Saturday, July 31, 2021

Your Evening Audio...California Stars.

This one's from that Wilco/BillyBragg collaboration that brought a bunch of old Woody Guthrie lyrics to back to (a new and different) life.

According to the producer of the Mermaid Avenue sessions, Grant Cunliffe, it was Jay Bennett, pictured above with Jeff Tweedy, who was the real star of the show...

You can hear the good Mr. Cunliffe, who has worked with all kinds of interesting folks since the late '70's, and who still works with Bragg, tell the story of Mermaid Avenue to the inimitable Otis Gibbs...Here.

The Lagging Indicator That Matters Most.

The graph above is from a piece in today's New York Times by Lauren Leatherby  comparing COVID-19 outcomes across U.S. counties with either high (left) or low (right) vaccination rates.

The grey under the curves represent deaths.

Of course, some folks might be wondering how this can be given all the hullabaloo over U.S. CDC concerns that vaccinated people can still transmit virus to others after a breakthrough infection occurs?

Well, it is because the vaccinated that do develop a relatively rare breakthrough infection themselves rarely go on to develop symptoms. Additionally, only a small percentage of the vaccinated who develop symptoms progress to a stage where they get severely ill and die.

Eric Topol, who really knows what he's talking about and really stays on top of this stuff, recently gave kudos to a fellow named Darren Lu for his truly impressive graphic that demonstrates the protective multiplier effect of vaccination that contributes to real world differences in death rates like those shown at the top of the post:

So, what's the issue with the vaccinated who do suffer breakthrough infections who do not get sick but can transmit the Delta variant of the virus to others?....Well, the big issue there is that those folks will not know that they are infectious (i.e. they are asymptomatic) which will likely drive spread to both the vaccinatated and, worse, the unvaccinated given the high R0 value of this particular version of the bug. Thus, the CDC's change in mask recommendations this week....How to really deal with this?...Dr. Topol suggests widespread rapid antigen testing so those vaccinated who do get infected but not sick will know to self-isolate...I reckon this is an apporoach that institutions with large numbers of young people, including those with large numbers of young adult people, returning in, say, September might want to consider.


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Get Ready For A Media Onslaught On The Transmissibility Of The Delta Variant.


Earlier today the New York Times foreshadowed a coming announcement from the U.S. CDC that they have data that the Delta variant can be spread by both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.

Then, early this evening the Washington Post spelled it out:
The (internal CDC) document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus...


...It cites a combination of recently obtained, still-unpublished data from outbreak investigations and outside studies showing that vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant...

So, if the CDC is correct, this means that anyone can be infectious, regardless vaccination status. Thus the rationale for the CDC's reinstitution of a mask mandate in areas where infection rates are high earlier in the week.

The hard part here, I reckon, is going to be keeping the message clear regarding the fact that there are no data to significantly alter the conclusion that vaccination protects against significant illness due to Delta variant infection.

To wit:
...The (document) highlights the daunting task the CDC faces. It must continue to emphasize the proven efficacy of the vaccines at preventing severe illness and death while acknowledging milder breakthrough infections may not be so rare after all, and that vaccinated individuals are transmitting the virus...

Lets hope that critical message doesn't get lost in the media volcano that is about to erupt, probably by tomorrow/Friday morning.


The Wood-Splitter, Revealed.

Good to know who we'll be dealing with.

If and when they take the stand.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Does This Mean We Will See The Wood-Splitter On The Witness Stand?


From a report by Louise Dickson in the Victoria Times-Colonist:
Craig James, the former clerk of the Legislative Assembly of B.C., has pleaded not guilty to three counts of breach of trust by a public officer and two counts of fraud in excess of $5,000.

At a hearing Thursday morning in B.C. Supreme Court, James elected to be tried by judge alone...

The trial is scheduled to start January 24th, 2022.

