Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The States Of Mind


When we were young C. and I were lucky enough to spend a few years living and working in the East Bay across from the Bagdhad of Northern California.

In addition to the biology stuff I was doing it was an exciting time to be in an exciting place as the 1st big tech boom took off.

But more than all that it was the people.

All different kinds of people, mostly getting along.

Including El Cerrito, the home of the musical Fogerty brothers, that was a short bike ride under the BART tracks from where we lived.


This is the America that I know and love:

On top of everything else Bigger E. was born there so we head back every 2nd summer...This morning we're packing up to make our 10th trip since the year 2000...Will report back.
When we were there I worked in a US National Lab, and so got to see the interwebz come on-line with full graphical browser force, not to mention the first baby steps of the big data monster (strictly biologically speaking)...Very separate from all that, we also got to know a guy who had been an early-in at Pixar who, after vesting, went off and started a hypercard-based venture...That didn't last long but he did OK in the end. 


Friday, June 22, 2018

Is There A Viral Component To The Development Of Alzheimer's Disease?


Does a specific viral infection (or infections) contribute to the emergence of Alzheimer's disease?


A new paper in the scientific journal Neuron suggests this might be the case, based on both clinical correlation studies and functional experimental data.

The paper is....Here.

And you will find a very thoughtful, understandable and, perhaps most importantly, mostly hype-free commentary on the findings and implications in a Science Blogs post by Derek Lowe: 

"...A team led out of a Mt. Sinai research group has gone over a pretty large sample of Alzheimer’s brain tissue (622 patients who died with the disease, and over three hundred control brains as well), sequencing infectious organism DNA, looking for changes in the proteome, etc. They find that aging brains in normal patients display plenty of viral signatures (as indeed is probably the case in many other tissues). But the Alzheimer's disease samples were particularly enriched in herpesviruses 6A and 7, a result that repeated across three independent cohorts from different geographical locations...


...But are these viruses a cause of the disease, or are they something that shows up later? That is, do HHV 6A/7 give you Alzheimer’s, or does having Alzheimer’s bring on those viral infections? This has been the problem with many previous proposals for an infectious agent, and it’s a very difficult objection to overcome. I think that this is the first study, though, that has made it over that hurdle. The paper shows that viral DNA is, in fact, incorporated into neurons from the affected regions of the brain. What’s more, analysis of both protein and mRNA levels suggest that such infection produces changes in several transcriptional regulators (specifically, a set of zinc-finger transcription factors and G-quadraplex-associated proteins) that in turn affect expression of a number of very suggestive proteins downstream..."

It looks to be a pretty impressive, and potentially important, body of work. Furthermore, apparently there is more like it coming, independently, from another group.

But....Just to be clear, this is not in my field so it is entirely possible that I might be missing something obvious on the rigour side of the ledger.

Still, it made for most interesting reading late on an early summer Friday afternoon.

In case you haven't noticed, Mr. Lowe's blog and some other life/bio/medical sciency stuff can be found regularly over on the left side bar....I'll probably have more to say about this kind of stuff in the future as I struggle to occasionally fling myself from the endless poli-writing obsession cycles...


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Prop Rep...Training Camp For The Battle Royale Opens.


I am not an expert, but I am starting to pay attention, looking for honest brokers.

On the latter count, I'm not yet sure about Dipper MLA and musical law guy Bob D'Eith, but separate from some partisan sniping, I thought he made a few interesting broader perspective points in his recent GStraight OpEd, one of which was the following:

...In our current system, majority governments have absolute control over the direction of government. However, majority governments rarely reflect a majority of votes.

In fact, since 1928 there has only been one general election where a single party has received over 50 percent of the popular vote. That means that over the past 50 years, a party with less than 50% of the vote has held 100 percent of the power. It is time that our representatives in the legislature truly represent the votes cast by citizens...


Couldn't you make the case that a majority of voters (i.e. 57%) helped to put our current coalition government in power?

Which, I guess, is the larger point.


