Saturday, September 17, 2022

Apres Nous...


Why the long drought?


I can't really explain it except that when we took a short holiday at the end of July I discovered that I enjoyed being unplugged. And then, as soon as we got home, the deluge began that finally culminated last week with two massive grant submissions.

When I told my Dad, when we visited him Labour Day weekend, that the next ten days were going to be hellish and filled with late night data crunching and keyboard banging he looked up from his paper and said, 'Don't you have somebody to do that for you by now?' 

I didn't have an answer for him right away but when I mentioned it to a younger colleague, who is both a sharper scientist and a much better musician than me, he noted that the fact that I'm still coming up with grant ideas means just that. Which, I realized, when I thought about it a little, is a good thing.

Of course, we'll see if anybody thinks the ideas are good ones in a few months - early January to be exact.


When I'm spending a lot of time sitting in front of the keyboard I listen to a lot of stuff. Here are a few auditory notes from the last couple of weeks...

'Dead Eyes' - a podcast from a working actor about the time he lost a small part in a big production because Tom Hanks, allegedly, said he had 'dead eyes'

Bob Mackin seems to the be only local media guy who is really digging into the upcoming civic election so far.

Friend of the Blog Glen Clark was on for a full hour with Mo Amir and noted that big money, no matter where it comes from, is a very bad thing for the health of the body politic.

Lastly, I cannot believe that I entirely missed the Replacements back when they, not mention me, were young and bastardly...I blame it on gradual school and microscopes and the excitement of figuring out how to culture subpopulations of adrenocortical cells and all that.

As for that very sudden cheap 'holiday' on Monday that is resulting in so many people's last minute schedule juggling misery?....This!  (because, as we all know, the rain is coming)....


Monday, August 01, 2022

We're Not Partisan...


Sally Buzbee is the new executive editor of the Washington Post. 

Ms. Buzbee, who previously ran things at the Associated Press, recently instituted a 'Democracy' desk at the WaPo, which is being run by former National correspondent Griffe Witte.

So far so good.

Except, as noted by Charlotte Klein writing in Vanity Fair:
...(I)n my discussions about the (Post's) Democracy team with Buzbee and Witte, both deflected when asked whether threats to democracy are coming more from Republicans than Democrats. “I mean, if it’s Republicans who are doing it, if it’s Democrats who are doing it, it’s our job to call that out,” Buzbee said. “We are not partisan,” Buzbee added. “We are trying to report what is accurately happening in the country. The reality of the situation is that the election system is very decentralized and there’s a lot of people who impact it,” she said...
Sure thing.

Except when does 'not partisan' become schlerotic or, more to the point, downright dangerous to actual democracy?

Personally, I can't help but conclude that that time has already come at Ms. Buzbee's Washington Post.

After all, saying that the American election system has a 'lot of people who impact it' as a way to deflect from/ignore the overwhelming evidence that it is currently the Republican party (and only the Republican party) that is acting to subvert US'ian democracy at every level of government is pure, unadulterated ostrichology writ large.

In 144 point bold type.


...Former WaPo editor Ben Bradlee (image at top, center) speaking to his Woodsteins about the anti-democratic actions of  one particular party's president (allegedly).


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Pushback Can Win.


In April of this year a Republican state senator from Michigan named Lana Theis took a page out of her party's smear book and sent out a fundraising Email in which she singled out a Democratic colleague by name for no good reason at all:
"...These are the people we are up against. Progressive social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can't teach can't groom and sexualize kindergarteners or that 8-year olds are responsible for slavery..."


While Ms. Theis may be a Whackaloon in good standing who lives, breathes and works tirelessly to play that faux game of 'Own The Libs!', she (and/or her 'team') may also have been motivated by the fact that she is facing a primary challlenge from an even farther right, Trump-endorsed, Whackaloon named Mike Detmer that involves a strange bedfellows sidebar and Betsy DeVos' billions...

Regardless, Ms. McMorrow did not take Ms. Theis' smear (or her mangled syntax) lying down. Instead, she gave a brilliant, unapologetic speech, shown above, on the floor of the Michigan Senate that included statements such as the following:
Hate wins when people like me stand by and let it happen. I won't...

