Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Wonder Of The Ones.


When I'm playing with the old guys we like to cover one hit wonders.

Sometimes sans the hits, but just about always straight ahead, four-on-the-floor type stuff.

Or, when needed, punked up and, preferably, ska-ified.

All of which means it can be tough to get them to do anything even slightly folk-tinged but somehow I managed to get them to agree to do that old Violent Femmes tune 'Blister In The Sun'.


A couple of weeks ago after catching a fantastic live performance on the KEXP live session by a group of young kids who call themselves 'Boy Genius', I went down the rabbit hole listening to and checking out the backstory of the budding super group's various members.

And I came across the following in an LA Times profile of Phoebe Bridgers from a couple of years ago:

...In February she heads out on a headlining U.S. tour — a definite step up from the opening slots she played over the last couple of years with the likes of the War on Drugs and the Violent Femmes.

The latter trek was especially rough, she admits.

“They were so cool, but I forgot they have a radio hit,” she says, referring to the folk-punk trio’s early-’80s staple “Blister in the Sun.”

“That’s what drunk moms in Montana came to hear, and they don’t care at all about who’s on before — or about any other Violent Femmes songs, for that matter.”...

As for my own stripped-downiest version of the tune in question?

Well, I'm not sure Drunk Mom's anywhere, including those who hail from in Missoula in Big Sky country, would be clamouring for, or even requesting, it.

But what the heckfire!

Here goes....


Friday, August 30, 2019

What's In A Number?


From the good folks at the MoCo...


This morning when I rode across town towards the place where I work out on the pointy bit of grey at the far western edge of Lotusland I noticed that regular had been jacked to $1.52 per litre at the two stations at the corner of Oak and King Edward.

Then, when I rode back while chasing the returning crows early this evening the same stations were selling the same product for $1.39.

Explain that!


Thursday, August 29, 2019

All Their Bathtubs 'R Them.


"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years," he says, "to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."


The BC Liberal Party seems to think they might get some traction with their latest smear if they appeal to their better angels.....errrr....influencers:

But here's the thing.

Even the Dean of the Legislative Press Gallery, the VSun's Mr. Vaughn Palmer, was able to call this one, straight-up, with no cynical 'both-sides' shading three years ago:

...(The BC Liberal government) ordered ICBC to begin accumulating substantial capital reserves as part of the effort to “level the playing field” with private insurers. But by late in the decade the reserves had generated huge surpluses, raising a debate about what to do with the money.

The ICBC board recommended giving it back to the customers. The surplus existed because they’d paid, or rather overpaid, for their auto insurance. So the board said the money should be returned in a one-time rebate, pro-rated to folks with the best driving records.

The Liberals greeted this recommendation with only slightly less contempt than if the board had suggested flushing the cash down the toilet in the executive suite.

Give the money back? To the public? Were they nuts?

Enter the ICBC dividend, accounting euphemism for the cabinet orders that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars out of the ICBC accounts and deposited them into the provincial treasury. At a time of economic retrenchment, the money helped pay for programs and reduce the operating deficit.

Then came another money transfer, no less politically expedient than the first, which saw funds diverted from the optional reserves to hold down rates for basic insurance. The combined tab for these two accounting dodges is $2.6 billion and counting...


One can only wonder...

If this one fails, will the braintrust backing the good Mr. Wilkinson decide to blame Joy McPhail for facilitating the sale of BC Rail by failing to file an FOI request?


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Are Green Eggs Now Ham?

...Or, perhaps, artificially orange-coloured spam?

Strange days indeed.

In this case, today's earworm is actually apropos of....Everything.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Extremism Is Our True (Non-Microbial) Scourge.


There is a legislative movement afoot in California to close a loophole that allows folks to shield their kids from public school vaccinations due to dubious medical exemptions.

Given that that state currently has a reality-based assembly and senate the bill will soon likely end up on the governor's desk for signing.

All of which has the more extreme anti-vaccination folks whipped into a frenzy.

Hannah Wiley has that story in the Sacramento Bee:

...Now, as lawmakers head into the final weeks of this year’s legislative session, anti-vaccine advocates are turning to an out-of-state political operative known for provocative campaigns in a last-ditch effort to undermine a bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom has already indicated he’d sign.

The consultant, Jonathan Lockwood of Oregon, charges that California leaders are ready to “sacrifice children” by compelling more kids to get vaccines through Senate Bill 276.

“Any lawmaker who votes yes on SB 276 will have blood on their hands. It’s up to each of them to decide if they will be accessories to the real human cost of this lethal legislation,” wrote Lockwood. “How much is a life worth? Will lawmakers sacrifice children for political purposes or will they acknowledge and act according to the truth?...


...“I was instrumental in defeating the bill as a spokesperson in the Capitol by day, and strategist by night,” Lockwood said.

The vaccine debate in California has also been among the most heated this year. Hundreds of people have packed committee hearings on the bill.

It inspired Twitter battles between actor Rob Schneider and SB 276 co-author Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and prompted celebrity activism on both sides of the aisle.

Bricks were mailed to lawmakers on committees considering the measure, including Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento. His office said about 40 bricks carried messages like “Vote No on SB 276.”

“Legislation should not be shaped by people bullying and intimidating, or threatening your representative’s life and family,” argued (state senator Richard) Pan, who said he’s received death threats. “We can have disagreements, that’s fine. How do we resolve that? Through the political process defined by our constitution and the laws we created.”...

