Donleavy.

Of course, in the end Thompson, like Kerouac before him, could never write a decent straight novel*. But both could, when pushed, almost instantaenously convert what was in their head and in their eye into gold on the page.


Was Thompson addled at age 60 when he babbled on about the much less mythical Kerouac?

Of course he was.

But, clearly, he wasn't joking about the hero stuff.

Which you can almost see in the younger kid's begrudging, backhanded acknowledgement of the greatness that was the new journalism of 'On The Road'.

Not that the old man Thompson would know anything about that.

The blessing and the curse of that new journalism gig, I mean.


*And while I had a passing young man's flirtation with 'The Town and The City', I see it for what it really is now...A half-baked attempt at spontaneous prose wrapped in a straight narrative bit of T. Wolfe (the first) flim-flammery...Not that that is necessarily a totally bad, or even a completely failed, thing or anything...


Did The Dean Just Damn The Dippers With Faint Praise?


I leave it you, Dear Reader, to decide:

The New Democrats were still getting over the shock of not being chosen to form government when they were summoned for the duties that they were elected to perform — serving as the official Opposition in the provincial legislature.

Opposition is one of the great institutions in our parliamentary system and critical to holding government to account. But not a welcome assignment when you’ve spent months expecting to take up seats on the government side yourself...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Still, once the session got underway the New Democrats managed to pick themselves up off the floor and score points off the government here and there....

'Here and there', indeed.


In fairness, there are some specifics in Mr. Palmer's ledge session closing column that are worth considering in some detail...Will return to a few of them later...


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pointy Heads From Berkeley Conclude That F. Scott Fitzgerald Was Right.


From Dangerous Minds via Open Culture:

...The research shows that people of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to break traffic laws, lie in negotiations, take valued goods from others, and cheat to increase chances of winning a prize. The resulting paper, “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior,” was published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...

It's actually just a tad worse than that based on the actual abstract from the actual peer-reviewed paper written by the actual pointy heads:

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals.
Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

And here I thought that greed was a good thing.

At least if you are living in Nixonland.

Meanwhile, can you just imagine what we would learn locally if, say....This were to happen?


Irrefutable Evidence That French Immersion Will Pay Off In The End.


Don't often do this, but...

Below is an entire post from a little blog called 'Bring A Nickel' that went up sometime late last night:

'Twas a busy dizzy evening for me yesterday as the lazy hazy summer weather drove diners out in droves to the not-so-ancient cobbled streets of Gastown. A man and his grown son each gave me a loonie then stopped to listen to me play a few songs while their wives browsed in one of the nearby souvenir shops. After a few minutes the son came over to ask me if I was studying music at school, I told him no, I wasn't, I just play music for fun and I'm studying English literature. He then turned to his dad and translated my answer into Québecois. From there on out I continued the conversation in French, covering up my public school immersion accent with as much "ben," "ouais," and fast talking as I could muster. After we finished talking the son put a fiver in my case and his father was about to do the same but paused saying "elle parle Français, ça vaut bien plus que cinq dollars" and dropped me a twenty instead. Their wives came out of the souvenir store just as I was stammering out the last of a string of mercis and I played them Carla Bruni's "Quelqu'un m'a Dit" (the only French song I have memorized). When I was finished the son completed the exemplary tableau of our country's harmonious bilingualism by switching back to English to wish me the best of luck in my studies.

Imagine that!

In case you missed it, the author of said blog post is our oldest kid, E.....Here's a bit of footage of her doing her thing from late last summer...(Need to get some footage this year too)


This Is The Kind Of Thing That Sent People Into The Streets In Sao Paulo.


From Peter Meiszner of Global News:

...Translink CEO Ian Jarvis is warning bus passengers to be prepared for more frustration this fall.

Jarvis says it is possible more and more commuters will be left waiting at bus stops, as crowded buses zoom by.

He says that’s because Translink does not have enough money to increase bus service in areas with high demand...


No money for buses.

But, luckily we are going to have all those station-clogging turnstiles and computerized pads everywhere:

...Translink is already telling passengers to expect very crowded conditions for back to school in September.

The transportation authority is also coming under fire for giving free rides to homeless people. Translink is set to introduce their new Compass card system this fall and is working to determine how to continue the practice. Riders will be required to tap in and out when entering and exiting buses...