..So who am I?

I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense...

...I want my daughter to know that she is loved, supported, and seen for whoever she becomes. I want her to be curious, empathetic, and kind.

I want every child to feel seen, heard, and supported, not marginalized and targeted if they are not straight, white, and Christian...

...People who are different are not the reason our roads are in bad shape, or healthcare costs are too high, or teachers are leaving the profession...

... I want to be very clear right now: Call me whatever you want. I know who I am. I know what faith and service mean, and what it calls for in this moment. We will not let hate win.

There was quite a bit of media buzz about the speech at the time, mostly focussed on the spectacle.

However, the final whistle has blown and the score has been tallied. Clearly, Ms. McMorrow won.

By a landslide:
The numbers are in and it’s official: The attack on Democratic Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow backfired.

The Michigan Republican state senator who falsely described McMorrow as a “groomer” in an April fundraising email raised less than $300 in the days following the solicitation, according to campaign finance filings. McMorrow, on the other hand, raised more than $1 million...


...Theis didn’t see an influx of small-dollar donations from the solicitation — her take from individual donors was just $235. But McMorrow used the response to her speech to build a data base of 11,000 donors from all 50 states, according to her husband and treasurer Ray Wert...

...Theis didn’t return POLITICO requests for comments. Her husband, Sam, hung up on a reporter when asked about the sum: “I wouldn’t have any information on that, go ahead and do a search on the database, thanks,” he said...

Imagine that!


Friday, July 29, 2022

HST Fridays...Will The Real Raoul Please Stand Up?


...“In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.” ...

The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter...


The first quote above is one of the most oft-pulled bits from Thompson's most famous work which later became the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Personally, that's a piece I rarely re-read because unlike, say, all that is amassed in the Great Shark Hunt (or even the Campaign Trail book), I find the Vegas screed, above all, to be a lark (as it was intended to be while Thompson was unwinding/avoiding writing a massive piece for Wenner about Mexican-American unrest in Southern California called Strange Rumblings in Aztlan).


Just after the bit about crime and stupidity in the Vegas screed Thompson, masquerading as alter ego Raoul Duke, also wrote the following:

It is a weird feeling to sit in a Las Vegas hotel at four in the morning – hunkered down with a notebook and a tape recorder in a $35 a day suite and a fantastic room service bill, run up in 48 hours of total madness – knowing that just as soon as dawn comes up you are going to flee without paying a fucking penny …


This was the final step. I had taken all the grapefruit and other luggage out to the car a few hours earlier.

Now it was only a matter of slipping the noose: Yes, extremely casual behavior, wild eyes hidden behind these Saigon-mirror sunglasses … waiting for the Shark to roll up...

Which got me wondering...

If and when the going gets legally tough for the good Mr. Trump, will he turn pro or will he slink out of town unseen and unheard like Mr. Duke long before he became everybody's favourite uncle?


Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Right To Work When (Really) Young.


Joshua Schneyer, Mica Rosenberg and Kristina Cooke have published an extremely disturbing story with Reuters:
A subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co has used child labor at a plant that supplies parts for the Korean carmaker's assembly line in nearby Montgomery, Alabama, according to area police, the family of three underage workers, and eight former and current employees of the factory.

Underage workers, in some cases as young as 12, have recently worked at a metal stamping plant operated by SMART Alabama LLC, these people said...

Metal stamping? 

Gosh. That is not flipping burgers.

But is the practice actually widespread and exploitative?

...One former worker at SMART, an adult migrant who left for another auto industry job last year, said there were around 50 underage workers between the different plant shifts, adding that he knew some of them personally. Another former adult worker at SMART, a U.S. citizen who also left the plant last year, said she worked alongside about a dozen minors on her shift...

As you might expect, the corporate entity concerned buries this practice, and these kids (many of whom appear to be immigrants), under layers of contracted hiring services in what appears to be a bald-faced effort to avoid any accountability whatsoever in a US'ian state where labour laws are lax and unions have been effectively neutered.

Is this the new modern world we want to live (and buy cheap cars) in?

Subheader ear worm wriggling?...This!


Friday, July 22, 2022

Will Rare Outbreaks Become More Commonplace And Widespread?