In case you've missed it, science writer Brian Owens, has been doing a great job providing pandemics round-ups, often science journal-based, in the Tyee....His latest piece is...Here.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

May All Her Words Be Forever Salads...


From the 'now we've heard everything' department, brought to us by the the very finest of the fine local maximum RPM post-flinger B. Kronbauer:
The campaign for political insider Mark Marissen's Vancouver mayoral bid got a little more interesting this weekend, as former B.C. premier Christy Clark (who is also Marissen's ex-wife) showed up to support him at his first in-person campaign event.

The private event was held in the West End on Saturday and included roughly 50 supporters from across the political spectrum. Former Vancouver Greens board member Fernando Garci-Crespo Santalo, and former COPE Council Committee member Paulina Schwartz were among those in attendance.

Clark says she's supporting Marissen's bid to become mayor because she believes that city hall is currently lacking someone who has the ability to "get along with other people."

“At this time in our city’s history, we need a mayor who’s really able to pull together people of different views,” she said...


All that may have you shaking your head.

But get this kicker from she who was once the Premier of Dunbar whose policies helped send Lotuslandian real estate to the moon:

...On policy, Clark says that while she and Marissen don't agree on everything, she's excited about his stated goal of "making room for the middle class" in the housing market...

Good grief.


Marquee Diplomacy.


The turn of phrase, above, comes from the marquee of the venerable State theatre in Portland Oregon:

"..Kevin Norsworthy, an administrative assistant tasked with managing the highly visible marquee on Congress Street, said the message, “Vaccines are a gateway drug to concerts,” came to him “on a whim” while he was changing out the letters on May 17..."

Which begs the question....Which is more powerful in this case, the picture or the (much less than a thousand) words?

For those round
here that went mix-and-match AZ and mRNA, there are data out now and the kicker is very, very good indeed.


Monday, July 26, 2021

Evil Is As Evil Does.


The good Mr. Baber is currently a member of the provincial parliament in Ontario.

He was first elected to that position while tightly gripping Doug Ford's coattails in 2018.

Earlier this year Mr. Ford kicked Bader out of his caucus because, well...

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has kicked York Centre MPP Roman Baber out of the Progressive Conservative caucus for sending an open letter that calls for the province's lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions to end.
In a statement issued Friday morning, Ford called the comments from the two-page letter "irresponsible," saying Baber will not be allowed to seek re-election as a PC member.

"By spreading misinformation he is undermining the tireless efforts of our frontline health-care workers at this critical time, and he is putting people at risk," Ford said...

Clearly, the good Mr. Baber is operating under the principle that saying anything, no matter how bizarre, is the way to stay in the game now that his sugar Daddy's party has dumped him on the side of the road.

And if that doesn't work out there's always that most rebellious of networks to shillophantically conflate and/or fundraise for.

If you get my drift.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Anthony Fauci Explains Why He 'Stayed'.


Back in the darkest days of the pre-vaccine pandemic world at a time when Mr. Trump and his henchmen began to actively undercut him and his recommendations, including social distancing,  I honestly couldn't understand how or why Anthony Fauci stayed on.

In fact, I even saw Fauci's staying on as a member of the Trump Whitehouse COVID task force as aiding and abetting the madness.

Recently, however, Dr. Fauci explained to the Nieman Lab why he did not resign:

"...I was not personally against him, but [against] some of the things that he said and some of the people around him. The reason I did not consider resigning: I felt that there would be a vacuum if I did. The vacuum would be of someone who would stand up and say, ‘No, wait a minute, we can’t say that. That would be misleading.’ I was afraid that if I left there would be a bit of a vacuum. I felt that the disadvantage of having to hang around a somewhat hostile atmosphere, to me, that the positive aspect of being able to do some good in that position overrode any kind of instinct of saying, ‘I’ve had enough of this. I want to quit.’..."

Clearly, from the perspective of a post-vaccine development/trial/roll-out world, Fauci did the right thing.

