Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The (Most) Extreme 'Moderate' (Of Them All).


Awhile back we wondered if the good Mr. Manchin's posturing on shrinking the size of Joe Biden's infrastructure bill might have had more to do with squeezing climate change initiatives out of the thing than the dollar cost.

Well, well, well, whaddya know...


Monday, October 11, 2021

Your Morning Audio...Ripple (Grateful Dead Cover)


In the Paul Feig-penned final episode of 'Freaks and Geeks' the most famous Lindsay Weir encounter with the Grateful Dead comes when she lets go to 'Box of Rain' in her bedroom.

But, in my opinion, it's 'Ripple', playing over the closing montage (above), that hits just the right mix of joy and melancholy as freedom and self knowledge collide in a Volkswagen van full of friends heading on down the road.

Or some such thing...

Weirdly, Feig and producer Judd Apatow knew the show was doomed midway through the first season so they got the last show in the can right then and there so that they could force the network to air it, regardless when the cancellation came. In the end the axe fell after fifteen episodes. Three more surfaced after the fact via cable and streaming deals...Apatow later said that everything he's done since has been an attempt to get revenge on the people that cancelled Freaks and Geeks.
Sub-header is uttered by Count Floyd pretending to be Lindsay's Dad as she boards the bus that is supposed to take her to pre-college nerd camp.


Thursday, October 07, 2021

The Trillionator.


In the beginning Joe Biden's stimulatory 'Build Back Better' plan, which included a significant climate action component, was costed at seven trillion dollars.

MSNBC's MacKenzie Sigalos had that story this time last year:

...Striking a stimulus deal is only one part of Biden’s pandemic recovery plan. What he actually wants is something much bigger: for the country to spend over $7 trillion on initiatives such as infrastructure, which includes the creation of 10 million clean-energy jobs, and on housing, education, economic fairness and health care. He’s bundled all his ideas under the slogan Build Back Better...

Of course 7 trillion dollars is a big number, even if the plan is/was to spend it over ten years.

Except, perhaps, when you compare it the total value of the subsidies that prop up the fossil fuel industry every single year, as the Guardian's Damian Carrington explains:

...The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed...


Of course, Mr. Biden's proposed plan has now been cut in half to $3.5 trillion, still with a significant climate action component, and now he is trying get his own party's senators pass the bill.

Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia has drawn a line in the sand at 1.5 trillion, ostensibly because of  debt reduction:

Joe Manchin proposed a deal to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this summer to limit the total cost of Democrats' sweeping spending bill to $1.5 trillion, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by POLITICO...


...In the document, Manchin proposes raising the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, the top tax rate on income to 39.6 percent, raising the capital gains tax rate to 28 percent and says that any revenue from the bill “exceeding” $1.5 trillion will go to deficit reduction...


With crocodile tear-laced apologies to a fine fellow named Grover, is it possible that Mr. Manchin is trying to strangle Mr. Biden's bill in a coal- and oil-filled bathtub for a different reason?

The Irish Times' correspondent in Washington Coral Davenport hinte at that possibility recently:

Senator Joe Manchin, the powerful West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate energy panel and earned $500,000 (€430,000) last year from coal production, is preparing to remake US president Joe Biden’s climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry – despite urgent calls from scientists that countries need to quickly pivot away from coal, gas and oil to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Manchin has already emerged as the crucial up-or-down vote in a sharply divided Senate when it comes to Biden’s push to pass a $3.5 trillion budget Bill that could reshape the nation’s social welfare network. But Biden also wants the Bill to include an aggressive climate policy that would compel utilities to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to wind, solar or nuclear energy, sources that do not emit the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet...

With friends like that subsidies....errrr...trillions matter.


Update, Friday: And, just in the nick of time...Here comes the (formerly?) green Ms. Sinema with her more direct, upfront rip-off of the Climate Mitigation Slash Machine Blues....


Saturday, October 02, 2021

It's A Long Way From The Blues.


By the time that big Fleetwood Mac album came out in 1977 I wasn't really paying attention, mostly because my friends and I were already starting to sniff around at that new musical thing coming while we stapled egg cartons to the garage room walls.

You know that then 'new' musical thing that now means that, more than forty years later, all the algorithms in all the gin joints in all the streaming service worlds inevitably lead me back to 'Gates of the West' by the Clash.

Anyway, after Lindsey Buckingham was on Marc Maron's podcast recently, I went back and had another listen to Rumours, etc.

And then I did some digging around in an effort to learn what, exactly, it was that Mick Fleetwood heard while listening to demos at Sound City Studios in 1974 that led him to ask Buckingham to become Fleetwood Mac's new guitar player.

Surprisingly, the algorithms do not take you to that thing that Fleetwood heard on 1973's Buckingham/Nicks album because that album is out of print.

But you can find it - and it's all there - the whole thing, pre-formed.

So much so, that it's pretty darned clear that Fleetwood and John McVie essentially became little more than Buckingham's and Nicks' (and occasionally Christine Perfect's) rhythm section when it came time to make the band's next two albums - you know, the ones that made them all rich and soon drove them white line crazy.

If you don't believe me about that Buckingham/Nicks thing (and/or don't already know), just have a listen...