How much, precisely, is this 'Compass' system costing us?

And who, exactly, is lined up at the trough to collect it?

The money (that could have been spent on increased bus service) I mean.

If you get my drift.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Art Monk And Darrell Green....Much More Than Just Meat Previously Ground-Up In The Machine.


In case you missed it, the two former Washington Redskins did this the other day:

Darrell Green and Art Monk, both Washington Redskins Hall of Famers, say the franchise should consider changing its nickname to one that isn’t offensive to Native Americans.

In an interview Tuesday with WTOP radio radio in Washington, the former stars voiced opinions that run counter those of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who has said he’ll never change the name, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“[If] Native Americans feel like Redskins or the Chiefs or [another] name is offensive to them, then who are we to say to them 'No, it's not'?” said Monk, adding a name change should be “seriously considered.”

Echoed Green: “It deserves and warrants conversation because somebody is saying, 'Hey, this offends me.’”...


As you can well imagine this has led to all kinds of discussion, defensiveness and (surprise!) derision on the Sports Talk Show circuit.

It has also resulted in this:

...(The interview with Green and Monk) led to a statement from the Oneida Indian Nation, the same group that gave $10,000 to a central New York school district to help pay for new uniforms after it changed its nickname from Redskins.

“For those of us in Central New York who have long adored our local Syracuse University legend, Art Monk’s greatness is nothing new — and with his powerful statements about respect for others’ culture, he continues to make this community proud,” Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in the statement...


...“They (Green and Monk) have joined a growing movement around what should be a universally accepted idea: that denigrating this country’s indigenous people by promoting ugly stereotypes is unacceptable in the 21st century,” Halbritter further said in the statement. “As the representative of one of those indigenous peoples, I want to thank and commend Mr. Monk and Mr. Green for their leadership just as I did the children of Cooperstown. Together, they are teaching this country a critical lesson about the ideals of mutual respect and inclusion.”...

As for the current owner of Washington's NFL, the billionare Mr. Snyder....

...Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to “NEVER” change the name of his football team, even as it faces a landmark lawsuit in a federal trademark court and controversy has swirled around it during the offseason...

Imagine that!

Wednesday Night Update...Looks like Mr. Green is pulling back a little...Dave Zirin wonders what's really up with that...


Big NSA Debate In Congress Going Down...


Guardian Live

Here's a tidbit (from 6:22pm Eastern):

...Watching this rapid-fire debate, it's almost impossible to determine the party of any given speaker. Roughly, it's a liberal Democrat and far-right conservative coalition vocally in favor (of the amendment to gut NSA covert surveillance). But exceptions abound, and a number of far-right stars, like Michele Bachmann, oppose it.

The supporters of the amendment appeal to the program's unconstitutionality. Opponents argue that (a) metadata collection isn't intrusive at all and (b) we're at war, with terrorists...


Have Snowden and Greenwald won?

Update 4:00pm Pacific....Amendment to scrap progam fails...but just barely...And those in favour were a most interesting coalition... NOT based on party lines....Wonder what Sean Holman thinks of this.


Why EthnicGate Should Be At The Top Of Every Editor's Pile.


Last night we noted that, after a pre-election emptying of his flask, Keith Baldrey has gone back to carrying the water to help douse the QuickWins/EthnicGate fire that was re-lit in Ledge over the past two weeks.

Well, as Ian Reid says, we shouldn't forget that Vaughn Palmer has been strapping the flask back on recently too.

Ian also makes it crystal clear why this matter does actually matter:

"...The Opposition came up with an email the Dyble investigation sat on, that appears to recommend offering a bribe as a way of keeping damaging information from harming the Premier.

Subsequently, the person who was the subject of the offer has confirmed that some kind of offer was made.

In other words there is an allegation of a criminal offence. It appears to be well founded. The head of the civil service sat on the allegation. The allegation doesn’t appear to have been investigated. The offence covers-up some other allegations that appear to go directly to the Premier..."


The Puffed-Up Pro-Punditry of Lotusland....

Can someone remind me, one more time, what it is, exactly, that they are good for?


My Morning Ride.


Actually, in addition to all this T-shirt and shorts stuff, I ride a lot in the winter too - just three or four days a week instead of five or six.