The first very unfortunate case of polio has been detected in the United States in almost a decade:
A case of polio has been detected in New York, the first instance of the virus in almost a decade.

The case was confirmed in a resident of Rockland County, about 36 miles north of New York City, the first case since 2013, according to the state and county health departments.

The patient is no longer considered contagious, the AP reports, but has developed paralysis. The patient was unvaccinated, the CDC reports.

Tests run by the state health department's lab, and confirmed by the CDC, showed that the patient had contracted a strain of polio likely derived from an oral polio vaccine, which are no longer administered in the U.S...

Will such outbreaks become more commonplace and widespread in the States?

Well, if a certain intertwined cluster of litigious conservative organizations have their way that could very easily happen:
Through a wave of pandemic-related litigation, a trio of small but mighty conservative legal blocs has rolled back public health authority at the local, state and federal levels, recasting America's future battles against infectious diseases.

Galvanized by what they've characterized as an overreach of COVID-related health orders issued amid the pandemic, lawyers from the three overlapping spheres — conservative and libertarian think tanks, Republican state attorneys general, and religious liberty groups — are aggressively taking on public health mandates and the government agencies charged with protecting community health.

"I don't think these cases have ever been about public health," said Daniel Suhr, managing attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, a Chicago-based libertarian litigation group. "That's the arena where these decisions are being made, but it's the fundamental constitutional principles that underlie it that are an issue."

Through lawsuits filed around the country, or by simply wielding the threat of legal action, these loosely affiliated groups have targeted individual counties and states and, in some cases, set broader legal precedent...

And how do the legal beagles involved justify their actions?
...Several lawyers associated with these conservative groups told Kaiser Health News they did not think their work would have a negative effect on public health. "I honestly think the best way for them to preserve the ability to protect the public health is to do it well, and to respect people's rights while you do it," said Becket (Law)'s (Mark) Rienzi...

Given the radical transformation of the US'ian judiciary recently this is a very scary situation, indeed.

It will be most interesting to see if things in Canada move from the scream-a-thons to litigation anytime soon...Not sure such a strategy will gain as much traction here.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

HST Fridays...Why Smear Now?


"He was sunk in despair. He was desperate... he called his equally depressed campaign manager and instructed him to.....accuse his high-riding opponent (the pig farmer) of having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children... His campaign manager was shocked. 'We can't say that, Lyndon,' he said. 'It's not true.' 'Of course it's not,' Johnson barked at him, 'but let's make the bastard deny it.'..."
Hunter Thompson, on Lyndon Johnson's 1948 Congressional Campaign.


Well, whadd'ya know...

Kevin Falcon got a local proMedia maven to bite and try and force David Eby to deny a baseless smear recently.

Charlie Smith has the story in the Georgia Straight:
In a recent Global B.C. News interview with Paul Haysom, NDP leadership candidate David Eby was asked to respond to a quote from the leader of the B.C. Liberals...


..."If you look at crime, for example, his catch-and-release program, you know, he's been running as attorney general since day one has been a disaster," Falcon declared...

Of course, this is ridiculous on its face given the role of the Attorney General in this province as Mr. Smith clearly points out in his piece.

But that doesn't mean that Mr. Falcon will cease and desist:
...The B.C. Liberal leader reiterated this message today (July 21) on The Early Edition on CBC Radio One.

Again, he used the phrase "catch-and-release" to describe Eby's record as attorney general...

All of which begs the question, which is 'Why?'

Not 'why' as in 'why is Mr. Falcon doing this?', given that the smear is has been part of the BC Liberal Party stock and trade for some time now.

Instead, I think the real question is, 'why now?' given that Mr. Eby has not even been elected BCNDP leader yet?

Is it possible that Falcon is out on the hustings bleating demonstrable codswallop precisely because Mr. Eby is the horse the BCL braintrust (still?) fears most and thus wants to face as the real, actual Dipper leader?

If that was the case it could explain Mr. Falcon's Canuckletteresque 'catch and release' /'soft on crime' strategy.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other.