Post title is apparently what McVie said to Fleetwood when he was struck dumb by the realization that the two of them were about to make sixteeen tons of money backing that California sound that Buckingham and Nicks had concocted.
Subheader?...You can hear the Cat/Yusaf influence that Buckingham talks about on Maron in that B/N album...Incidentally, it was an album that went nowhere except, weirdly, in Northern Alabama...Go figure. 
Regarding 'Gates of the West'...Back in the day I was very proud of having a cut of Mick Jones's somewhat obscure homage to Mott the Hoople's 'All the way from Memphis' that was the pre-London Calling antithesis of Strummer's earlier 'I'm So Bored With The USA' on a compilation tape that played endlessly in the pirated Kenny van throughout the early '80's.
Update: If you want to go backward in Fleetwood Mac time into the blues, check out this great post by our good friend Danneau.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

Back To The Future In Vancouver Civic Politics?



Here's something interesting from the Vancouver Sun's Cheryl Chan:

Vancouver councillor Colleen Hardwick plans to seek the mayoral nomination of a new municipal party.

Hardwick, who quit the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) in April to sit as an independent, announced Wednesday she has joined TEAM for a Livable Vancouver and now represents the newly-formed party on council...


...The new TEAM, named after the original The Electors’ Action Movement (TEAM) founded by Hardwick’s father and three-term Vancouver councillor Walter Hardwick and former mayor Art Phillips in 1968, will put Vancouver residents and its neighbourhoods first, promised Hardwick...

Will the resurrection of the party that Ms. Hardwick's Dad helped to build the first time around turn out to be viable?

Will it carve votes away from the NPA's Mr. Coupar and ensure a K. Stewart victory next fall? 

Will it give Marky Mark's mayoral candidacy a wee bit of wiggle room to move up through the cracks that have developed in the center-right 'round here?

Honestly, I'm not enough of an insider to know the answers to any of the above for sure - but feel free to weigh in if you have an opinion and/or an insight.

I would be re-miss if I didn't mention that Sean Holman is coming back to British Columbia...Something tells me that Mr. Holman and Norm Farrell will be crossing paths with some regularity on the climate policy beat (which I reckon will be a very good thing indeed).


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Nail Biter...The Stealthiest Con Of Them All?



Update Sat Sept 25th: Dipper Barron wins in Nanaimo, Lib Miao wins in Richmond, Lib Noormohamed wins in VanGranShaughnessyBigHouseFlippedOrNotLand

Nanaimo Ladysmith is one of those British Columbia ridings where the decision could by decided by the mail-in ballots. 

Apparently, there are approximately 8,000 mail-in/special ballots that are currently being verified by Elections Canada. The plan is to start counting them tomorrow/Friday.

Paul Manly, the Greeniac, was the riding's MP in the previous parliament. Currently, he's on the outside looking in by 2,800 votes. Here is what he had to say about the situation late on election night:

The Dipper, and current leader by 1,000 votes, Lisa Marie Barron had this to say early the morning after the election:

As for the second place Con?

Well, who knows what Tamar Kronis thinks and/or has to say about anything, including the fact that the PPC vote in the riding is considerably greater than the difference between herself and Ms. Barron.


Imagine that!

StealthCon?...It's a CPC strategy that started in, surprise!, the Harper era.
And we thank longtime reader e.a.f. for bringing the multitude of different demos in Nanaimo-Ladysmith to our attention awhile back.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

B.C. Ridings In Play?....Post Election Day Update (before Mail-In's)



Post-Election Day Update for each riding below...
Update Sat Sept 18th at bottom of post


Mostly, I don't give much of a hoot-in-heckfire about national or even regional polls because, in my opinion at least, it's riding-specific polls that matter most. Unfortunately, we, the peons, have seen little of those.

Regardless, with eyes half-closed due to the lack of hard contemporaneous data, here is a list of what I think are ridings in British Columbia that are in play based mostly on past performance:
Nanaimo: This one looks to be a triple toss-up between Con, Dipper and current Greeniac MP Paul Manley. The Lib does not appear to be a factor...Post EDay Update: Dipper Barron up by ~1,000 votes over Con; former Green MP Manly down by 2,700...Need to wait for Mail-In count to be sure - 8,800 ballots ordered - who knows how many got to folks on time to actually get them in?...PPC difference maker? (1,800 votes, plus).
Kootenay-Columbia: Current Con MP Rob Morrison is the clear favourite but the Dipper, and former MP, Wayne Stetski is a long shot with a shot...Post EDay Update: Con Morrison wins by 4,700 votes over Stetski...PPC takes an additional 4,300 votes in heartlandia (7.1%).

South OK-West Kootenay: Most predictor thingies have this strong for current Dipper MP Cannings. However, there was less than a one point split between Cannings and the Con last time, so this is one where the overall O'Toole National/Regional strength could be a factor in the Con's favour out in the kinda/sorta heartland. It could come down to Dipper GoTV...Post EDay Update:Dipper Cannings wins by 2,500...That rightsided heartlandia strength went PPC with 4,600, plus (7.7%) votes that just might have been the difference.
West Van-SunSeaSky: Two way race between Lib MP Weiler and the Con. Neither the Dipper nor the  Greeniac can win, but their numbers are significant such that together they could get enough votes to split and allow the Con to win....Post EDay Update: Lib MP Weiler wins by 2,200 votes over Con...Dipper Avi Lewis does well with 26%.