And it has nothing to do with my license.

Although, just to be clear, I almost lost it awhile back.

Not for anything I did on the road or anything.

In fact, after thirty-seven years of driving I'm still moving violation-free which is probably more a dumb-luck thing than anything else.

Anyway, after we came back from California I took a long time to get my BC license renewed and, well...

In the end they made me take a road test.

Was kind of fun actually, and the folks that did the testing, etc., were very professional and really, really good at their jobs. I was impressed.

The great comic strip above, by Hilary Price, came my way from a reader who left it on the comment thread to Monday's post. Can't thank 'em personally 'cause of the Anon-O-Mouse Rules, but I can thank them here.


Bit of a round up...

Bob Mackin has the paper to show that it was the Snooklandians, not the health authority itself, that called for the wheelchair tax to be implemented.

Les Leyne has a good analysis up on the rising costs of compensation to those who are running our (still?) Crown Corporations in this time of the tightening of most (but certainly not all) belts...

David Schreck (not Shrek!) calls advocacy on a report by 'Sustainable Prosperity' that was trumpeted by the Cluffmaster Flash pretty much uncritically this morning which says that the Carbon Tax has worked like a magically delicious lucky charm...

Sooey wants to know why, exactly, private energy companies are allowed to go door-to-door disguised as representatives of government agencies...Sooey's in Ontario, but I sure felt the same kind of bile rising phenomenon when similar folks came knocking at my door, repeatedly, trying to get me to lock in to longterm gas prices out here in Lotusland....

Jay Rosen steps back a little from the Nate Silver/538 jumping from the NYT to ESPN thing and explains how the 'personal franchise site' seems to be really working it...

A Canadian study, commented upon by Tom Jacobs in Salon, suggests that uber-Cons really are shinier, happier people... Personally, I'm surprised they just didn't ask Michael Stipe and Co.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meet The New Friendly, Same As The Old Friendly.


After it was clear that he was on the outs with the Wizards of Snooklandia (for being mildly critical) during the election campaign just passed I was surprised to see that Mr. Keith Baldrey was helping to circle the 'QuickWins No Longer Really Matter' wagons last week and, again, today.

But then, belatedly, I read Harvey O's post on the departure of CTV's Rob Brown for greener pastures (and browner cow pies) in Alberta.

Harvey, as you might expect, focussed mostly on what this means in terms of jockeying for TeeVee news positions locally as well as Mr. Brown's longer-term future professionally.

And then he wrote the following regarding Mr. Brown's work on election night:

...I was impressed on BC Election night how he managed to corral Premier Christy Clark for an exclusive interview right after she left the stage, while other media rushed to catch up. But then I noticed his soft questioning and his calling her “Christy” and that kind of dulled it for me. (I NEVER called a Premier Gordon or Mike or Glenn or Bill during an interview … or gave an interview any of them liked more than my viewers did)...


Do you think somebody might have gotten the message after that?


Put another way, regarding the 'other media rushing to catch up'....

Does anyone seriously think that it is the media members themselves who decide who gets the goods on such first name 'exclusives'?

After all, it's not like, for example, Mr. Baldrey didn't his share of such 'exclusives' in the past before the message was sent by the Wizards.

If you get my drift.


This Day In Snookland (ctd)...At Least He Didn't Blow The Budget On Cookie Dough.


Cookie Dough Mike now says there was a $1.15 billion budget deficit last year.

Which is $178 million more than originally (surprise!) forecast.

So, while we're pretty sure Mr. de Jong didn't blow the budget entirely on fixin's for his favourite brand of Blizzards, it turns out that Ms. Clark's gang did spend almost half a million dollars on...


I'm telling you, if I hear the Goodship Watercarrier ask a caller to explain how we can pay for worthwhile projects when we have to do all this 'belt-tightening' one more time my head just might explode...
More on the two-pronged, and in my opinion, orchestrated (given the timing) attack on Insite to come...


This Day In Snookland...The Attack Of The Stealthy, Soot-Laden Unicorns.


Yesterday we noted that Darth Vader had pulled a bunch of super-clean LNG sparkle ponies off the shelves marked 'debt-free' BC.

Which had us wondering if there was going to be a new herd of golden unicorns arriving some day soon to save us all.