After writing a column describing David Eby's efforts, and numerous accomplishments, as an MLA, first as a member of the opposition and later as a member of the cabinet, Vaughn Palmer has the following to say, sans receipts:
"...Like other brilliant, driven individuals, Eby does not come across as a team player..."

In contrast, Charlie Smith, brings those missing receipts, all 48 of them:
"...David Eby became the first candidate to enter the B.C. NDP leadership race. And he has the support of 48 members of his caucus, making it practically inevitable that he will succeed John Horgan as party's leader..."

Imagine that.


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Shrewdness Or Conviction?


Writing in the Georgia Straight yesterday, Charlie Smith suggested that a provincial election race between David Eby and Kevin Falcon could become a battle of Millenial vs. Boomer voters.

It's an interesting piece, although it does leave out any analysis of which way the Alex P. Keaton vote will swing (there, I fear, Mr. Falcon may have the advantage). 

Regardless, the one graph in Mr. Smith's piece I do take issue with is the following:
"...Eby, more than anyone, is shrewd enough to realize that many millennials are far more interested in racial and gender equality than preceding generations, who sometimes mouthed all the right platitudes but retained control through their mostly white old-boys’ clubs..."

Why do I have a problem with that?

Because, based on Mr. Eby's track record, I think his views on equality have much more to do with conviction than shrewdness.

Which is just one of the reasons this boomer would (will?) likely vote for him.

Subheader....Given that Eby was born the year punk broke and Falcon in '63, I reckon that, despite the age gap, they both must have played the greatest first day after Christmas (because that's how long it would last) game of all times at least once (It's all  in the wrist action!)...
Of course, if Mr. E. manages to mobilize the Z's, province-wide (which he has done locally in the past), well...


Monday, July 18, 2022

Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone.



Update: Thanks to reader Graham for pointing out that the Cambie store is still very much alive as 'Video Cat'

littler e. came by the house on the weekend to clean up a few remnants left behind in the closet of her old room.

Heckfire.  I should probably do that at my own parents' place where we left a bunch of stuff thirty years ago when C. and I took off for the Excited States with nothing more than that which we could stuff into the back of a 1981 Mazda GLC.

Anyway, while she was here e. found the following...

She figures I gave it to her so that she could ride her bike over to rent something a few (or more?) years ago.

I wasn't so sure about that but we did agree that somebody should have headed over to cash in on the free one we had coming...


We really should have gone sooner.

(and more often)

One good thing...Black Dog's podcast is still going...The last in-store looked at 'High Fidelity'.


Alberta's Happy Shiny Bauble People.

Alberta is putting taxpayer dollars down on the shiny bauble that is carbon capture and sequestration.

Meghan Potkins has the just barely above press release stenography story in the Financial Post/Postmedia:

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) announced this week it would provide more than $40 million to 11 carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) projects across the province through its Carbon Capture Kickstart fund.

“What we’re really trying to do is catalyze a lot of the technical work that needs to be undertaken (to) actually see carbon capture technologies deployed,” ERA CEO Justin Riemer said in an interview with the Financial Post...

And why would the 'let the market decide' obsessed Alberta government (ostensibly) do such a thing?


...Nearly a dozen carbon capture projects from Alberta’s oilpatch and industrial sectors will receive an injection of cash from the provincial government aimed at accelerating the deployment of more than $20 billion in capital spending on emissions reduction...

But, as reader Bruce noted recently, it would appear that carbon capture, writ large, is worth pretty much absolutely nothing when it comes to reducing atmospheric CO2 emissions.

In other words, it's make-believe wrapped in PR speak designed to extend the life of fossil fuels, pure and simple.


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Down To The Water With Dogs.


One lunch time in the third grade I 'forgot' my coat in the cloak room and tried to make it home in a downpour without getting soaked by sprinting from tree to tree up Monterey Avenue.

They're bigger now, but even back then there were many large, leafy oak and chestnut trees along that stretch of road.

Thus, I figured that my logic was impeccable and that my plan was perfect.

Boy, was I wrong on both counts - and my mother was not amused.


That memory came flooding back this morning while the Whackadoodle-II and I were well into our beach walk.

Suddenly, the ceiling came down, the sky grew dark, and it started pouring like it rarely does around here in mid-July.

So we sprinted for the trees, and the canopy kept us relatively dry...