Burnaby North-Seymour: Supposed to be a two-way race between current Lib MP Terry Beech and Dipper Jim Hanson. Was a three point victory for Beech over Swende R. last time, but now the urban regional Singh bump could help. Interestingly, given the pipeline terminus in the riding, the Greeniac doesn't look to be a factor...Post EDay Update: Lib MP Beech wins going away by 4,700 over Dipper Hanson.

Coquitlam-PoCo: This was essentially a Lib/Con dead heat last time with current Lib MP McKinnon squeaking in with less than one percent victory. Looks like the Dipper is slightly competitive or, at the very least,  a vote gatherer, here though...Post EDay Update: Liberal MP McKinnon wins going away by 4,000 votes over Con.


PoMo-Coquitlam: Dipper has a real shot in what looks to be a three way race between Lib and current Con MP Nelly Shin...Post EDay Update: Looks like Dipper Zarrillo will win up by 2,000 votes over Con Shin...PPC might have contributed to spread (1,700 votes) but not the decider, at least pre-Mail-In count. 

Pitt Meadows - Larry Walker's Ridge: You won't find this one on many in play-type lists but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Dipper has a shot because it's an historical Lib/Dip split riding that let's the Con, currently MP Marc Dalton, win up the middle....But I reckon this could be one where the regional leader/party polls favouring the Dippers could maybe, just maybe, turn things a wee bit orange...Post EDay Update: Con MP Dalton will win...But Dipper Klapwyk was strong second only down by 2,400 votes with 31.8%...Lib distant third this time out. 

Cloverdale - Langley (is a?) City: Could be the opposite of Pitt Meadows-MR in that here a rising Dipper could take enough votes from the previously close Libs to help the current Con MP Tamara Jansen win again in what should be a relatively close Con/Lib race...Post EDay Update: Still close, Lib up by 1,100 votes on Con MP Jansen...Here the PPC might be difference with 2,500 votes...The Dipper faded into low show position down by 10,000 - had this one way wrong.
Delta: It's a toss-up between the Con and current Lib MP Carla Qualtrough. Can't help wonder if the PeepsPartingOfCrazySea candidate just might shave off just enough to keep this one in the red...Post EDay Update: Lib MP Qualtrough wins going away over Con by 4,000...PPC not a factor.


Van-Gran...Post EDay Update: Still too close to call..Lib Noormohamed up by 230 votes over Dipper Appadurai...Mail-ins could definitely matter here...Con a fading third 3,200 votes behind.


South Surrey-WR...Post EDay Update: Con MP Findlay will hold on to win, up 2,300 over Lib and former CampbellInc/Clarklandian Hogg.


Richmond Centre...Post EDay Update: Lib Miao up by 700 votes on longtime Con MP Alice Wong...Definitely need to wait on Mail-Ins here.


Voting time is upon us...If you haven't already completed your mail-in ballot advance polling is now open!...General admission Monday!...Now just waiting for the Mail-In's to be counted.

And we heard from Beer...As you might expect, he is off in the the Albertalands trying to elect Dippers!


Tuesday, September 07, 2021

The Songification Of Everything...


We spent the long weekend at our girls' Grandpops house.

To be super-safe we put a hotel suite in his driveway - turns out that you can rent folks' camping trailers as roaming Air B'nB' - type deals.

Anyway, it was a fun weekend, including a Sunday afternoon songification session with Bigger E.

Just in case it's not obvious from the above, you can find E's instantaneous and, more often than not, grammatically correct stuff...Here.


Wednesday, September 01, 2021

The Little Mountain Deal, Re-Examined: It's More Than Just The Interest Free Loan.


By now you have likely heard about the massive, two hundred million dollar, plus, interest free loan that the 'purchaser' (i.e. Holborn Properties) received from the 'vendor' (i.e. you and me) when they bought the Little Mountain tract in central Lotusland and started demolishing existing public housing soon thereafter.

This is because, finally, thanks to the digging of David Chudnovsky and local advocates as well as Jeremy Allingham and the CBC, we finally got to see the 'contract', which was signed in 2008 and has been amended since.

Yesterday, in addition to his piece that was posted on the CBC British Columbia website (where the entire 'contract' can be downloaded), Mr. Allingham also posted the following on his Twittmachine feed:

Mr. Allingham's tweet led me to go digging through the original 'contract' (careful: pdf file) where I found the following in Section 2.3 of the April 25, 2008, 'Amended and Restated Purchase and Sale Agreement':


Does this mean that the 'purchaser' (i.e. Holborn Properties) doesn't even have to start paying back the principal on the $210,957,340 interest free loan that, again, was laid out by the 'vendor (i.e. you and me) on that 'Remaining Balance' mentioned above as long as they leave the bulldozed and weeded over land fallow (except for a single tranche of already built, but excluded, non-market public housing) while the value of the land just keeps on appreciating?

Well, according to Holborn Properties spokesperson Megan Schrader, it would appear that just might be the case.