Meanwhile, the Keef has his say....With a line so short, cynical and fringey that it does not even deserve its own 'Report'...Because, I guess, fine folks like  Jim Shepard and Smilin' Sammy Sullivan represent the 'center-of-everything''...Or some such thing.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

This Is The End (Part Deux)...


Just in case you've got important stuff to do and haven't been keeping up on the Trumpian bonafides of one Mr. Stephen Miller, first consider the following by Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair:

...(A)s the border crisis spirals, the absence of a coordinated policy process has allowed the most extreme administration voices to fill the vacuum. White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has all but become the face of the issue, a development that even supporters of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” position say is damaging the White House. “Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border,” an outside White House adviser said...


With that in mind...



Is it possible that America's so-called paper of record has decided that the good Mr.  Miller's take on why he and his boss instituted their disastrous child separation policy is not newsworthy?

Need more context re: 'the tape' and the self-quislingification of the Grey Lady in her country's greatest hour of need?....It's here.


A Thing Rarely Seen In #BCPoli...


When scanning through the #bcpoli hashtag on the Twittmachine, rarely do you come across a thread that causes you to laugh out loud...



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Local Talkshow Host....Know Thine Audience!


Or not.

'Nuff said?


This Is The End...


From the United States of America's paper of record...

Cue Mr. Morrison and friends.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

For My Dad (And My Mom)...


Those of you who have been stopping by here for awhile now may be asking....

Why this post again? 

Because it's a tradition - that's why!

And, just in case you'd like a little musical accompanient while you read on...


My Dad spent his entire adult life working for tow-boat companies hauling all manner of stuff up and down the west coast, from Alaska to California, and sometimes even across the water to Hawaii.

And he was pretty well paid for doing that job, especially once the 1970's arrived.

And while I know that part of the reason for my Dad's increasing salary, which helped make it possible for me to go to college, a first in our family, was the damned good job he did as he began to work on ever bigger boats like, say, this one, I also know that in large part I owe my shot at a higher education to his union.

How do I know this for sure?

Because I also know that my Mom, who was climbing the ladder working in ever bigger branches on ever bigger jobs with ever bigger responsibilities of one of our country's biggest banks at the very same time my Dad was hauling logs, got paid peanuts by comparison for doing her non-union job.

But that does not mean that my Mom's passing down of her ability to be analytical, sometimes in the extreme, did not help me get to college too and, maybe even more importantly, help me become a full-fledged science geek in the end.

My mom passed away awhile back after a long, slow decline that left my Dad doing a whole lot of the work and the worry of taking care of her after his days of working for a living/pay cheque were long done. It was a tough lot that gave him little time or space to do much else. Which is why it was so special when he came over from the Island awhile back to see littler e's last big local dance show as a kid*.

Anyway, with all that said, below is my now traditional F-Day post for my Dad....


I really do live a charmed life.

I have a wonderful wife and two great kids.

I also have a job I actually like, where most of the time I get to do what I want while working with people (also mostly kids) to produce stuff that we are all really proud of.

And that job pays me well; not hockey player money well, but I make more than I ever dreamed of. Which, of course, means that I make just enough that we can afford to live in our own house within the Vancouver city limits.

In fact, I guess some might say that I am upwardly mobile enough that I should quit all my complainin' because I'm one of the lucky ones that actually benefits financially from many of the 'well-off folks first!' policies of Mr. Campbell and Ms. Clark et al.

But here's the thing.....

I am most definitely not one of those 'ladder puller-uppers'

You know, somebody who's got theirs, and now says, "Screw you Jack," to everybody else.


I'll tell you why.

It's because of my Dad.......

My old man was a Union man.

And the folks in the Union fought like bastards...and they fought constantly, usually for the tiniest of things in each successive contract...things like an extra quarter percent on a COLA clause, or one little add-on like an extra free filling per year on the dental plan.