After all, there are certain public service endeavours where it is critical that actual grown-ups are involved throughout.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Why, Exactly, Is The CBC Talking To Frank Luntz?


Well, you knew this was coming:
Republican politicians are increasingly speaking out this week in effort to persuade people who are skeptical about COVID-19 vaccines to take the shots as a new, more contagious variant sends caseloads soaring.

At recent news conferences and statements, some prominent Republicans have been imploring constituents to lay lingering doubts aside.

In Washington, the so-called Doctors Caucus gathered at the Capitol for an event to combat vaccine hesitancy. And in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis this week pointed to data showing the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients hadn't received shots.

"These vaccines are saving lives," said DeSantis. His statement was a contrast to messaging from his campaign team — he's considered a 2024 presidential candidate — which is selling campaign merchandise mocking masks and medical experts, including the nation's top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci....

But what is driving all this 'forget what I said yesterday' business now?

Well, according to the 'expert' the CBC, via the AP, spoke to it is being driven, at least in part, out of concerns about a public opinion backlash:
"I think they've finally realized that if their people aren't vaccinated, they're going to get sick, and if their people aren't vaccinated, they're going to get blamed for COVID outbreaks in the future," said Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who has been working with President Joe Biden's administration and public health experts to craft messaging to bring the vaccine hesitant off the fence.

In his focus groups, Luntz said many skeptics have struggled to assess the veracity of the things they read and hear...

The thing is, Mr. Luntz is a longtime paid crafter of messaging, most often Republican messaging, that has been used to rile up the base regardless the actual veracity of said 'messaging' and/or the validity of said 'crafting'.

The following is from a recent piece in Salon by Zacchary Petrizzo:
...Chris Ingram, a former senior vice president at the Luntz Research Company who worked at the company from 1997 through the early 2000s, told Salon that Luntz's claim to deliver objective data is a "total shtick and a scam."

Ingram described observing Luntz trying to manipulate focus groups that used "dial testing," in which participants spin a small handheld device, yielding real-time results in response to questions asked by the presenter. "Frank, when he would be hired by clients, whether they would be corporate or political, would sit in that room yelling, 'Keep turning the dials! Keep turning the dials!'" Ingram told Salon in a phone interview. Luntz's primary concern, Ingram said, was results that would yield more "compelling" data to be "present[ed] to the client."...

And then there's this:
...An exclusive Salon report earlier this week detailed that when Luntz presented himself as an impartial pollster running focus groups for VICE News and HBO in 2018, he was actually being paid by Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. In a statement to Salon, VICE News said it was "unaware of this affiliation, and Luntz did not disclose this information at the time of these productions."...



Here's a suggestion for the CBC, who, all by themselves, put Mr. Luntz on our TeeVee screens yesterday...

Make like the Cleveland Plain Dealer and get people like Mr. Luntz, people who, based on their track record, deliberately obfuscate, misrepresent public opinion and peddle codswallop, out of your rolledexes permanently.

Because until you do that you are part of the problem when it comes to the spreading misinformation cloaked with a veneer of respectablity.



Thursday, July 22, 2021

A New Press Model To Deal With Those Who Spout Demonstrable Falsehoods?


From Laura Hazard Owen writing for the Nieman Lab:

It wasn’t all that long ago that news outlets were doing a lot of handwringing over whether to ever use the word “lie” in relation to politicians lying about things. “Each time President Trump says something that we know, based on the evidence, is not accurate, we hear from readers who are upset that we did not call the president a liar,” The New York Times wrote in 2018.


...Many mainstream outlets have simply regurgitated false statements, tweeting them out with no context or turning them into headlines. (Hi CNN, AP, AP, Financial Times, New York Post, Reuters, and so on.)