Dan Fumano had that part of the story in his piece published in yesterday's Vancouver Sun:
...(Ms.) Schrader, the Holborn spokeswoman, said that remaining balance of $210.9 million will be paid through the proceeds of market housing sales, and the arrangement was structured this way “to prioritize the construction of the social housing units.”

“In payment structures for large land sales, it is very common for the Purchaser to provide a deposit and pay the remaining balance as the land is developed,” Schrader said. “The proceeds of the Little Mountain sale provided immediate funding to the province, allowing them to reinvest that money into affordable housing projects.”...

Imagine that!

By the way, that Section 2.3 is some Catch...errrrr....Section (it starts on pg 30 of the 'contract' pdf file)...Section 2.3 pretty much lays out the entire deal in financial terms...That 'deposit' that the Holborn spokesperson mentioned above?...In total it appears to be all of thirty-five million dollars....Given that, I don't know about you all but I, for one, sure would be interested to learn what the 'purchaser's' non-market housing parcel is worth today. 
And here's a question for, say, the guy who was in charge of the deal at the time....How, exactly, did Holborn's $35 million lead to more reinvestment in affordable housing projects than, say, $210.9 million, would have at the time?....And, to be clear, when answering that question, phoney provincial budget number re-jigging does not count as a legitimate explanation.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Real World Vaccination Efficacy Update For B.C.


British Columbia has started to release the COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers broken down into folks who are not and who are vaccinated. Essentially the efficacy is similar to what we noted for Ontario a couple of weeks ago.

First, here are the numbers, per 100K per week (i.e. essentially all for the Delta variant given the recency) as analyzed by the CBC's Justin McElroy:

Thus, the protection is solid for full vaccination with some drop-off for protection for seniors - all of which is good. 

However, again, don't forget that the vaccinated can still be infectious even, potentially, if they are asymptomatic which means that the reason for masking and social distancing is to protect your friends, family members, colleagues and, well, pretty much everyone.

Meanwhile in Florida, concerns have been raised by the Miami Herald that the method of reporting the numbers for the very worst outcome have been changed recently.


The Sweetheart Deal That Destroyed The Little Mountain Rodeo.


The BC Liberal government's Little Mountain sell-off was always about their stupid, phoney made for TeeVee budget surpluses.

Here are Lori Culbert and Dan Fumano from a couple of years ago in the VSun:

...The (B.C.) Liberals have maintained that selling Little Mountain gave them the money to build social housing in other locations, but Postmedia discovered that — because (developer) Holborn hasn’t yet paid for the bulk of the land — the Liberals instead borrowed the money from the Treasury Board and promised to pay it back once Holborn settled its debt...

Now, thanks to a whole lot of work by David Chudnovsky and folk in the neighbourhood as well as Jeremy Allingham and the CBC we actually know just how bad the deal really was:

After 13 years of questions and uncertainty surrounding the privatization of the Little Mountain lands, details of the deal are finally public.

CBC News has obtained the purchase and sale agreement between the provincial government and developer Holborn Properties after protracted efforts through freedom of information processes.

The contract shows that the sale price was $334 million, but the province says only $89 million has been paid by Holborn.

The B.C. Liberal government that was in power at the time of the 2008 deal gave Holborn $211 million in interest-free loans on an 18-year term, the agreement shows. Interest will not accrue on that loan until Dec. 31, 2026...


...Also in the deal was an additional $88 million in low-interest loans for non-market housing, repayable by 2050...


It looks to be pretty clear why the developer worked so hard to make sure the contract never saw the light of day.

As for the super fine members of the government of the day...What, them worry?

Image at the top of the post?...It's from a 2012 2nd quarter budget update from Cookie Dough Mike that made the skullduggery visible for all who wanted to look and dig...Unfortunately, few folks at the time, especially folks  in the local corpMedia, really did.


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Schooled In Rock.


Every once in a while, when the Geezers get together in the garage we try David Letterman's favourite Foo Fighters tune...


And then, when it comes time to play live in front of actual people, we shelve it for myriad reasons including the fact that the drummer has a bit of a problem hitting the big cymbal crashes and fills to his liking during the big build-ups/tempo changes.

Well, given that said drummer is sixty years this kid's senior, I reckon he (and we) no longer have any excuses...

Truth be told, all the geezers are fantastic musicians and, personally, I don't even get what's not quite right about the crashes and the fills...Then again, I'm there pretty much as the mascot and/or the student manager of the varsity team except for the occasional tune that calls for a harmonica break, maybe...


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Who The Hell Is Ken Dahlberg?


In June of 1972 H.R. Haldeman had a conversation with then president Richard M. Nixon and told him that a $25,000 cheque made out to a midwestern Republican party bagman named Kenneth H. Dahlberg had been given to one of the Watergate burglars, Bernard Barker,  by the finance chairman of the Committee to Re-elect the President (the infamous 'CREEP').

We know exactly what was said by both Haldeman and Nixon because it turned up on the so-called 'smoking gun' tape that also included the hatching of the Whitehouse-led conspiracy to halt the FBI's investigation of the Watergate case.

A little later, in July of 1972, Carl Bernstein found out about the cheque from a prosecutor in Miami, Florida but neither he nor Bob Woodward, like Nixon before them, had any idea who the good Mr. Dahlberg was or where they could reach him.