And when I was a kid, especially during that time when I was a barely no-longer-a-teenager-aged kid, I thought the folks from the Union were just a little bit off their nut....all that energy going into what, exactly?

After all, it was the 80's, and Dave Barrett and the Socialist Hordes were long gone, and the Wild Kelowna boys were rolling along, and Unions were bad, and Expo was coming, and Trudeau was going, and John Turner was hiccupping, and Mulroney was lurking, somewhere off in the distance....

....And if you were a half-bright, apolitical science-geek kind of kid like me, breezing your way through college and thinking about graduate school, you laughed when you saw the boy wonder from Burnaby, Michael J. Fox, shirk his Family Ties and ape the young Republicans while making fun of his willfully neutered Leftie of a Dad on the TV screen...

....And if you were that kid, you thought that you were living in a golden age that was tied, not to the social democratic reforms of the past, but to the coming of Free Trade and the promises of the Reaganites from the South...

...And from that perspective you sure as heck didn't always get the irony of Bruce Springsteen singing about the plight of the working class in 'Born in the USA'.

But now that I have spent a good chunk of time in USA where I started a family of my own before coming home, I do get it.

I understand that my Dad spent his entire adult life hauling logs up and down the West Coast, working his guts out to help keep the robber baron families rich because he had to make a living to support his own family....

....And I get the fact that, because of the Unions, my family's standard of living gradually improved, bit by bit, over the years so that by the time I had grown up to be that callow young man described above my parents had saved enough to help me go to University....

....And I get the fact that I was the first one in my family who got to go to University....Ever.....And it wasn't because I was so damned smart....

....And I get the fact that, while my parents' limited financial help and support was important, it would never have been enough to get me into the same good schools if I had arrived on the scene a single generation earlier or, perhaps, later....

....And I get the fact that those Wild Kelowna Boys, and all the other neo-cons that have come since, have been doing their damndest to destroy the dream of a University education for all, and instead have instituted an elitist education for some and one-trick-pony Technical training for everybody else.....

....And I get the fact that, if it wasn't for folks like my Dad and the other lefties of his time, my current world, one in which I make a living with my eyes and my mind wide open, would not be what it is today.....

....And most of all, I now get the fact that my Dad was, and is, my hero.

Photo at the top of the post...My Dad and my youngest brother getting ready for a highly ritualized Samuri Fishing Rod Sword Fight (to the death!) up at Spectacle Lake at the top of the Malahat on Vancouver Island in the early/mid-70's.
Photo at the bottom of the post...My Mom with somebody's kid, probably one of my much younger cousins, at the picnic table in our daisy-filled old back yard on Monterey Ave. in Victoria that was the scene of a thousand-and-one-before-and-after-dinner soccer and/or cream-'em games (although the latter were more often in the front yard for some unfathomable reason) also probably from the middish '70's...And if I'm wrong, rest assured that my brothers will be sure to correct me!
*For the record that does not mean that littler e's dancing days are done...In fact, in the last year she has danced in both New York and Europe....
And as you might (or might not) have predicted,  writing the last line, above, flung the following ear worm into my brain...Surprise!


Friday, June 15, 2018

Are The Grassroots Protests Gold-Plated And/Or Diamond Encrusted?



Are all those anti-Eby 'grassroots' protests gold-plated?

Why do I ask?

Because stunts like the following are not cheap.


Subheader giving you an earworm?....This!


Did The USA Just Demonstrate That It Still Can Be A Nation Of Laws, Not Men?


Well, well, well, whaddy'a know....

It looks like Donald Trump's former campaign manager and long time associate, Mr. Paul Manafort, will be heading to jail BEFORE his trial even begins.


It turns out that he was trying to contact witnesses with an at least perceivable intent to tamper.

Spencer Hsu and colleagues from the WaPo have the story. Here is a couple of chunks from their lede:

A federal judge ordered Paul Manafort to jail Friday over charges he tampered with witnesses while out on bail — a major blow for President Trump’s former campaign chairman as he awaits trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges next month.