And that has surgeon/scientist 'Orac', who, in my opinion, writes an excellent blog that pushes back against quackery and pseudoscience, worried:

...I can’t help but point out that I’m more worried this time. I’ve discussed the violent rhetoric of the antivaccine movement on more than one occasion. Now, death threats are nothing new. Paul Offit, for instance, has been getting them for a long time. I’ve even gotten the occasional one. I do fell, however, that it’s getting worse. When you have people out their like Del Bigtree saying “now’s the time” for guns and exhorting antivaxers to fight and die for freedom and antivaxers cosplaying a violent fictional terrorist, you have to wonder whether it’s a matter of when, not if, an antivaxer acts on the increasingly intense rhetoric. Sure, the leaders turning up the heat on the rhetoric are never going to actually take up arms, but antivaxers listening to them might...

Very worrisome, indeed.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Is There Anything More Melancholy Than...


...An Em chord played off the Key of C in the dying, end of summer red sky night?

Hit me like a ton of bricks as I was going through the progression for this tune while walking down the alley with the Whackadoodle before bedtime:

The Whackadoodle turned 11 this summer and she's in tough with a congenital heart valve condition that has worsened over the last six months or so...It's causing fluid to back up in her lungs. She still likes to run the beach on Saturday mornings though...Just takes her most of the rest of the weekend to recover...


Cover Thee...

Putting these here because a few mobile readers who can't see the sidebar asked...


Friday, August 23, 2019

HST Friday...Requiem For A Koch Bro.


From the latest in a long line of posts on the subject of climate at the very fine Fraser Institute website by Patrick Murphy dated August 16, 2019:

...(A)s Canada’s political parties rollout their climate plans for the federal election in October, I’m here to report to Canadians that many of the extreme policy ideas you’re hearing will do more harm than the climate change they are meant to prevent.

For example, consider the popular idea of limiting cumulative global warming to (at most) two degrees Celsius or (if possible) 1.5 degrees Celsius. These targets have become so mainstream that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report last fall advising governments on various policies that could give humanity a shot at hitting the 1.5 degree target.

But according to the most reputable work on the topic, achieving that target would cause far more harm than benefit...


One of the world's most wealthy and vocal climate change deniers, Mr. David Koch, died today.

Ryan Cooper explains how hard Mr. Koch worked to get the great unwashed to ignore the climate thing in The Week:

David Koch, one of the two infamous billionaire Koch brothers, died Friday at the age of 79. The Wall Street Journal is quick to point out that, in addition funding a vast conservative political network, Koch gave about $1.3 billion of his nearly-$60 billion fortune to various philanthropies. But what Koch may ultimately be most remembered for is helping to seed the climate-change denial movement in the 1990s. Indeed, David Koch was one of the most powerful people in the world over the last three or so decades, and he did his level best to stymie any effort to stop the biggest threat to human society.

The Kochs' place in funding climate denial is covered well in the recent book Kochland by Christopher Leonard. They were big funders of a key 1991 Cato Institute conference, which mobilized furiously after President George H.W. Bush announced he would support a climate change treaty. They went on to spend gargantuan sums boosting up the handful of credentialed scientists who deny climate change, funding climate-denying "think tanks" and publications, donating to climate-denying politicians (and refusing money to those who don't), and so on...

And it turns out that Mr. Koch and his brother did not just give money to American think tanks of a certain bent.

Beth Hong had that story in the (then) Vancouver Observer way back in 2012:

"The Fraser Institute, Canada's leading right-wing think tank, received over $4.3 million in the last decade from eight major American foundations including the most powerful players in oil and pharmaceuticals, The Vancouver Observer has learned.

In May, it was found that the US oil billionaire Koch brothers gave the Fraser Institute half a million dollars since 2007..."

And, as of this year, DeSmog Blog and Greenpeace estimate that the new number is approaching $1.5 million.


Why, exactly, do the super wealthy go out of their way to fund super fine institutes that, in my opinion, often do their level best to get the serfs to ignore reality such that said serfs can then be convinced to act in their own worst interests?


I think the good Docktor may have figured out the mind state of such folks and their relationship to the serfs who live 'beneath them' while travelling through South America a long, long time ago, in 1963.

Back then Hunter Thompson toiled not for Jann Wenner but instead for a very different National Observer than the one we know today:

"...One of my most vivid memories of South America is that of a man with a golf club - a five-iron, if memory serves - driving golf balls off a penthouse terrace in Cali, Columbia. He was a tall Britisher, and had what the British call 'a stylish pot' instead of a waistline. Beside him on a small patio table was a long gin-and-tonic, which he refilled from time to time at the nearby bar.

He had a good swing, and each of his shots carried low and long out over the city. Where they fell, neither he nor anyone else on the terrrace that day had the vaguest idea.....Somewhere below us, in the narrow streets that are lined by the white adobe blockhouses of the urban peasantry, a strange hail was rattling down on the roofs - golf balls, 'old practice duds,' so the Britisher told me, that were 'hardly worth driving away'...