Which meant, of course, that in a pre-Googleplex world, that's when the real work began:
...Woodward asked a Post librarian to see if there was anything on Mr. Dahlberg in the paper’s files. The librarian found a picture of Mr. Dahlberg with (Senator Hubert) Humphrey. Humphrey was from Minnesota. On a hunch, Woodward called information in Minneapolis and got a number for a Kenneth H. Dahlberg. Mr. Dahlberg answered the phone, acknowledged the $25,000 check and, saying, “I know I shouldn’t tell you this,’’ according to the Woodward-Bernstein book, proceeded to reveal that he had given the check to (CREEP finance chair Maurice) Stans...

This is all dramatized to great, if slightly embellished, effect in the movie 'All The President's Men' the result of which is the conversation, in which Mr. Dahlberg is the only major player in the Watergate saga who tells the truth from the very start, shown in the video clip at the top of the post.


I remember when searching for something meant that you actually had to do some actual searching. Heckfire, as an undergraduate it once took me two days of rummaging through library stacks and squinting at microfiche films to find this as the counterpoint to that damnable motorcycle outlaw book by Hunter Thompson, when I should have been instead learning about how ribosomes translate mRNA into protein.

But I digress.

Because what I really wanted to tell you about is how real news people dealt with all of this when they had to be really fast in the days before the interwebz.

And, apparently, one of the best at this game locally was a guy named Warren Barker (no relation to the infamous Watergate burglar - ha!).

Mr. Barker, who ran the then locally-owned CKNW newsroom with iron fists clenched in velvet gloves from 1959 to 1991, died recently and Rod Mickleburgh has written a great tribute to him over at his blog.

Here's the part about Mr. Barker's infamous 'files':

...Barker might have stepped out of a radio version of The Front Page. Pounding the keys on an old typewriter (reporters learned to recognize angry memos by the keys cutting right through the paper), phone receiver cradled on his shoulder, a cheap Old Port cigarillo in his mouth, surrounded by files, he set the city’s news agenda every morning. His only concession to sartorial resplendence was a loosely-knotted tie he hung on the door handle. He would slip it on, whenever he had to meet the station’s “suits”.

Few realized CKNW managed all this with just a small fleet of reporters — two on days, one on nights, plus the incomparable George Garrett. And it was out in New Westminster, far from the pulse of Vancouver. But Barker had a system. It involved endless phone checks (“Anything new?”), cubbyhole newsrooms at city hall and the cop shop, tips from carefully cultivated sources, and the pi├Ęce de resistance, a filing system like no other.

In the words of Cameron Bell, who went on from his Barker tutelage to revolutionize local TV news at BC-TV: “In an era before computers, in a newsroom the size of a sedan, Barker would carefully construct ongoing files for ongoing stories. They’d be put away in files for instant recall. Barker could retrieve information faster than the most computerized databases today.”

Garrett, who spent nearly 20 years working under Barker, said his boss kept files on everything. Fire deaths, traffic deaths, court cases, labour stories, status of the Mission River Gauge that measured the annual Fraser River freshet…In fact, just about every story reported on ‘NW found its way into Barker’s extraordinary filing system, in chronological order. “And all before computers,” marvelled Garrett...

Imagine that!

In the movie the embellished bit is the part where Redford as Woodward searches through old phone books stored in the celluloid version of the Washington Post newsroom to find Dahlberg's phone number...Most interestingly, the film's props dept used a version of the Minneapolis phone book that came out a few months after the call was actually made...Which, apropos of absolutely nothing at all, is a fact nugget I would never have found if I had not been trolling the outer edges of the Googleplex earlier this morning...


Friday, August 27, 2021

Call Manipulation What It Is Regardless The Politics.


Last Sunday Cynthia Freeland posted an edited video of Erin O'Toole discussing his desire to introduce a modicum of private healthcare delivery in Canada.

What was removed in the editing was Mr. O'Toole clearly stating that he wished to do this in the context of maintained universal access to care.

Here is what Ms. Freeland tweeted atop the edited video:

Sean Holman, speaking on Canadaland this week, pointed out that the editing itself was not manipulative given that the jump cuts in the video are obvious. 

I agree with Sean on this point.

However, in my opinion, what was generated by the editing process was manipulative given that the video Ms. Freeland linked to in her tweet (and which Mr. Trudeau re-tweeted) strongly suggests that Mr. O'Toole wants to do something that many Canadians feel is bad (i.e. utilize private, for profit healthcare delivery) while simultaneously removing any indication that Mr. O'Toole wants to do this while maintaining universal coverage which, of course, most of those very same Canadians think is a good thing.

Now, you can (and the Liberals should) argue that Mr. O'Toole's strategy of mixed private/public healthcare delivery is a bad one, especially with respect to the likelihood that it will ultimately generate a more costly two-tiered system  etcetera.

However, what the Liberal were doing here was not that.

Instead, they were being manipulative in an attempt to generate a 'gotcha'  propaganda scare amongst a certain slice of the electorate that might be starting to kick the tires on Mr. O'Toole's campaign bus.

Thus, I'm happy that Twitter slapped a 'manipulated video' warning on Ms. Freeland's original tweet, even if Conservative insiders may have been the impetus behind said slapping (scroll down to 'Freeland vs Twitter').