Cleveland’s Plain Dealer decided to do something different. Back in March, the publication’s staffers grappled with questions over “our responsibility in how we cover the candidacy of Republican Josh Mandel for the U.S. Senate in 2022,” Chris Quinn, the VP of content at Advance Ohio and editor of, wrote at the time:
"The issue is that Mandel has a history of not telling the truth when he campaigns — he was our PolitiFact Ohio “Pants on Fire” champion during his first run for Senate because of the whoppers he told. More recently, he is given to irresponsible and potentially dangerous statements on social media. He’s proven himself to be a candidate who will say just about anything if it means getting his name in the news. We have not dealt with a candidate like this on the state level previously. […]

We ultimately decided not to write about Mandel’s call for DeWine to lift his coronavirus restrictions. Mandel is pretty much a nobody right now, a nobody begging for people to notice his tweets a year ahead of the Senate primary. Just because he makes outrageous, dangerous statements doesn’t mean it is news.

He remains desperate for attention. Last week, he challenged our columnist Leila Atassi to a point-by-point debate — to be published on our platforms — about coronavirus restrictions. Leila was eager to give it a go, knowing that she could use facts and science to obliterate Mandel in that debate.

I told her to decline. We are proud of our role as a center of discourse, with a diversity of viewpoints you can find nowhere else in the state. But we do not knowingly publish ridiculous and idiotic claims. Mandel did not want to have a debate with our columnist as much as he wanted to use our platform to get attention with demonstrably false claims about the virus."
Steve Gilliard, the greatest progressive blogger of all time*, once wrote the following about those who would spout codswallop:

"I'm not interested in debating them....I want to stop them."

So now, fifteen years later, it appears that the Gilliard Doctrine has been reborn in a mainstream media organ.

Imagine that!

*In my opinion at least......And maybe the opinion of some guy who lives out the in cornfields of Southern Illinois also.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Should We Thank Our Lucky Stars For...

...The 'News' Network We No Longer Have?

Which begs the (much, much, much) less important question...

If the Sun News Network were alive today, who would be the Canadian fauxian version of the good Mr. Carlson?

And, no,  I'm not talking about Arthur and/or Gordon Jump.



Sunday, July 18, 2021

(Future) Effect And Cause


(Future) effect (rising), via last Friday's New York Times:

As the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus fuels outbreaks in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Friday that “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”...

Cause, via last Tuesday's Tennessean:

The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but all diseases – amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers, according to an internal report and agency emails obtained by the Tennessean. If the health department must issue any information about vaccines, staff are instructed to strip the agency logo off the documents.

The health department will also stop all COVID-19 vaccine events on school property, despite holding at least one such event this month. The decisions to end vaccine outreach and school events come directly from Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, the internal report states.

Additionally, the health department will take steps to ensure it no longer sends postcards or other notices reminding teenagers to get their second dose of the coronavirus vaccines. Postcards will still be sent to adults, but teens will be excluded from the mailing list so the postcards are not “potentially interpreted as solicitation to minors,” the report states...


Come to think of it, perhaps that effect is not so far of in the future after all...

From today's New York Times:


Monday, July 12, 2021

Two Peas In A Political Pretzel Logic Pod.


Who said the worst of the bat shite poli-crazy has not started to spread north to Canuckistanmikitaville?

To wit....

Pod Person #1:

"Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Thursday (May 27, 2021)continued to make comparisons between her modern day opponents and Nazi Germany just days after her own party leaders condemned her for similar remarks.

At a rally in Georgia with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Greene said the Nazis were the National Socialist Party “just like the Democrats are now a national socialist party.”...

Pod Person #2:

That is all.


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Will Link Rot Destroy Our Collective Memory?


How do I know my memory is not what it used to be?

Well, the other day, while working on a wee post to come about Shohei Ohtani, I kept thinking that 'Moneyball' by Michael Lewis was actually called 'Billyball'.

Also, I increasingly find myself leaning on the archives tucked away down in this blog's basement whenever I have weird a thought about, say, something silly Ronny O' wrote about the patently obvious non-prospect of a BC Liberal/BC Conservative party fusion in 2012.