Weirdly, the version of the 'National Observer' that the young Mr. Thompson worked for did/does not employ Sandy Garossino....Ironically, HST's NatO was owned by the then parent company of the now Koch friendly Wall Street Journal, the Dow Jones & Company...Imagine that!
Back when I was a young trouble(ish) maker, my friends and I invented a slightly gonzoish pursuit called 'punk golf'. The goal was not to get the ball in the hole with the fewest number of strokes. Instead, the idea was to get it the thing down in the least amount of time... There was no waiting around for the guy who was away to hit first...It was all running, swinging and ducking for cover all of which made for a whole lot of divot making...For the record, we never played it on the declasse public course where we were junior members for 50 bucks a year if you get my drift...And, ya, you read that $50 number right...
Photo at the top of the post is from a most entertaining piece by Terry McDonnell in Esquire about playing golf with Thompson and George Plimpton, on acid, in Aspen in the year that Orwell broke...


Thursday, August 22, 2019

This Is The (Way) The Modern World (Should Work)!



I know that the the latest outbreak of Ebola is a very bad and scary thing for all those affected and for all those trying to help.

Here is the lede of a piece published earlier this week in the online, Boston Globe adjacent, biomedical mass media journal StatNews by Joel Breman:

In 1976, a mysterious viral disease swept through the isolated forest village of Yambuku in northern Zaire. I was part of the international team that investigated the outbreak, identified the virus causing it, and named it after the nearby Ebola River. The deadliness of the disease — of the 318 people infected with the virus, 280 died — captured the world’s attention, briefly.

Twenty years later, Zaire came apart at the seams, was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and became the theater of operations for two wars involving nine countries and more than two dozen militias. Those conflicts, centered at the eastern end of DRC, killed more than 5 million people but barely registered with the rest of the world. Armed militias continue to hold violent reign there.

Last year, in the middle of the former war zone, Ebola re-emerged, as it has 25 other times in sub-Saharan Africa. In this latest outbreak, 2,850 people have been infected with the virus to date and nearly 1,900 have died — the second-worst Ebola epidemic on record — and we are not close to containing it, despite the best efforts of a thousand health professionals on the ground...


Reading that, and seeing and hearing all about it on the electronic proMedia, you may have missed the news about the on-the-ground, multi-pronged clinical trial that has been going on during this latest outbreak.

The following is from a report in the straight science journal Nature by Amy Maxmen published just one month ago:

...The race to develop treatments for Ebola has accelerated since the largest epidemic in history devastated West Africa between 2014 and 2016. Scientists responding to the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have enrolled more than 500 participants in an unprecedented study of experimental drugs, vaccinated nearly 170,000 people, and sequenced the genomes of more than 270 Ebola samples collected from the sick.

“This outbreak is clearly a milestone for rigorous, good research,” says David Heymann, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “We will get definitive answers.”...


...Working in a conflict zone has forced researchers to adapt and persevere to an extraordinary degree. They have learnt how to conduct rigorous studies in areas where killings, abductions and arson are commonplace, and where Ebola responders have come under repeated attack. Although biomedical advances alone cannot defeat Ebola, scientists studying this outbreak remain hopeful that their growing knowledge will help end it — and limit those to come.

“It is not easy,” says Jean Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, a microbiologist who helped to discover Ebola and now directs the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa. “You are doing this and people are shooting.”

He and other Congolese researchers are also working to ensure that any advances will benefit their homeland, which has experienced more Ebola outbreaks than any other. “It is very important to have the research done here because at the end of the day, Ebola is our problem,” says Sabue Mulangu, an infectious-disease researcher at the INRB...

Which, in and of itself is a good thing, because this trial is being done the right way with responsible NGO's, first world researchers, and Congolese folks doing the real, hard slogging all working together for a common cause.

And then last week there was a report that the trial was being re-tooled in midstream for the very, best of reasons.

Kai Kupfershmidt had the story in the other big straight science journal Science:

A trial of four experimental Ebola treatments carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been stopped early after two of them showed strong signs of being able to save patients’ lives. The preliminary results were reported this morning by Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the partners in the study. The two treatments will now be made widely available and could help end the yearlong outbreak in the DRC, which has already killed more than 1800 people, scientists say...


...In the 41% of trial participants who sought treatment early after infection and had lower levels of Ebola virus in their blood, the two new treatments had astonishing success: Mortality plummeted to 6% in the Regeneron antibody group and to 11% with mAb114. (With ZMapp and remdesivir, mortality rates in people with low viral load were 24% and 33%, respectively.)...

This is not an outright cure as infected folks with high viral loads still succumbed at rates of 60% after they received one of the two treatments, which consist of antibodies that bind to the outer coat of the virus. However, the news here is really and truly promising because now, for the first time viable and efficacious treatment strategies are emerging that will give folks and powerful incentive to seek out medical help as early as possible. In addition, early results with a larger scale vaccine trial that is going at the same time are also promising:

...A separate study taking place in the DRC has shown that Merck’s Ebola vaccine, which has been given to 180,000 people in the current epidemic, also powerfully reduces mortality, even when it fails to prevent infection...

This really is the way the modern world should (and can) work.

Non-parenthetic earworm in the post title need scratching?....This.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Partisans Against Biker Molls.


The lede of 'that' story from Fred Lum of the Canadian Press:

A pre-election chill has descended over some environment charities after Elections Canada warned them that discussing the dangers of climate change during the coming federal campaign could be deemed partisan activity.

An Elections Canada official warned groups in a training session earlier this summer that because Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change, any group that promotes it as real or an emergency could be considered partisan, said Tim Gray, executive director of the advocacy group Environmental Defence...


Does that mean the Pacific Gazette will be in trouble with Elections Canada if it points out that leaving state secrets in biker moll apartments is not necessarily good policy?