“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort. “The government motion will be granted, and the defendant will be detained.”

The judge said sending Manafort to a cell was “an extraordinarily difficult decision” but said his conduct — allegedly contacting witnesses in the case in an effort to get them to lie to investigators — left her little choice...


“This hearing is not about politics. It is not about the conduct of the office of special counsel. It is about the defendant’s conduct,” Jackson said. “I’m concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as another marketing exercise.”...


The real question is....Will only one of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen get an immunity deal for flipping?

And, if so, does that further mean that the race is on?

The subheader is a straight-up rip-off of Marcy Wheeler's post on these developments...If you want to keep up with all things TrumpRussia in an analytical/informed, as opposed to a 'He Said/She Said', way you should read her blog (and the comments) daily....They're all here.
Of course, the current American president responded pretty much as you might expect...


For The Moment, At Least, It Would Appear That Up Is Not Down...


The Supremes have ruled on the Trinity Western College 'covenant' thing. Here is the lede from the MoCo:

A B.C. Christian university has lost its legal battle over accreditation for a planned new law school, with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling today saying it's "proportionate and reasonable" to limit religious rights in order to ensure open access for LGBT students.

In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the majority of justices found the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario have the power to refuse accreditation based on Trinity Western University's so-called community covenant.

The mandatory covenant binds students to a strict code of conduct that includes abstinence from sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

The majority judgment said the covenant would deter LGBT students from attending the proposed law school, and those who did attend would be at risk of significant harm

It found the public interest of the law profession gives it the right to promote equality by ensuring equal access, support diversity within the bar and prevent harm to LGBT students....

Which is a good thing, of course.

Especially when, according to a TWU spokesthingy I heard on the MoCo radio news earlier this morning, one of the school's arguments was that  'diversity' should be able to deal with their bigotry (the same argument kinda/sorta is made by a faculty member in the piece linked to above).


SubHeader is from Norm Farrell via the Twittmachine.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Up Against The Wall With Jerry Jeff Walker...


Last night we talked a bit about raconteur Todd Snider's amazing story that involved one of his musical heroes, Jerry Jeff Walker.

Which induced a certain reader, a fellow whom most of you know in one incarnation or another, to leave the following comment:

One of the very best concerts I have ever been to was at the Commodore in the late 1970's. Jerry Jeff was pretty hammered (as was the whole crowd come to think of it). The atmosphere was terrific! 

I have been a bit disappointed in Jerry Jeff as he worked the corporate circuit for a decade or so. Seemed so far removed from attitude of his earlier self (course some might say that about me! :)....

Here is one of that commenter's favourite JJW tunes:

Regarding the sub-header....I know all kinds of personages and/or media organ grinder monkeys have turned off their comments for all kinds of good reasons...However, I still find, especially if you pay attention and actually join in, that they are one of the great bonuses of this dying breed/single shingle blogging thing.


The Keef Report...Credit Where Credit Is Due.


I find it most interesting, but not at all surprising, that the usual suspects on the local sportstalk radio stations* are bleating the loudest about how it is a travesty that we are not planning to shovel small mountains of money into FIFA's jaundiced gullet just so we can have the chance to pay even more money to watch, say, Paraguay play Iceland in 2026.

But imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the following...

Imagine that!

*As you may have guessed (or remembered), at least two of said suspects got in early and often on the shill campaign for the 600 million dollar magic carpet that now 'crowns' BC Place stadium....You know, that bit of fabric that later turned out to be a deal breaker for the BCL-connected crony representing the fine folks from Vegas who subsequently got even more of sweetheart deal from the former BCL government.
Previous Keef Reports can be found...Here.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Redemption Song...But Not The Bob Marley Tune.


Most folks who go into jail with nothing don't come out the other side with a song for the ages.

That was not the case for Jerry Jeff Walker, the guy who wrote Mr. Bojangles behind bars.

Todd Snider tells the story in the clip below.