Which brings me to an aspect of old-timey blogging that I have always prided myself on - and that is that it is important to show your work with links 'n stuff that actually mean something.

The only problem with that now, in mid-2021, as reader NVG will tell you (and tell me, often, in the comment threads), is that the internet is rotting.

Jonathan Zittrain has the story in the Atlantic:

...It turns out that link rot and content drift are endemic to the web, which is both unsurprising and shockingly risky for a library that has “billions of books and no central filing system.” Imagine if libraries didn’t exist and there was only a “sharing economy” for physical books: People could register what books they happened to have at home, and then others who wanted them could visit and peruse them. It’s no surprise that such a system could fall out of date, with books no longer where they were advertised to be—especially if someone reported a book being in someone else’s home in 2015, and then an interested reader saw that 2015 report in 2021 and tried to visit the original home mentioned as holding it. That’s what we have right now on the web...


....We found that 50 percent of the links embedded in (U.S. Supreme) Court opinions since 1996, when the first hyperlink was used, no longer worked. And 75 percent of the links in the Harvard Law Review no longer worked.

People tend to overlook the decay of the modern web, when in fact these numbers are extraordinary—they represent a comprehensive breakdown in the chain of custody for facts. Libraries exist, and they still have books in them, but they aren’t stewarding a huge percentage of the information that people are linking to, including within formal, legal documents...

This development is bad enough for little F-troop list blogs like this one but in an era where shit-posters run countries, corporations and news organs this is a very disturbing development, indeed.


Image at the top of post...The pre-Parks and Rec edition of Andy Dwyer was not Scott Hatteberg and he did not bat left before he took on the role of A's early oughts catcher in Brad Pitt's movie of M. Lewis' book.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Your Evening Audio...Early Morning Rain (G. Lightfoot Cover)


First comes the music then comes the mondegreen...


It's The End Of The (Climate Change) World As We Know It...


From Adam Gabbatt in the Guardian:

Fox News Media, the company that owns the reactionary, climate crisis-skeptical Fox News, is launching a weather channel this year – a development that has climate crisis experts worried.

Fox Weather, a 24-hour channel devoted to all things meteorological, promises “cutting-edge display technology”, according to a press release, with “forecasting experts surrounding every major weather event”...


How long before the breathless reports about how Pacific Northwest heat domes are actually the result of differential convection currents generated by old growth forest islands in the pristine clear-cut stream?

Or some such thing.


Sunday, July 04, 2021

School's Out For Summer.


I've got a confession to make.

Which is that everything I ever learned about teaching I learned at summer camp. 

To be clear, when I first started I was not a good camp counsellor. However, things started to get better when I learned that kids really like stories - especially stories that you can start up anytime, anywhere and roll them out in instalments that can last an entire two week session.

And when I was working with ten year old boys the serial story that went over best was the 'Laughing Man' which I would alter and embellish as needed, taking off from starting points like the following:

"...Soon the Laughing Man was regularly crossing the Chinese border into Paris, France, where he enjoyed flaunting his high but modest genius in the face of Marcel Dufarge, the internationally famous detective and witty consumptive..."

Did I feel bad about ripping off J.D. Salinger?

Not really, especially given that he, too, had ripped off Victor Hugo.

And did I ever tell the kids the story of the doomed romance of Salinger's kinda/sorta camp counsellor that surrounded all the laughter?

Of course not!

Littler e. starts her first job as a counsellor at a summer camp tomorrow.

Here's hoping she has as much fun, and learns even more, than I ever did.

The camp, pictured at the top of the post, where C. and I worked in the early 80's had a 'no electronics' policy....Glad to hear that it still does.


Thursday, July 01, 2021

Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!