As Damien Gillis and Laila Yule note, those golden unicorns appear to already be here.

The thing is, they were a little hard to see given that their shiny shine is hidden under a cloak of darkness.



Turns out they are covered in coal-dust.

Clean energy, indeed.


Monday, July 22, 2013

This Day In Snookland...Would You Buy A Used Sparkle Pony From That Man?


While it may look, smell, taste and read like pabulum, the lede to Rich Coleman's Op-Ed in today's VSun has an interesting nuance buried in it:

In British Columbia, we have a unique opportunity to capitalize on our most promising resource to generate revenues in excess of $100 billion over the next 30 years, while enabling the world to benefit from one of the cleanest-burning fossil fuels on the planet.

Like other jurisdictions have done, we intend to create a Prosperity Fund into which revenues from our natural gas sector will flow and will help eliminate B.C.’s debt...

Did you catch that?

That bit about how the prosperity fund will now only 'help' to eliminate B.C.'s debt.


Does that mean that somebody is getting ready to bring in a new herd of golden unicorns to get the deal done for real?

The most fantabulous pre-election claim of the most majestic of trillion (yes, with a 't') dollar sparkle pony sightings?....Here.
Tippotoque to Ben Parfitt via the Twittmachine.


My Morning Ride.


Was a little slow with my dead tree division news-reading on the weekend.

So I didn't get to an interesting page A11 NYT story by Katharine Seeleye from Friday until early this morning during that super quiet time between waking and hopping in the shower.

Below is Ms. Seeleye's lede which, I think, you will agree is pretty much the exact opposite of a certain diatribe printed in the Calgary Herald late last week (i.e. it is detailed, well researched and it is actually based on something that is not just made up from, essentially, nothing):

PORTLAND, Maine — Heroin, which has long flourished in the nation's big urban centers, has been making an alarming comeback in the smaller cities and towns of New England.

From quaint fishing villages on the Maine coast to the interior of the Great North Woods extending across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, officials report a sharp rise in the availability of the crystalline powder and in overdoses and deaths attributed to it. "It's easier to get heroin in some of these places than it is to get a UPS delivery," said Dr. Mark Publicker, an addiction specialist here.

Here in Portland, better known for its laid-back vibe and lively waterfront, posters warn of the dangers of overdose. "Please," they say: "Do Not Use Alone. Do a Tester Shot" and "Use the Recovery Position" (which is lying on one's side to avoid choking on vomit).

The city, like many others across the country, is experiencing "an inordinate number of heroin overdoses," said Vern Malloch, assistant chief of the Portland Police Department. "We've got overdose deaths in the bathrooms of fast-food restaurants. This is an increase like we haven't seen in many years."

Heroin killed 21 people in Maine last year, three times as many as in 2011, according to the state's Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. New Hampshire recorded 40 deaths from heroin overdoses last year, up from just seven a decade ago. In Vermont, the Health Department reported that 914 people were treated for heroin abuse last year, up from 654 the year before, an increase of almost 40 percent.

"Heroin is our biggest problem right now," said Capt. Scott Tucker of the Rutland, Vt., police.

One reason for the rise in heroin use is the restrictions on doctors in prescribing painkillers. The tightened supply of pain pills, and physical changes that made them harder to crush and snort for a quick high, have diverted many users to heroin, which is much cheaper and easier to get. Publicker, president of the Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine, said some doctors in the region had been overprescribing painkillers, which can be gateway drugs to heroin. A federal study in 2011 showed that the treatment admission rate for opiate addiction was higher in Maine, and New England, than elsewhere in the country, though communities everywhere are reporting problems.

"We had a bad epidemic, and now we have a worse epidemic," Publicker said. "I'm treating 21-, 22-year-old pregnant women with intravenous heroin addiction." ...


Usually when I'm riding my bike to work in the morning I try to use the time, and the rhythm of the peddling, to move my mind into the geek realm.

As such, when I get to the hill shown above (I favour the straight, short shot up 12th avenue between Alma and Wallace rather than the long, slow incline of the bike route along 7th) I'm usually thinking reasonably hard about crazy stuff like integrin activation states and mechanotransduction through adherens junctions.

But not this morning.

Instead, I was thinking about long game strategies that are used by the architects of that which is killing civil discourse in this country (a.k.a. 'The Politics Of Destruction').