Then, after the story is done, the real magic ensues...

Subheader?...A digression in Mr. Snider's story that is a real kicker - click on it!
How'd I stumble onto this one?....Blame the guy playing the guitar on the left and the woman who saved his life on the right...That bit is explained (kinda/sorta)....Here.


Why Wait For A Pardon (Way) Later When You Can Get Flippity Today?


Apparently, according to various proMedia insiders of the evilish accessible kind, including ABC's George Snuffulupagus, the good Mr. Michael Cohen will soon have no lawyers.

Which is leading to speculation like the following:

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime confidant and former personal attorney, is likely to cooperate with federal investigators, as his lawyers are expected to leave the case, sources said...


Those tiny twitter fingers, they sure must be twitching...


Subheader subtext?.....This!
It really is like we've landed in a pineapple-upside-down-HST cake kind of world...


Jason Kenney Goes Full Metal HST...


The latest from the man who appears to be a strange amalgam of under-inflated Michelin tires and no-longer non-stick taffy-coated teflon:


Whatever might the good Mr. Kenney call for next...

The ripping up of Calgary's streets with jack hammers, followed by sodding, so that the junk asphalt (after melting) can be used to create a huge parking lot and auto-storage facility on the outskirts of town?


Changing the name of of said town to 'Fat City' to prevent greedheads, land-rapers and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name Calgary?


You know...

Alternatively, if this extreme 'fun thing' is really the way JK wants to go, he could always hire little Johnny Baird as his illustrator and they could sneak out onto the Bow river in a rowboat under the cover of darkness to spray paint 'F*ck the Stampede' on the underside of the Peace bridge....Or some such thing. 
And, just to be clear, this is not the first time we have used HST's 'Battle of Aspen' manifesto to make a weird and twistable political point....Furthermore, it will not be the last.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Who Could Possibly Mediate US-Canada Peace Talks?


Who could act as the go-between in very bigly de-escalation talks between the orange mullet and the socks guy?

The New Yorker's resident political snarkoleptic, Andy Borowitz, has a heck of an idea:

SINGAPORE (The Borowitz Report)—One day before his summit with Donald J. Trump, the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, has offered to host peace talks between the United States and Canada.

Speaking to reporters at his hotel in Singapore, Kim said that the rising tensions between the North American neighbors were posing an “intolerable threat to world peace.”

In addition to offering to host U.S.-Canada talks in Pyongyang, Kim urged the immediate creation of a demilitarized zone along the border separating the two hostile nations....

Sure, in reality, this suggestion sounds crazy on its face.

But have you heard the 'real' news lately?


Saturday, June 09, 2018

Laila Has Left The Building.


It was hard not to notice that Laila Yuile was spending less time blogging over the last year or so.


It turns out that now she has decided to call it quits for good:

After so many months of not blogging, it feels weird to be even drafting a new post-it doesn’t flow smoothly and after several attempts this is how I’ll just start: a response to an email….

“Hey Laila, why don’t you blog anymore?

Because I’m tired…tired of preaching to the choir.

Because I still believe that in politics its important to do what is right…not just what’s politically expedient ( hey Trudeau, that includes you- you never mentioned real change only referred to your socks..)

Because that isn’t what’s happening right now.

Because I see too many on the left still willing to turn a blind eye to the failings of their own parties-we expect it from the right,show how you are different.

Because that last reason is exactly how and why the BC Libs became so arrogant and corrupt...


...Because I feel like after a decade of blogging and columns I couldn’t make a dent in the adversarial, toxicly partisan nature of politics that makes people tune out and not vote.

Because most people still fail to understand their vote is tremendously powerful and the only way to stop the Trumps & Fords of this world.

Because it isn’t that I stopped caring,but cared so much about all of this that it made me sick.

Because everyone has a limit…and I finally reached mine…

Laila will be greatly missed.

And she should never, ever think that she didn't both raise the level of discourse and move the needle significantly in #BCPoli.

Because she did, big time.