From the Wikiplex:

...From 1992 to 1994, Bonilla was the highest-paid player in the league, earning more than $6 million per year. Since 2011, Bonilla has been paid approximately $1.19 million by the New York Mets each year and he will receive that same amount every year until July 1, 2035. Some fans refer to these payments on July 1 as "Bobby Bonilla Day". This was part of a deal made when the Mets released Bonilla before the 2000 season while still owing him $5.9 million for the final year of his contract...


I  only saw Bonilla play, live, once.

And we sure as heckfire didn't slap our money down to see him. 

Instead, C. and I schlepped across the Bay to old Candlestick on a late August evening in 1992 to see the Giants and one of our favourite minor leaguers of all time, Steve Springer, get a very, very rare start at second base for the New York Mets.

In a professional baseball career that spanned fourteen years, Springer spent ten of those years stalled out at Triple A, the highest rung in the minor leagues. And in all that time he played fewer than ten games in the big leagues.

On that chilly summer night in 1992 Springer got the start at 2nd base for the Mets. He went two-for-three at the plate and was mobbed by his teammates after the game. 

But the play I remember most was a lazy fly ball to short right off the bat of Matt Williams in the bottom of the 4th. 

Bonilla, the Mets' right fielder didn't even move. Meanwhile, Springer sprinted out at break neck to a spot without looking and, at the last second, looked up, located the ball and caught it over his shoulder.

I don't know this for certain, but I'm pretty sure that the $37,654.32 Bonilla was paid for that one game was more than Springer made for the entire 1992 season given that he was promptly sent back to the minors soon thereafter, well before his cup of coffee even got cold.

Go figure.


After we saw that game at Candlestick, I wrote a story about it for the local (and long lamented) 'Bleacher Report' given that Springer was a big part of the PCL Championship winning Vancouver Canadians team in 1989. When a few hardcopies made their way down the coast by snail mail I sent sent one of them to Springer. A few weeks later he actually called up to thank me for it.

Which, it would appear, is just the kind of guy Springer was and still is.

The following is something he wrote on a Mets fan board when his name came up a while ago:

I am Steve Springer, and I enjoyed every minute of my 14 year career, though mostly all but about a month was in the minors. I spent 11 years in AAA and got over 1600 minor league hits, including playoffs, and 4 ML hits. I scouted with the Arizona Diamondbacks for 5 years and was the West Coast supervisor for three. Now I am an agent with a company called Gaames. I have a wife and two great kids. I made a CD called that I am getting great feedback from. I talk about the mental side of hitting, the stuff I learned when it was too late....

Imagine that.

Alternative sub-header?...."Make The Wilpons Pay!"  (all of it)


Trump Org Charges...The Lede And The Takeaway.


The lede, from the Guardian's Dominic Rushe and Victoria Bekiempis:

The Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, have been charged with a “sweeping and audacious illegal payment scheme” of tax-related crimes, marking the first criminal charges against the former president’s company following a years-long investigation by New York prosecutors...

The takeaway, from the same piece:

...Prosecutors have been pressing Weisselberg, 73, to cooperate with their investigations but with little success so far...

Which has us wondering just how many big corpMedia outlets are scrambling to book Michael Cohen, like, immediately.

Guess only time and/or the next news cycle or three will tell.


Sunday Set - All Things Coming Up Fathers.

The traditional, linearly typed ode to my Dad (and my Mom too) is....Here.


This Sunday's Set includes versions of:

Townes Van Zandt's most famous tune...Here's hoping our very own old Lefty's Dad jokes and political pragmatism don't ultimately force him to move to a proverbial Cleveland...And I mean that in the best possible way.

A cover of the red headed stranger's most famous cover...

Jason Isbell's 'White Man's World'...Along with a spoken word mea culpa from a much younger me for not doing the right thing at the time...

And, ya...These are the past week's Evening Audio tunes stitched together with some babbling in between...When I asked littler e. why there isn't a 'Kid's Day' this morning she said matter of factly that it was because 'Every day is kid's day.'...Imagine that.