The curtain came down yesterday (May 27, 2008) on the brief and embattled cabinet career of Canada's Foreign Minister after a scandal involving his relationship with a woman who was once linked to criminal biker gangs.

The gaffe-prone Maxime Bernier – who promised to send Burma aid on a plane that does not exist and was sworn in with the so-called bikers' moll on his arm –will likely be remembered for longer than he served as his exit cast fresh doubts on the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The resignation came only hours before a television interview with the Julie Couillard, 38, was due to be broadcast. Her life and loves have become a staple for the Canadian press as they have raked over her supposed live-in mobster lover who was murdered, her subsequent marriage to a biker and her latest relationship to the man who became Canada's Foreign Minister...


...Mr Bernier was forced to walk the plank just before Ms Couillard revealed on television she had discovered secret Nato documents in her apartment after one of the minister's visits. Within 24 hours of the classified documents being returned, Mr Bernier was out of a job...


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Edward Lewis, Hollywood Blacklist Breaker, 1919-2019.


Like a lot of kids growing up in the seventies, I got hooked on Dalton Trumbo's 'Johnny Got His Gun', the book not the movie, in my early teens.

And because of that I knew that Trumbo had been blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten, which caused great harm to his real moneymaker, screenwriting, for more than a decade.

In fact, because Trumbo refused to turn rat and name names to a congressional witch hunt called the 'House Un-American Activities Committee, he was convicted of contempt of Congress and spent almost a year in a federal penitentiary in 1950 before fleeing to Mexico where he wrote the scripts for a series of B-Movies under an assumed name.

I also knew that the blacklist broke in 1960 when Trumbo was given credit for writing the movie adaptation of the blockbuster 'Spartacus', starring Kirk Douglas.

What I didn't know was that it was a much lesser known fellow, a producer named Edward Lewis, who engaged Trumbo to write the screenplay, on the sly, in his bathtub.

Then, once Universal Pictures had sunken huge costs into the the film and there was no going back, Mr. Lewis forced the studio to credit Mr. Trumbo as the writer.

Mr. Lewis died this week at the age of 99.

Sam Roberts has an excellent obituary up at the NY Times.

It ends thusly:

...In 1959, Trumbo presented Mr. Lewis with an autographed copy of his book, “Johnny Got His Gun.” It was inscribed: “To Eddie Lewis — who risked his name to help a man who’d lost his name.”

That's some kicker, eh?

Here's something I didn't know...The entire blacklist thing was originally invented by a tabloid publisher named William Wilkerson who ran the Hollywood Reporter....Which just goes to show that, while these are interesting times were are currently living in, they are also tinged with a shade of the deja vu.


Friday, August 16, 2019

The Keef Report...Mackin Slammed.


First, the late night, in-depth dog park report from the Keef:

Next, the later night slammin':

No word yet regarding Mr. Mackin's willingness to wear the honorary 'Idiot Blogger' crown for a day...


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Salmon Farming...The Fauxification Of The Precautionary Principle.


Alexandra Morton has been doing a lot of heavy lifting to determine whether or not ocean-based salmon farming is a danger to wild fish stocks.

Here are excerpts from her piece from earlier this week in the Georgia Straight:

...In 2011, Creative Salmon knocked on Dr. Kristi Miller’s door at the DFO Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. They needed help figuring out why the Chinook salmon in their farms were turning yellow and dying. Miller is head of the DFO Molecular Genetics Laboratory in Nanaimo.

Miller detected piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, a new virus discovered only a few months earlier, as the cause of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation—HSMI—a disease spreading unchecked through the salmon farming industry in Norway...


...In 2017, we reported that 94 percent of farm salmon in markets are infected and that the virus has spread coastwide. But it is significantly more prevalent in wild salmon caught near salmon farms...


As Ms. Morton's piece points out, there is a raging debate about whether this specific virus poses a significant threat to wild fish. Ms. Morton feels that she and the folks she is working with have the evidence to indicate that this is, indeed, the case. As I am not an expert, I won't weigh in on the matter except to say that the calls for the DFO to engage in more research do not appear unreasonable.

However, the fact that the virus has been passed from farmed fish to wild fish in the waters of British Columbia indicates that other things can be passed between the two groups as well.

Which means, in my opinion, and in the opinion of at least one fish farming company, that there is cause for concern.

And how do we know that at least one farming company is concerned?

Well, they've gone out of their way to make better pens.

David Gordon Koch had that story in the Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News a few months ago:

Cermaq, a major aquaculture company, is hailing an experimental “closed containment” facility in Norwegian waters as a safer mode of fish farming, saying that it reduces interactions with the marine habitat.

A similar system could be introduced to Canadian waters by next year, according to David Kiemele, managing director for Cermaq Canada...


...He said that a barrier surrounding the net “limits potential interactions between our fish and the environment outside,” although he acknowledged that the experimental facility isn’t completely closed.

Seawater is pumped through the system from a depth of about 13 metres, he said.

“When you’re talking about parasites like sea lice and whatnot, very rarely do you find them down that deep in the water column,” Kiemele said...


'Sea lice and whatnot' are very rare down there according to Mr. Kiemele.

Don't know about you, but that does not give me the greatest of confidence that cross-contamination of, say whatnotish-type viruses will be eliminated.

Regardless, given their obvious concern about trying to stop cross-contamination why has the company  not just gone all the way and moved it's pens to tanks on land?

...Asked why the experimental pens are ocean-based – industry critics have called for fish farms to be removed from the sea entirely – Kiemele said that fish farming would require “a large amount of land” that could be used for other activities, including agriculture.