For about three minutes.

After that, we gave up and I threw fetching sticks out into the water as we strolled back toward the car.

Boy, did we get soaked.

The squall had pretty much passed as we approached the parking lot and came across the couple with the two big dogs that we see most weekends...The woman, who is very nice, said that both the W-II and I looked a little 'bedraggled'...Good word that, sounds like what it means... 


A Harder, Meaner Gilead, Part II


From Frances Stead Sellers and Fenit Nerappil in the Washington Post:
A woman with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy sought emergency care at the University of Michigan Hospital after a doctor in her home state worried that the presence of a fetal heartbeat meant treating her might run afoul of new restrictions on abortion.

At one Kansas City, Mo., hospital, administrators temporarily required “pharmacist approval” before dispensing medications used to stop postpartum hemorrhages, because they can also be also used for abortions.

And in Wisconsin, a woman bled for more than 10 days from an incomplete miscarriage after emergency room staff would not remove the fetal tissue amid a confusing legal landscap ethat has roiled obstetric care...

Part I is here...The prequel is here.


Friday, July 15, 2022

HST Fridays...The Rolling Never Stopped For Sisyphus.


It is hard to shed anything but crocodile tears over White House speechwriter Patrick Buchanan's tragic analysis of the Nixon debacle. "It's like Sisyphus," he said. "We rolled the rock all the way up the mountain... and it rolled right back down on us."


The left cannot let go of Jan. 6. Indeed, it has fixated upon, exploited and exaggerated the riot to discredit and destroy the Trump presidency in the history books and to prevent Donald Trump from ever running or being elected president again.

And yes, I know Mr. Acosta when I see him, bare-handed or otherwise...It's just that I always thought that the Docktor's (real, non-Samoan) lawyer bore a vague resemblance to a certain Nixonian speechwriter.


The Expediency, It Burns.


And here you may have thought that Mr. Poilievre was the most craven of all the CPC leadership candidates...

And, yes, you did read that (literally) right...Public policy pronouncements of one of our country's major political parties are now being funnelled through the 'Epoch Times'....


A Harder, Meaner Gilead.


In the run-up to the US'ian Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, I wrote a post called 'A Kinder, Gentler Gilead'. In that post I pointed out how a Republican-linked media wurlitzer organ published a piece in which the authors argued that, instead of prosecuting women and throwing them in jail for getting an abortion, they would instead subject them to mandatory psychiatric custody.

Well that was then (i.e. a month ago) and this now:
"Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita went on Fox News Wednesday night to say he is looking into the Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who provided a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio with an abortion.

“We're gathering the evidence as we speak, and we're going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure,” Rokita said. “If she failed to report it in Indiana, it's a crime for — to not report, to intentionally not report.”..."

That report was from Lizzie Kane et al. published in the Indiana Star at noon on Thursday.

Last night the paper posted the following update:
Late Thursday afternoon, IndyStar received a copy of the 10-year-old's terminated pregnancy report from the Indiana Department of Health. It shows that Bernard reported the abortion before the state's reporting deadline, and that Bernard indicated the 10-year-old had suffered abuse.


To recap...

A young girl suffered the worst kind of abuse, one of the consequences of which was that she became pregnant.

Due to the Ohio law that was triggered by the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade she could get no help in her home state. As a result, her parents took her to Indiana where the law there made it possible for Dr. Bernard to help the young girl get the healthcare she needed that will make it possible for her to start moving on with the rest of her childhood. 

And the Attorney General of Indiana went after the Doctor concerned over an imaginary reporting infraction in an effort to demonstrate his bogus bonafides in New Gilead?


Thursday, July 14, 2022

He's Their Pusherman.


Whatever they need he'll get it for them.

Because he's their Pusherman.

And when it comes to the big lie, it turns out he's still pushing the hard stuff:
Former President Donald Trump is now desperately attempting to snatch Wisconsin from the jaws of his defeat by suddenly claiming he won the state in the 2020 presidential election.

He didn’t.

His reasoning? Since the Wisconsin state Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday sharply curtailing the number of drop boxes for absentee ballots, that must mean all the votes in those boxes in November 2020 were somehow fake — and apparently were all marked for victor Joe Biden...