Why am I happy?

Because I think that the only way to make our politics better is to call out this gotcha crap for what it is, especially when it is manipulative, regardless the party and/or politician that initiates it.


And no,
despite the claims of some apologists, Ms. Freeland's posting of the full, unedited video down thread does not absolve her and hers...Why?...Well, ask yourself this...Why did Ms. Freeland not just link to the unedited video in the origina, top of the threadl tweet wherein she notes that our universal healthcare system is one of our greatest strengths?
I was actually surprised that Mr. Holman did not see this as manipulative while he spoke with guest host Fatima Syed on Canadaland's podcast. Sean did say he found it to be biased and further noted that one has to be careful, given worse stuff, often coming from the right side of the political ledger, about trumpeting false equivalencies that lead to problematic claims of 'both siderism'. Ms. Syed on the other hand, while agreeing with Holman's point about bias, laughingly said that we all just want politics to be better after dismissing Twitter's manipulated media moniker. Well, if that's the case...
Mr. Holman also brought up the matter of how problematic Canada's access to information laws and procedures are, including how much hidden stuff should be publicly available without an FOI request...Here, I agree with him 100 percent...We also thank him for drawing our attention to Stanley Tromp's database of media stories that have been generated, at least in part, due to material obtained by FOI over at the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association's website.
Finally, hearing Sean talk politics on my non-radio device made me think it was a Sunday morning from days of yore even though it was a Thursday evening bike ride when I actually listened.
Update, late Friday afternoon: Sean Holman expands on  his position in a good Twittmachine thread, here....Clearly, Sean is more hard-headed and realistic about how politics is routinely practiced in this country...Me, I see those practices as a big part of the problem with our body politic and want to see them changed, regardless how unrealistic that might be.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

A Fundamental Change In The Way Election Campaign Races Are Run?


Not sure about you all, but I've always thought of Canadian election campaigns as one continuous horse race where the steeds start out slow, pick up the pace in the backstretch, and then start jockeying and sprinting furiously as they round the final turn and head for home.

And nothing represents that mad dash for the finish line better than when the party leaders go bonkers in a campaign's final days and start crisscrossing the country in an effort to hit as many strategic regions and ridings as possible.

But Greg Fingas, writing over at his most excellent blog 'Accidental Deliberations', thinks that the nature of such races might be changing:
...The provincial elections held in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic have generally seen both a continuation of the trend toward increased advance voting, and a substantial increase in the use of mail-in ballots. But by the time the votes have been counted, the overall turnout hasn't been all that strong.

And that combination of increased early voting and decreased election-day turnout raises important considerations for (a) campaign.

First, it means that persuasion in the opening days of the campaign will actually serve to lock in votes early - or conversely, that a failure to reach people by that stage could put them out of reach for the duration of the campaign. And so even to the extent a party might otherwise be tempted to hold off on messages or platforms to reduce the time in which they can be picked apart, the balance tilts strongly in favour of ensuring that early voters have a chance to see what's on offer.

By the same token, the events which would normally be seen as shaping the outcome of an election - from debates to gaffes to movements behind a particular leader - are all likely to have comparatively less effect than in previous elections due to the votes which have already been banked by the time they would take place.

At the same time, while those most motivated to vote need to be reached with persuasive messages early in the campaign, the voters left to be accessed on election day are then likely to be those who have put relatively little thought into how to vote as a matter of both partisan support and process...


Instead of one long, linear horse race, it appears that we may be moving towards something more akin to the Tour de France, with multiple stages made up of sprints, grueling climbs and daredevil descents, each with their own 'prize' of votes of a different kind.

Which could be fun, especially if it screws up the ability of pollsters and pols figure out what buttons to push and pull for the duration.

At least for the moment, because you know for darned sure that if this change from horses to bicycles really is happening those very same pol(lster)s are already hard at work doing their best to re-slice and dice the demographics so that they can sock away votes at each stage of the new fangled race.


GFingas regularly posts really thoughtful media/blog round-ups from a progressive politics point-of-view that are always worth having a look at....Here's a recent example.
Image and subheader?....This!


Friday, August 20, 2021

Life On The Alberni Inlet.

Last weekend we discussed the short-lived 'end' and subsequent resurrection of the ferry/cargo service central Vancouver Island's Alberni Inlet.

My own personal reminiscences leaned toward that of a tourist with a back pack.

Then our old friend Scotty, who once travelled the ferry regularly, weighed in:
"I loved riding the Lady Rose back in the day. The frail, weathered skipper in elegant white turtleneck and navy reefer patiently instructing his first mate for the cameras (The burly, silent “August” probably needed no instruction about hoisting pallets out of the ship’s hold). Our toddler daughter transfixed by dolphins surfing alongside the prow. The milk run deliveries at the Kildonnan dock as so many tourists flocked to snap photos of crusty old loggers picking up cargo that the Lady Rose listed considerably—and August silently adjusted the block pulleys accordingly. I worked in the woods along the south side of Alberni Inlet. We’d take the Lady Rose down to Bamfield or Ucluelet for vaycay. It was a wonderful time"

You know what?