He also said that a land-based facility would consume large amounts of water and energy for pumping.

“From a practical and economical sense, at the moment it just doesn’t stack up,” he said, adding that the company could also continue to use its ocean-based leases this way...


The stacking of the math is the problem.

Now we get it.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Impeachability Probabilities...But What About McGahn?


A couple of weeks ago, I somewhat naively suggested that former White House Counsel Don McGahn might turn out to be Mister Trump's little Johnny Dean.

And last week the USian House Judiciary Committee pretty much made the same claim in its court filing that is seeking to have its subpeona enforced to have Mr. McGahn testify before it:

...McGahn is the Judiciary Committee’s most important fact witness in its consideration of whether to recommend articles of impeachment and its related investigation of misconduct by the President, including acts of obstruction of justice described in the Special Counsel’s Report...

All of which had me thinking I'd hit the conventional wisdom jackpot until I read yet another fine post from Marcy Wheeler that brought me up short:

...(The Judiciary Committee's) claim suggests that the House Judiciary Committee has a very limited understanding of its own inquiry and perhaps an overestimation of how good a witness McGahn will be.

I say the latter for two reasons. First, in the early days of the Russian investigation, McGahn overstepped the role of a White House Counsel. For example, even after his office recognized they could not talk to Jeff Sessions about the Russian investigation or risk obstruction, McGahn followed Trump’s orders to pressure Dana Boente on the investigation.

Plus, as the Mueller Report acknowledges, the NYT story that triggered one of the key events in the report — where Trump asked McGahn to publicly rebut a claim that he had asked McGahn to fire Mueller, which led him to threaten to resign — was inaccurate in its claim that McGahn had functionally threatened to resign (which was clear in real time)...

Look, I get it.

McGahn was, and likely still is a wee bit of a rat, despite Mr. Trump's bizarre protestations to the contrary.

However, don't forget that Mr. Dean was too before he decided to come clean and clear himself of Mistah Nixon's, not to mention history's, taint.


Might have to a have a re-think about all this, which will require a degree of paying attention that I just might not have the bandwith for at the moment, what with the new term looming just over the horizon.

Luckily, Ms. Wheeler throws out a couple of names that should shorten the search/read times:

...Jay Sekulow. Sekulow has done a number of things that don’t qualify for attorney client privilege, such as his conversations directly with Michael Cohen to write a false statement hiding the President’s ties to Russia. That goes directly to Trump’s sworn lies...


...John Kelly. He was at DHS for the beginning of Trump’s abusive immigration policies. He knows details of Trump’s security clearance abuses (and might actually give a damn about them). He should know details of the P(residential) R(ecords) A(ct) violations (and if not, should be accountable for why not). And he knows details of Kushner’s privatized foreign policy (and probably tried to control it). Kelly was a minor witness for Robert Mueller, but should be a key witness to any impeachment inquiry...



Monday, August 12, 2019

Folks I'm In Awe Of...


When we take road trips these days our soundtrack is made up of, more often than not, the shared podcasts squirrelled away on our phones.

Which, last week on our way to Gabriola Island, got us to talking about Ear Hustle, a pod that gets intimate about the human lives inside San Quentin prison.

Ear Hustle is one of my favourites but E. noted that you can't binge the thing because the depth, detail and impact of each episode becomes too much to bear when they are piled up on top of each other.

I couldn't disagree with that, but I did have a retort, which was:

"Fair enough, but I could listen to a podcast about Earlonne Woods anytime."


Earlonne Woods is one of the creative forces behind Ear Hustle who was, until very recently, serving 31-years-to-life for attempted armed robbery on a three-strikes-you're-out abomination.

Late last year, in one of his last acts as the Governor of California, Gerry Brown commuted Mr. Wood's sentence after 21 years.

A few months ago, with roles reversed, Earlonne told his story to Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Here's a small chunk, but the entire thing is well worth the listen:

GROSS: So something I found really interesting is that the group that is multicultural and not segregated by race or ethnicity is the group that's into, like - the nerds, the group that are into, like, sci-fi fantasy and stuff like that. And, like...


E WOODS: Hey - so I always go over to the L - I call them L7s. But I always go over to the fantasy game guys, and I'll just sit there for a minute and try to see if I even come close to understanding what's going on on that table.

POOR: It is a different world over there.

E WOODS: It is - they see something that I can't see. I don't think I have the vision to see it.

GROSS: So their...

E WOODS: I love it.

GROSS: Their brothers are the people who live in a similar world of fantasy as opposed to defining their brothers as being, you know, a skin color or ethnicity.

E WOODS: Right, right. And it's just about - you know, they accept anybody, you know? It's like - I think they're not under the constraints or the pressures to not accept people.

GROSS: Earlonne, how did you learn how to keep your calm and live in the kind of confined situation you were in during the more than two decades that you were incarcerated? You have to be able...

E WOODS: Well...

GROSS: ...To stay sane in a situation like that. And you also spent time in solitary, where it's very hard to stay sane.

E WOODS: Right. I'll say I've - on the second term - so the first term is where I did all the solitary stuff. But on the second term after - once you receive a life sentence, there's no guarantee that you'll ever be released from prison. So I think what kept me sane is that I had the philosophy where, I am going to live to the best of my ability every day that I have left on this Earth no matter where I'm at.