One of my favourite battling Laila stories from the salad days of RailGate, which also included her then partner in crime-stopping GAB, can be found...Here.


Revolt(ing) In West Vancouver...The Progressive Tax Upside Down Cake.


The North Shore News sent Jeremy Shepherd to cover that recent 'Tax the gold dirt' town hall in West Vancouver.

And, of course, the sound-bite that is getting all the attention is the one from the very fine real estate fellow who garnered cheers from the crowd when he (allegedly) got carried away and called for the summary execution of current government members.

But the bit I found most bizarre was the following:

...The taxes will have a “trickle-down effect” on baristas and recent university graduates, (West Van Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Gabrielle) Loren predicted.

“Employers are no longer going to give the raises that they used to,” she said...

Which would mean nothing if it was just some one off.

Instead, however, I'm pretty sure we'll see Mr. Loren, or some other reasonable facsimile thereof, on a supper hour news show spouting this nonsense, and being taken seriously, any day now.

If you get my drift.



Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Is CremeVille The Tail That Is (Super Secretly) Wagging The BC Liberal Dog?


A while back we wondered why, exactly, the good Mr. Wilkinson and his compatriots aren't going all in to overtly* back the fine folks on the western most edge of Lotusland in their revolt against being asked to pay their fair share on their massive creme-laden, dirt-driven investment windfall.


Turns out we had missed the following from Jesse Ferraras at Global News:

Most BC Liberal voters are on board with housing measures introduced by the BC NDP government — including the additional school tax, which has been a focal point of the Liberal Party’s time in opposition.

That’s what it said in a poll released by Research Co. on Tuesday. It showed that most respondents in British Columbia were in favour of housing measures including an increase in the foreign buyers’ tax, the yet-to-be-implemented speculation tax as well as the new school tax...

{snippety doodle dandy}

...Over three-quarters of respondents who identified as BC Liberal voters (77 per cent) approved of increasing the foreign buyers’ tax from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, 65 per cent of these voters supported expanding the foreign buyers’ tax outside Metro Vancouver.

The poll also found majority support (60 per cent) among BC Liberal voters for the additional school tax of 0.2 per cent on homes worth $3 million to $4 million, and 0.4 per cent of the portion of a home’s value above $4 million...


Rank and file BC Liberal identifiers like the fact that David Eby is asking the windfall guzzlers who walk among them to pay a little more to help everyone?

Would-a thunk it!

*With party-branded signs and more!


Friday, June 01, 2018

BCPoli's Big Reveal Of 2018.



I know that a lot of very big, and often very good (but not always), things went down in our fine legislature over the last four months.

But the following, as detailed in a VSun piece by Harrison Mooney, while not all that important in the big scheme of things is fantastic just the same:

In April of 201(8?), the Twitter account @bcpoliportraits appeared. It featured a steady stream of crudely drawn likenesses of the politicians and journalists who frequent the legislature — from Premier John Horgan to Postmedia’s Mike Smyth and Vaughn Palmer. And of course, Keith Baldrey, a frequent target of @bcpoliportraits. The Global TV political journalist has been drawn 12 times.

All anyone knew was that the portraitist had to be an insider, as the sketches also included clerks and security guards stationed in areas off-limits to the public. Pressed for an identity by Postmedia recently, the artist responded with a sketch of a ghost.

She’s not a ghost. Her name is ZoĆ© Duhaime. The 23-year-old is a recent University of Victoria graduate, and was part of the B.C. legislative internship program, which wrapped up Thursday with the end of the spring sitting.

Duhaime said she began the account “100 per cent for the fun and delight of it.”...

(number in bracket, above, mine)


How can you not like something as whimsical and completely non-partisan as that?

As for the Keef obsession?


I can relate to that.

Sort of.

Regarding legislative goings on that really matter for all British Columbians... David Moscrop, who I've come to regard as a proMedia(ish) honest broker, has a good piece in Macleans on our electoral reform-a-palooza....Here.