And I've come to the conclusion that the 2015 playbook just may include a Hail Mary against In-Site specifically and harm reduction more generally.


Just to be clear it's not just the codswallop on the CHerald's editorial page that's got me thinking that.

Because misdirection like that is only designed to freeze the base in place.

Instead, what has me really wondering is the fact that the 'peer review' forces in the backfield appear to be going in motion once agin in an attempt to move the free safeties (i.e. the swing voters) over to the 'strong' side.

I'll have more to say about the specifics of that later.

But, in the meantime, you may want to have a quick look at a primer on the ladder of peer review, particularly as it pertains to the 'Harm Reduction Haters' Club', here.


If you want to hear the author of the diatribe/codswallop taken to task for having, essentially, nothing to go on, have a listen to an excellent, no-holds-barred interview from NW's Simi Paterson has another


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Of Mice And Hemingway...


If you were to hitch a ride on a cigar boat to Key West this morning you just might miss Jimmy Buffett.


Because the big show in town this weekend, apparently, is 'Hemingway Days':

KEY WEST (CBS Miami/FKNB/AP) – Men with long white beards will wander the streets of Key West this weekend for the annual Hemingway Days celebration. Only one will take the top honor at the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest.

The competition is the crowning achievement of stocky men who grow their beards and dress-up to look like Ernest Hemingway, the famous author who called The Conch Republic his home during the 1930s...


It was a very different show that a 22 year-old kid from Minnesota went looking for when he took a trip to the Keys to find the (not-quite-yet) Papa-in-Residence in 1934:

Arnold Samuelson was an adventurous 22-year-old. He had been born in a sod house in North Dakota to Norwegian immigrant parents. He completed his coursework in journalism at the University of Minnesota, but refused to pay the $5 fee for a diploma. After college he wanted to see the country, so he packed his violin in a knapsack and thumbed rides out to California. He sold a few stories about his travels to the Sunday Minneapolis Tribune.

In April of ’34 Samuelson was back in Minnesota when he read a story by Hemingway in Cosmopolitan, called “One Trip Across.” The short story would later become part of Hemingway’s fourth novel, To Have and Have Not. Samuelson was so impressed with the story that he decided to travel 2,000 miles to meet Hemingway and ask him for advice. “It seemed a damn fool thing to do,” Samuelson would later write, “but a twenty-two-year-old tramp during the Great Depression didn’t have to have much reason for what he did.”

And so, at the time of year when most hobos were traveling north, Samuelson headed south. He hitched his way to Florida and then hopped a freight train from the mainland to Key West. Riding on top of a boxcar, Samuelson could not see the railroad tracks underneath him–only miles and miles of water as the train left the mainland. “It was headed south over the long bridges between the keys and finally right out over the ocean,” writes Samuelson. “It couldn’t happen now–the tracks have been torn out–but it happened then, almost as in a dream.”...


In the end, Hemingway gave the kid a job as the caretaker of his boat so he could spend a year-long apprenticeship as both a sailor and a writer.

The kid later wrote an entire book about the experience.

And, in a twist befitting the juxtaposition, Hemingway ended up writing an entire letter about it, one of a series that was published every month in Esquire:

About a year and a half ago a young man came to the front door of the house in Key West and said that he had hitch-hiked down from upper Minnesota to ask your correspondent a few questions about writing. Arrived that day from Cuba, having to see some good friends off on the train in an hour, and to write some letters in the meantime, your correspondent, both flattered and appalled at the prospect of the questioning, told the young man to come around the next afternoon. He was a tall, very serious young man with very big feet and hands and a porcupine hair-cut.

It seemed that all his life he had wanted to be a writer. Brought up on a farm he had gone through high school and the University of Minnesota, had worked as a newspaper man, a rough carpenter, a harvest hand, a day laborer, and had bummed his way across American twice. He wanted to be a writer and he had good stories to write. He told them very badly but you could see that there was something there if he could get it out. He was so entirely serious about writing that it seemed that seriousness would overcome all obstacles. He had lived by himself for a year in a cabin he had built in North Dakota and written all that year. He did not show me anything that he had written
then. It was all bad, he said.