So it be at prison, I'm going to enjoy my day every day because at the end of the day, this is all I got, you know? I don't know what tomorrow brings, but I know what's happening today and right now. So I'm going to enjoy. And I think that's a shared philosophy with everybody that's in prison - is that you have to just deal with what's going on today, you know, and just not let the pressures of prison just get to your core and crush you.

Don't know about you, but I'm not sure I could have gotten to the same place under similar circumstances.

Image at top of the post is by Mark Murrmann for Mother Jones.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Things I Think About...


The founder of the separatist group 'Wexit Alberta' Peter Downing is on the stump and Global News is only too happy to help him amplify a message that, apparently, 3 of 10 folks in that fine province think is worth considering:

...Downing says he’s willing to give (Alberta Premier Jason) Kenney a chance with getting pipelines built and succeeding with constitutional challenges.

“If Jason Kenney does not deliver what Albertans want, they are going to give us a shot,” Downing said...


Can't help but wonder...

Now that Mr. Dunning has put Mr. Kenney on notice does this mean that the latter's super-fine war room will soon crank up its flying surrender monkey squadrons to blitzkrieg bop all things W(r)exit?


Reaching Peak Crazy...


Got back from the beach with the Whackadoodle yesterday morning (bird count: 3 eagles and a herd of herons) and fired up the tubes.

First thing I saw, of course, was reference to the death of the previously convicted hedge fund fellow.

And then I read the following from Charlie Pierce at his (still good) corp blog:

...How in the hell do they let this happen? The guy was incarcerated in the Manhattan Correctional Center. He already had made one try. He had to be on suicide watch. And the suicide happens the day after a massive document dump in which a woman who said she was one of Epstein's victims implicates an entire brigade of celebrity "clients," up to an including some European royalty? There almost can't be a dog more reluctant to hunt than this one...


...This country is losing what's left of its mind..

And only then did I head to the Twittmachine.

Here is what I saw on the sidebar...

And then, of coarsest, the stuff like this began to fly:

It would appear that everyone concerned has run out of sharks to jump (while carrying atomic-powered deflector spin skill saws set to eleventy billion).


Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Curse Of Clarklandia's Ever Shrinking Coattails (ctd.)...


As first noted by Bob Mackin more than a week ago, Ben Stewart has left the BC Liberal caucus over a matter that apparently involves a donation from his constituency assistant.

Well, as the VSun's Rob Shaw noted Thursday, this process was, according to Mr. Stewart, all started by his voluntary actions:

...“It’s kind of a very small issue, but because the individual is pursuing it and sending around accusations along with that, it makes it very difficult,” Stewart said. “So I thought the best thing to do was approach Elections B.C. and get clarity.”

Stewart said he made the move out of an abundance of caution. “I haven’t seen or heard complaints directly. This is all voluntary.”..

And as for this 'individual (that) is pursuing it', what, exactly, is that all about?

Mr. Shaw has more:

...Stewart stepped away from caucus last week after a constituency assistant complained to Elections B.C., alleging being forced to donate approximately $1,225 on Stewart’s behalf to the B.C. Liberal Party. That amount is near the personal maximum under B.C.’s new donation law, also described as the top-tier “Founders’ Club” level for B.C. Liberal Party members...


So, a staffer to Stewart complains to Elections BC about being forced to make a donation to the BC Liberals on Stewart's behalf and then, suddenly, Mr. Stewart acts 'voluntarily'.

Sure thing.

But here's the real question...

Who 'forced' the staffer to make the donation in the first place given the following:

...The B.C. Liberal Party confirmed Thursday it had refunded the donation in March after the constituency assistant contacted the party and asked for the money back...


Kinda seems like maybe there was very little at all that was truly voluntary in this entire process.

And note the date that the BCL braintrust paid the staffer back...March...As in five months ago compared to ten days ago when the emergency conference call that announced Mr. Stewart's step aside to caucus took place.


Friday, August 09, 2019

More! More! More! ... Public Money For Private Schools.


Jim Stanford, writing in the Star, lets us know that he is worried that Andrew Scheer's proposed, (and Hamish approved!) $4,0000 per annum per kid federal tax deduction will, in addition to costing us up to $2,000,000,000 a year, lead us down a path of no return.

Thing is, as Sandy Garossino pointed out a while back, and updated yesterday, we are already running down said path at breakneck speed.



HST Friday...Removing The Soul From That Cycle.


Stephen Ross is a billionare who sells a fitness lifestyle to progressive-ish folks through his companies Equinox and SoulCycle.

These folks are now mad at him because he's holding a big money fundraiser for Donald Trump.

Mr. Ross has responded with a statement that 'explains' his position:

...“I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions,” Ross said. “I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.”...

Which brings us to the good Docktor's thoughts on the matter...

...I believe the Republicans have never thought that democracy was anything but a tribal myth. The GOP is the party of capital...


Babies in Cages.

Image at the top of the post from a Vox piece by Matthew Yglesias and Dave Bennett for Getty Images.


Thursday, August 08, 2019

How Much Money Does A Newspaper Have To Make To Stave Off The 'Ghosting'?



How much money does a local newspaper have to make to stay robust enough that it can actually produce more than fluff and wire copy that folks actually want and are willing to pay for, either in digitial or dead tree form?

Well, if the paper is part of conglomerate it turns out that nobody knows.

Marc Tracy of the money making Grey Lady has the story:

Phil Luciano, a columnist at The Peoria Journal Star, got a story tip recently about Caterpillar, the heavy equipment company that was based in Peoria, Ill., for 90 years before a recent relocation to Cook County.