Sometimes I think that maybe Scotty is the holder of the people's history of everything when it comes to lives lived in the westcoast woods.

Image at the top of the post...The Kildonan dock, circa 1929, which probably even pre-dates Scotty's first arrival there.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

An Interesting Bit Of Cell Biology With Variant Spike Proteins.


Sequencing the nucleotides of genes allows you to determine the coded for sequence of amino acids  in the protein concerned.

As a result, changes in the nucleotides in the gene sequence (i.e. mutations) lead to changes in the amino acids in the protein. Such changes are how the SARS-Cov-2 viral variants are generated.

Once the amino acid sequences are known that structural biologists jump in and try to figure out how changes in variants alter protein topology and, potentially, the way the protein works.

But, even with all this important and elegant 'molecular' work, the next step is to test the function of those mutated/changed/variant proteins in cells.

And a group from Boston has deposited a pre-print wherein they present some interesting data with the various SARS2-Cov-2  S-protein variants.

One of the interesting things these folks did was make funky 'pseudo' viruses that are decorated with the various S protein variants from SARS2-Cov-2. They then looked to see how fast those variants decorated pseudoviruses fuse with cells expressing the ACE2 receptor on their surface.

Here are the data which show that the Delta variant S protein (red line) causes more rapid membrane fusion in their experiments:

This group also did this with cell-cell fusion which led them to make the following conclusion:
...Our findings from both cell-based and pseudovirus-based assays suggest that the Delta variant can infect a target cell substantially more rapidly than the other variants we tested, either by more effective attachment or faster fusion kinetics...

It will be very interesting to see if this finding holds up and if it explains, at least in part, why the Delta variant virus is more infectious in people.

Again, while I'm a biologist our group does not do research on viruses....We do, however, develop all kinds of assays to test gene/protein variant function in various cell models.


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Danny Says...


Danny says we gotta go...

And then, in the end, so did he...

The Danny here is former Ramones co-manager Danny Fields, who apparently took the picture at the top of the page...I have no idea who the geezer is in the bottom picture...It could just as easily be Roger Stone as it could be Mr. Fields, who's still alive in kicking. Then again, maybe it's the ghost of Tommy Erdelyi.
As for the tune of the post title...This!...and This!...and, maybe weirdest and most wonderful of all, This!


Ontario Is Releasing The Data Daily...

Ontario is releasing data on COVID cases, hospitalizations and ICU stays among the unvaccinated and vaccinated, daily.

And the Star's Ed Tubb has been tracking it. Here his summation from yesterday:

Quite the difference, no?

And it supports up our earlier 'Five things you can explain to the truly vaccine hesitant' post from last week.


Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Apparent End Of The Port Alberni To Bamfield Ferry Service.


Update: Looks like the service has been saved!

Our Dad first took us on the Westcoast Trail in 1973, I think.

Back then there was little boardwalk and very few cable cars crossing over rushing water which meant that there was a whole lot of, as my younger brother, later the fireman, said at the time 'Mud a blowdowns!' as well as raft building for the fording of swollen creeks*. 

Given all this we decided that the only way that sane people travelled the trail was to start from Port Renfrew and trudge from south to north to get the worst of the thing behind you during the first few days before it all got a little easier once you crossed Nitinat Narrows, hung out at Tsusiat Falls for a bit, and then started heading towards the end at Bamfield.

I honestly can't remember if it was the first or the second time after finishing the trail that we took the trip on the M.V. Lady Rose, the old Glasgow-built combination people/cargo ferry, from Bamfield down Barkley Sound to Port Alberni on the way to civilization re-entry. 

The Lady Rose herself was taken out of operation about ten years ago and she sat tied up on the Tofino docks for quite awhile before she was towed over to Sechelt where a bunch of folks, spearheaded by a guy named Dick Clayton, are hoping to restore her.

But the ferry service itself is still going, using a different ship, the M.V. Francis Barkley, under the auspices of the Lady Rose Marine Services.

Still going until the end of the month, that is.

Susie Quinn wrote that story for the Alberni Valley News recently. Here's her lede:
An icon of Vancouver Island’s West Coast is poised to take its final voyage.

Lady Rose Marine Services will close its doors as of Aug. 31, after 75 years of freight and passenger service down the Alberni Inlet.

The company is yet another victim of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic strain of extended closures and restrictions, owner Mike Surrell said Monday, Aug. 9. The company posted a brief statement on its Facebook page after rumours started circulating about the closure.

“Seventeen months of basically no income going into the winter, which is traditionally slow…maintaining and running these vessels is very, very expensive,” he said.

“With COVID-19 we managed to hang on for 17 months. We’re not able to maintain this pace. Unfortunately, the Frances Barkley will stop sailing at the end of the month.”

Surrell bought the company and all its operations in 2008. He said while COVID-19 was the final strike, it has also been difficult finding employees with the proper certification to help keep the ship running. Working as a mariner is a specialty, and government regulations demand a certain amount of current training and certification...

Here's hoping something can be worked out for all those affected that decreases the impact of this latest development - There is a road up the inlet** but it is not great and there are remote stops that will likely lose their regular, scheduled goods delivery service pretty much entirely.