Besides writing this young man had one other obsession. He had always wanted to go to sea. So, to shorten this account, we gave him a job as a night watchman on the boat which furnished him a place to sleep and work and gave him two or three hoursʼ work each day at cleaning up and a half of each day free to do his writing. To fulfill his desire to go to sea, we promised to take him to Cuba when we went across.

He was an excellent night watchman and worked hard on the boat and at his writing but at sea he was a calamity; slow where he should be agile, seeming sometimes to have four feet instead of two feet and two hands, nervous under excitement, and with an incurable tendency toward sea-sickness and a peasant reluctance to take orders. Yet he was always willing and hard-working if given plenty of time to work in.

We called him the Maestro because he played the violin, this name was eventually shortened to the Mice, and a big breeze would so effectually slow up his co-ordination that your correspondent once remarked to him, “Mice, you certainly must be going to be a hell of a good writer because you certainly arenʼt worth a damn at anything else.”...

Sure does sound (and read) like a very different man than the walled-off old old one that another young writer went to find after the fact, in Idaho, some thirty years later.

"Ketchum (Idaho) was Hemingway's 'Big Two Hearted River', and he wrote his own epitaph in the story of the same name, just as Scott Fitzgerald had written his epitaph in a book called 'The Great Gatsby'. Neither man understood the vibrations of a world that had shaken them off their thrones, but of the two, Fitzgerald showed more resilience. His half-finished 'Last Tycoon' was a sincere effort to catch up and come to grips with reality, no matter how distasteful it might have seemed to him.

Hemingway never made such an effort. The strength of his youth became rigidity as he grew older, and his last book was about Paris in the Twenties.....Like many another writer, Hemingway did his best work when he felt he was standing on something solid - like an Idaho mountainside, or a sense of conviction."...

The young punk who wrote the passage above never wrote a decent lick or real fiction himself.

But he sure as hell could flat-out write.


When he was doing publicity for his first book about a bunch of thugs on two wheels three years later that same young punk, who was actually a hillbilly from Louisville who was just another scant three years away from penning his own 'Big Two Hearted River' piece at the time, said he wasn't very different from said thugs....Except for one thing...Which was that he had a gimmick...And that gimmick was?....Well....Like a few others in the various outer reaches of the Bloggodome that he helped create (whether he likes it or not), the Hillbilly really could write.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Third Generation...


Congratulations to the 2nd (and the 1st) generation paperboys too.

And the whole family.

What a great, great story...

For the record...The 2nd generation paperboy is an old, old bloggodomian friend who first got me interested in the audio/podcast/setlist game.


Bye-Bye Ms. Thomas


Most people of this generation probably remember Helen Thomas, who passed away today, from her two step with Stephen Colbert.

Tricky Dick would likely remember her a little differently.

And there will be all kinds of remembrances to come this weekend.



I remember her as the little old lady who scared the living crap out of the Shrubbery and all the Rovians too.

Just by asking a few questions...



Friday, July 19, 2013

Is Nate Silver Following The Lead Of The Good Docktor?


Imagine this, if you will...

The New York Times breaks the news of it's own demise.

Statistically speaking, at least:

Nate Silver, the statistician who attained national fame for his accurate projections about the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, is parting ways with The New York Times and moving his FiveThirtyEight franchise to ESPN, the sports empire controlled by the Walt Disney Company, according to ESPN employees with direct knowledge of his plans...


Before anybody starts snickering at Mr. Silver going to work for the Mouse Peoples' alphabet organ that covers the antics of the spandex-clad and steroid-fueled...

Don't forget who got there way before him.

Yes, that's right...

Hunter Thompson.

And here is the lede of one my favourites, from the 'Hey Rube' column that never quit:

Warren Zevon arrived at my house on Saturday and said he was in the mood to write a few songs about Hockey.

"Thank God you're home," he said. "I had to drive all night to get out of Utah without being locked up. What's wrong with those people?".....


You can find all of Thompson's 'Hey Rube' columns for ESPN-2, archived with titles and dates.....Here.
And what is this 'HST Fridays' business all about?...Well...This.


This Day In Snookland....Swing Teams Then And Now.


It all seems so long ago now...