The tip seemed promising enough. But as one of only seven full-time reporters at the paper, he felt stretched too thin to do much about it.

“Who’s our Caterpillar reporter?” Mr. Luciano asked. “We don’t have one right now.”

In recent years, The Journal Star has been hit with the kind of cutbacks that have become common for newspapers nationwide as they steer a bumpy course toward a digitally focused future. The newsroom had more than 80 guild employees in the 1990s, and now has about a dozen.

The Journal Star is still the largest paper in downstate Illinois. But after covering more than 23 counties in its heyday, it now limits itself to three: Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford...


...“I know The Journal Star’s in the black,” Mr. Luciano said. “How much in the black do you have to be? That’s what drives us up a wall.”...


Hedge funds vultures.

That's why:

...The job of top editor has lost some of its old luster in this era of job cuts and hedge fund ownership. A vocation that once had a dash of grit and glamour has become more administrative, with a lot of bean-counting and heartbreak.

Neil Chase, the former executive editor of the Bay Area News Group, said that the news organization he oversaw regularly received profit targets from its owner, Digital First News — now known as MediaNews Group, a company controlled by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. To hit those targets, he had to slash costs.

During Mr. Chase’s tenure, from 2016 to the start of this year, layoffs and attrition cut the newsroom to around 165 from an already diminished staff of 240, he said.

Mr. Chase and his team tried to preserve the company’s core publications, The Mercury News in San Jose and The East Bay Times. And so the group’s weeklies — titles like The Walnut Creek Journal and The Los Gatos Weekly-Times — took a big hit.

“We gutted those papers by taking the journalism out of them,” said Mr. Chase, now chief executive of CALmatters, a nonprofit covering California state politics.

Those weeklies are now among the nation’s ghost papers. A typical issue contains items from stringers tucked in among articles from Bay Area News Group dailies...

And yet, here in Canada, rather than helping the scrappers and fighters who are trying to do more than generate empty 'ghost papers', we are all in for giving a leg up to the vultures.

Go figure.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Finding His Religion


Local Lotuslandian Media Listicle guy Justin McElroy has found his religion.

It is bicycling and the routes that help make it possible.

Thus, this...

I can't wait.

For those that aren't Adanac 'n craft breweries that is.


Monday, August 05, 2019

The Keef Report...But, What About Global News?


Hard to argue with that.


Perhaps the Keef could inform his employer.

Subheader earworm...This.
Hey...Jody Paterson has an important post up about 'The Great Hack' and the deep digital corrosion of democracy everywhere...And Mr. Beer 'N Hockey's latest, and the wee bit of back and forth it engendered, led me to look up Jackie Fuchs' (nee Fox of The Runaways) real story...I think we with the Y chromosomes have to realize that everything was not right with the '70's world for everyone.


Sunday, August 04, 2019

Normalizing Andy?


I haven't quite figured it out yet...

Will the craziest of the crazies split the crazy?

Or will he normalize it.


Saturday, August 03, 2019

My Charlie Gillett Experience.


I started this little F-Troop listed blog back in the dinosaur days just before the collective wave of Left Blogistan, as Jane Hamsher saw it, crested.

Back then I used to whip up my posts in the early mornings, often before work, down in the unfinished basement of the rickety old row house we lived in (and loved) at the time.

It was dark and a little dank, and the furnace was a bizarre natural gas conversion that consisted of a giant boiler-like thing that looked like a metal octopus with its mass of vent arms running off in all directions.

But I liked it down there. And we had just gotten decent broad band which meant that I could listen to the BBC World Service every morning as the sun came up while I typed, furiously, on my then still spiffy G3 Mac.

And the guy I liked to hear most on the Beeb was an old guy with a scratchy voice and a weird British accent that I couldn't quite place.

This was Charlie Gillett, who by then was pretty much obsessed with World Music.

And his obsessions, not to mention his enthusiasms were infectious.

As the Interwebz continued to open up, particularly from an audio perspective, I sought out Mr. Gillett more sporadically through the years until he died, sadly, of a horrible autoimmune disease that attacks the blood vessels in 2010.

After that I missed him and sometimes sought out archived versions of his old shows in the same way I do with the work of those wacky MIT-trained brothers from Boston who used to fix cars and make people laugh or a living.



Fast forward to last week when I got on a wee bit of a Mark Knopfler binge thanks to the interests of the Doctors of Distortion's real guitar player.

And, as is my nature given my own obsessions, this eventually led me to the original Dire Straits demos recorded in the summer of 1977, before the group even had a record contract.

Those demos were born fully realized and they are truly amazing...

And it turns out that the person who is perhaps most responsible for the entire planet, including a then teenaged me half a pre-digital world away, becoming gobsmacked by the Sultans and all that followed was a then still youngish fellow named...

...Charlie Gillett:

...The demo tapes were given to BBC Radio London DJ Charlie Gillett. Charlie played the tapes calling upon record company executives to sign this new band: enter John Stainze and Ed Bicknell. It is said that Phonogram A&R man Stainze was in the shower listening to the radio when he first heard Dire Straits. A few weeks later he signed the band to Phonogram's Vertigo label and Mark secured a publishing deal with Rondor Music. Towards the end of 1977 Ed Bicknell was working at the NEMS agency when he got a call from Stainze asking him to fix up some gigs for Dire Straits. Ed was invited round to Phonogram's offices in December where he heard the Charlie Gillett demo tapes. He was then taken to Dingwalls Club in North London to meet Dire Straits. The date was the 13th of December, 1977, and as he walked into the club they were playing Down To The Waterline. Ed recalls, "The first thing I noticed was that it wasn't necessary to stand at the back of the room; they were very quiet.