Don't get me wrong, based on the evidence, I'm still all in favour of getting as much of the population vaccinated as possible, invoking vaccine mandates in situations where folks will be interacting, indoors in close quarters, and to practice social distancing + masking + rapid testing when your interacting with folks outside your pod. However, unless things go completely off the rails due to new data emerging regarding the Delta variant or the wide, rapid spread of a new even more problematic variant (which doesn't look like it will be Lambda), I would be concerned if any future hard lockdowns were not geographically targeted and for as short a duration as possible. After all, we are not, unfortunately, not New Zealand.

Lastly, it really is important to understand and have empathy for a whole lot of folks, including small business folks, who have been truly negatively impacted by the steps we've taken, especially pre-vaccine, to deal with the pandemic so far. This is something that has to be kept in mind as the PHO and we all struggle to choose the best and most prudent way(s) forward.

*The bare bottomed, pack-over-the-head crossing of the Cheewhat River, before they built the bridge, by my youngest brother, later the musician, would come on the next trip. 
**For one of our trips home from Bamfield our Mom actually drove that road, I think in the VW (notso) microbus, to pick us up. We probably still owe her for that one.
And here's something crazily modern, and I'm not sure actually good...Big chunks of the trail can now be traversed virtually via Google Street View...
Tip O' The Toque to reader E.G. for the heads-up on the update.


Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Tiny House And The Company Town.


By now you have likely heard that the billionare who has both taken and railed against the kind of government subsidies that have helped enrich he and his has given up a big whack of his worldly possessions and moved into a tiny house in Boca Chica on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Which is all fine and good as far as it goes.

But one thing you may not have heard is that Mr. Musk's rocket ship company, whose end product is most decidedly not carbon neutral, owns pretty much the entire town.

Christopher Hooks had that story recently in Texas Monthly:

Boca Chica village sits in the shadow of the SpaceX compound. Just a few years ago the village was little more than two streets of a few dozen one-story houses and a shrine to the Virgin Mary...


...After 2018 the company built infrastructure on all three sides of the village: a solar farm to the south, a company-run RV park with chic Airstream trailers to the west, and storage facilities to the east, behind the shrine to the Virgin. Agents for SpaceX urged the villagers to sell quickly while the county officials publicly warned that eminent domain could be used if they refused. Some residents say the offers were not generous, though they were coming, indirectly, from one of the richest men on the planet. Some accepted the buyouts because living under the shadow of the company had become so onerous. “It was as if I didn’t own my own home,” said Cheryl Stevens, who sold her house in 2019...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Today, what’s left of the town exists in a strange kind of superposition between the old and the new, Boca Chica village and Starbase. Some houses—eleven, by Garcia’s count—are still owned by the old residents, gently worn and painted in earth tones. The rest have been repainted black and white and gray. All the new homes sport Tesla chargers in front...


Because Jimmy Durante's final friends were right!

Photo at top of the post...Space-X's kerosene burning booster rocket pile that powers the 'Falcon Heavy' from the AP via the LA Times.


Friday, August 13, 2021

Music To A Science Geek's Inbox.


Our latest paper has been a real battle with the reviewers.

When we first submitted it earlier in the new year the reviewers were generally supportive but they had a lot of questions and concerns. They also asked for a significant number of new experiments before they would decide if our conclusions are truly supported by the data presented. 

That last one is the crucial bit - and that is really the job of concscientious peer-reviewers who are also experts in the field to ensure that the decision is made with rigour.

Of course, any and all  high-faluting 'this is just how science should work' talk was no consolation for the grad student and the post-doc that had already done a lot of work and who would now have to do even more slogging.

Which they did over a period of months. And the revised paper we sent back the journal, with reams of new data and a 12 page, single-spaced rebuttal to the original reviews (which was my job), was much, much improved.

Anyway, that revision went in a couple of weeks ago.

And then, late yesterday, an Email arrived from the editor. The following was buried under the lede:

Reviewer #1 (Comments to the Author):
The authors thoroughly answered all my concerns.

Reviewer #2 (Comments to the Author):
All of the revision changes are acceptable.

Reviewer #3 (Comments to the Author):
The authors addressed and resolved all my concerns raised in the first review.

The upshot is that the paper is now, finally, 'in-press'  and it will be published once we complete the final administrative and editorial (i.e. not scientific) revisions, which I'll work on next week.

In the meantime, this is usually the point in the process where that grad student and that post-doc that did so much of the work on the revisions would get to shoot champagne corks down the long hallway outside my office.*

Here's hoping we can all get together to do that, for real, in a few weeks.

*During the post-acceptance, paper-in-press celebrations my job is to wait about halfway down the hallway, hidden in the alcove entrance to the lab, while the kids who really did the work shake the bubbly and pop the corks.. An angle slightly above horizontal seems to be best as the goal is to send the corks flying, jumping and rolling as far down the hallway as possible. That's when I pop out with a sharpie in hand (green is best/lasts longest) to mark the distance travelled with the person's name, the paper, and the year down low where the wall meets the floor...The farthest mark ever, about 60 feet I reckon, was generated by a kid in 2010 who no longer is one (a kid I mean)...In fact, he has a lab of his own now in the Canuckistanian center of the universe and I'm pretty sure he has already started stealing grants that might otherwise have been meant for us (which is just as it should be, of course).