The following is the lede from one of Cassidy Olivier's many bombshells, in The Province, back in March of this year:

Premier Christy Clark’s inner circle developed and executed a comprehensive strategy that used government resources for partisan purposes in an effort to advance the interests of the B.C. Liberal Party in swing ridings, The Province has learned.

Evidence of a second plan originating from the Premier’s Office that violates government standards of conduct and blurs lines between partisan and government work comes a day after the premier claimed no prior knowledge of the controversial multicultural outreach strategy.

Sources say the so-called Swing Team Strategy was executed through the Premier’s Office beginning in 2011 by Clark’s former principal secretary, Dimitri Pantazopoulos, a well-connected Tory, with involvement from Kim Haakstad, Clark’s former deputy chief of staff.

“Dimitri was the driving force behind the swing teams, from its inception through to the operational phase,” a confidential source told The Province. “Swing team leaders reported directly to him, and he co-ordinated activities between the teams and the party.”

Confidential correspondence provided to The Province places Pantazopoulos, who left the Premier’s Office in March 2012 and is now on contract with the B.C. Liberal Party, in a conversation with the leader of one of the swing teams.

Efforts to contact Pantazopoulos by publication deadline were unsuccessful....

Of course, since then there was an election.

On May 14th, 2013.

Which, according to the good Mr. Pantazopoulos at least (and maybe a fine fellow named Andrew Wilkinson too), means that anything that may (or may not) have gone down in the past no longer matters because, apparently, election success turns everything into unicorns and sparkle ponies.

Or some such thing.

How do we know this?

Well, in the wake of this week's revelations, via Emails and an interview, about how a former Clark government staffer (who was an apparent list-maker) was allegedly offered an inducement to not divulge potentially damaging information about said government (presumably relating to the afore-mentioned apparent list-making) Mr. Pantazopoulos sure is talking now.

Or, to be more precise, tweeting:

All of which has me wondering...

If the emergence of new, post-election evidence of attempted bribery is something that can be sparkle-ponied and unicorned away without a thorough, truly independent, investigation...


What, exactly, cannot?

Be disappeared, I mean.

And speaking of investigations that may or may not be entirely independent or thorough....Well, it turns out the suddenly loquacious Mr. P. has more to say about that too...Also via the Twittmachine.


My Morning Ride...


A few days of science-geek bunkering sandwiched between long stints in the cigar-tube always enhances my sense of cardiofitlessness.

But, strangely enough, the rest always gives my legs a boost.

So I was pumping hard over the little hillcock between Main and Nat Bailey along 30th this morning when I saw a kid of maybe five or six slowly, and so happily, skipping and spinning a few steps ahead of her Grandma. I'm pretty sure they were on their way to Hillside pool, both without a care in the world, for an early swim.


littler e. has one of her best friends from the early days of elementary school over for a few days. This particular friend moved away a couple of years ago before the grade sevening and the first year of high school happened.

And the two of them are growing up really fast, which I couldn't help but notice when I got home from New Cleveland last night.


By the sounds of it they were up without a care in the world until at least about 3am.

Which I really didn't mind.

And I didn't wake them up before I left for work either.


Even the Whackadoodle kept it down this morning.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

BC Ferries Giftcards?...Guess I-Pods Weren't Available.


You heard the story late last week....

A BC Ferries program to give workers $300 gift cards to encourage them to stay healthy is raising concerns with critics who say the public and the government are already paying too much for ferry service.

The publicly-owned company is planning to award as many as 3,000 employees with cards that will be redeemable at sports and recreation retailers or used to reimburse fitness centre fees.

The perk will cost BC Ferries about $900,000 and is meant to recognize employees for an “excellent safety record achieved in the past fiscal year.”...

Which sure reminded me, initially, of a bizarro-world variation of the Telus 'buy the workers off for an I-Pod rather than a fairly-bargained contract' strate(r)gy from awhile back.

But, as I said, that was my initial thought.

And then Laila Yuile heard from some readers which led her to contact a BC Spokesthingy to ask if the BC Ferries honchos decided to give themselves super, double-probation-secret across-the-board raises of something on the order of 10%.

The Spokesthingy did not answer the direct question either way, but she did tell Laila that BC Ferries Executive Compensation will be about two months late this year.


Did those that need it least use those need it most as deflector-spin outrage for what is to come?

They wouldn't do a thing like that....

Would they?