I'd just done The Ramones, who were deafening......The second thing I noticed was that Mark was playing a red Stratocaster, which immediately made me think of Hank Marvin, who I had idolised in the sixties." After hearing two or three numbers Ed decided that he wanted to manage the band. He was organising a tour for Talking Heads and was able to put his new band on the bill as the support act. Dire Straits were paid £50 per night for the Talking Heads tour; a ten-fold increase from their fee at Dingwalls. The rest - as is often said - is history...

Imagine that!

And just a quick note for anyone who actually bothered to click through to some of the ancestral posts linked to at the top of the page...This place really was a filled to bursting with sloppy drum comments in the old days, pre-Twittmachine...Alas, sadly, all that disappeared in the great Haloscream chainsaw comment massacre of late 2009....


Friday, August 02, 2019

The Keef Report...Every Possibility Under The Summer Sun.


Has the Keef's uber-doober, super-duper insider access card suddenly suddenly been cancelled, or what?

Need context?....This.


HST Fridays....Who Will Be Mr. Trump's Little Johnny Dean?


When the Watergate investigations first started Richard Nixon was riding high in the polls.

But as the focused reportage (rather than single in-'n-out news cycle hits) got rolling in earnest and the daily hearings on the TeeVee began in the spring of 1973 those positive numbers began to fall precipitously for months on end.

The biggest drop occurred during the summer of 1973 when millions of housewives and Hunter S. Thompson got hooked on the daily soap opera that was driven by the testimony of a scared straight former food soldier in Mr. Nixon's obstruction offensive named John Dean who suddenly decided to do the right thing and tell the truth.

Here's what Thompson had to say about that summer, and that TeeVee show that dominated it, not in Jann Wenner's pulp of quasi-fiction, but instead on the OpEd page of the New York Times on the first day of 1974:

There is some kind of heavy connection between that memory (of my childhood time as a milkman's foot soldier) and the way I feel right now about this stinking year that just ended. 

Everybody I talk to seems very excited about it. “God damn, man! it was a fantastic year,” they say. “Maybe the most incredible year in our history.”

Which is probably true. I remember thinking that way, myself, back on those hot summer mornings when John Dean's face lit my tube day after day incredible. Here was this crafty little fellow going down the pipe right in front of our eyes and taking Richard Nixon with him.

It was almost too good to be true. Richard Milhous Nixon, the main villain of my political consciousness for as long as I can remember, was finally biting that bullet he's been talking about all those years. The man that not even Goldwater or Eisenhower could tolerate had finally gone too far —and now he was walking the plank, on national TV, six hours a day—with the whole world watching, as it were...



If the current crop of Democrats does finally manage to get up the gumption to start a daily soap opera focussed on Mr. Trump's own obstruction offensive, who might turn out to be the Donald's little Johnny Dean?


Some might predict Michael Cohen.

But my money is on Don McGahn.

And, apparently, the good Mr. Trump is a little worried about that prospect as well, judging by his response to stories of his former counsel's reported cooperation with the Mueller team last summer:

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that White House lawyer Don McGahn isn’t “a John Dean type ‘RAT,”‘ making reference to the Watergate-era White House attorney who turned on Richard Nixon.

Trump, in a series of angry tweets, blasted a New York Times story reporting that McGahn has been co-operating extensively with the special counsel team investigating Russian election meddling and potential collusion with Trump’s Republican campaign...

Curiously, the AP reporter of that time, Jill Colvin, left out the 'O' word that was front and center in the Mueller Report, Volume 2, and in Mr. Mueller's testimony before Congress last week:

Robert Mueller confirmed former White House counsel Don McGahn was pressured to lie by the White House about whether he was ever asked by Donald Trump to fire the former special counsel while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

"The president told the White House staff secretary, Rob Porter, to try to pressure [Don] McGahn to make a false denial. Is that correct?" Democrat Karen Bass asked Mr Mueller.

"That's correct,” he replied...

Imagine that!


Thursday, August 01, 2019

The Curse Of Clarklandia's Ever Shrinking Coattails...


The seat that Christy Clark once muscled in on and then quit when it suited her is no longer in BC Liberal hands:

Bob Mackin has the story at his Breaker News:

Kelowna West’s Ben Stewart is out of the BC Liberal caucus. understands there was an emergency conference call for caucus members in which they were informed that the MLA in the BC Liberal stronghold has departed because of a matter related to an Elections BC investigation that involves a donation from his constituency assistant...


One can only wonder if the good Mr. Stewart will go full metal blue now that the coat of faux red paint has been removed.


It turns out that you can, apparently, bury the lede in a tweet:


The Great Lotuslandian Land Swindle.


Is it the M.P.L.A.? 

Or Is it the U.D.A.? 

Or Is it the I.R.A.? 

I thought it was the U.K. 


Is it the 'U.D.I.'?

Yes that's right.

According the boss of the local division of the developers' non-profit think tankish thingy that self proclaims itself it to be a "partner in community building & premier voice of BC's real estate development industry" (with or without granite counter-tops, presumably), things that cost less are really not actually more affordable.

But for who, though, really?

Post Title?....Play on....This.