Please note that the dateline on that story, from Mary Papenfuss in Huffpo, is July 8th, 2022 (i.e. last week).


Meanwhile, the Pusherman is sending his goons out to the most sketchy of media street corners to make sure that the customer base knows that the next batch of 'stuff' will have the biggest kick of all...

Regarding the header/post theme-induced earworm...Now is always a good time to listen to a little Curtis Mayfield.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Overturning of Roe v. Wade Is Also Adversely Affecting The Healthcare Of Women Who Are Not Pregnant.


Methotrexate is a very old chemotherapy drug that, when administered in low doses, also broadly suppresses immune function.

Thus, it is clinically useful in treating autoimmune-associated disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn's disease and psoriasis.

Thus, the drug is prescribed to a lot of folks.

However, because methotrexate is also used as an abortifacient, most often to safely treat hazardous ectopic pregnancies, it turns out that, suddenly, certain US'ian folks, particularly folks with a uterus even if they are not pregnant, suddenly can't get the drug to treat their illnesses.

Sonja Sharp has that story in the Los Angeles Times:
Six days after the Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, lupus patient Becky Schwarz got an unexpected message from her rheumatologist.

“This is a notice to let you know that we are pausing all prescriptions and subsequent refills of methotrexate,” the message read. “This decision has been made in response to the reversal of Roe vs. Wade.”...


...In Texas, dispensing methotrexate to someone who uses it to induce a miscarriage after 49 days of gestation is a felony; that makes pharmacists hesitant to fill such prescriptions for almost anyone with a uterus. A new total ban on abortion in Tennessee will effectively criminalize any medication that could disrupt pregnancy past the point of fertilization, with strict exceptions for a patient who will otherwise die. And in Virginia, confusion over rules about who is permitted to prescribe drugs “qualified as abortifacients” may be blocking access to the medication.

“That’s what was shocking to me,” said Schwarz, a 27-year-old who lives in Tysons Corner, Va. “In a state where I thought I was relatively protected regardless of what the Supreme Court decided, I found out I wasn’t.”...


...Since its reversal, many patients have been delayed or denied this “gold-standard” treatment for conditions that have nothing to do with pregnancy.

“I have gotten some reports where children have been denied methotrexate for their juvenile arthritis until they’ve proven they’re not pregnant,” said Dr. Cuoghi Edens, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at University of Chicago Medicine and a rheumatology expert who treats adults and children.

In one case, a pharmacist initially refused to dispense methotrexate to an 8-year-old girl in Texas. In a note the child’s doctor shared with Edens, the pharmacist wrote, “Females of possible child bearing potential have to have diagnosis on hard copy with state abortion laws.”...


...“The majority of rheumatic diseases affect females at substantially higher rates than males,” Edens explained. “The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis in women to men is 3 to 1. For lupus it’s 10 to 1. And so rheumatology is a very female-predominate patient population.”

Such patients take a far lower dose of methotrexate than is used to treat ectopic pregnancy or breast cancer. Most are counseled to use contraceptives, and to switch to alternative treatments if they seek to get pregnant.

Nevertheless, some doctors have already stopped prescribing methotrexate rather than risk falling afoul of antiabortion laws...

Meanwhile, in Ohio, that terrible tragic story about a child who had to go to another state to get proper health care, despite certain corporate media organs best efforts to deny it, is demonstrably true...


Technological Climate Salvation...What Is It Good For?


In my last post I asked what carbon capture and sequestration is good for.

Reader Bruce took the bait, made like Edwin Starr, and answered 'Absolutely nothing!'

However, in the larger sense, bright and shiny faux-fixes like carbon capture may actually be worth, as Declan McManus might say,  'Less than zero'.

James Dyke, from the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, explains:

We are not going to limit global warming to 1.5°C. This means we will soon be entering a much warmer and more dangerous world.

The threshold of 1.5°C was the highest ambition of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement. It was arrived at by a realisation that warming beyond this temperature would produce intolerable suffering to those most exposed to global warming.

So what can we make of politicians who continue to argue that ‘1.5°C is still alive’? Are they misinformed or are they simply lying?

I believe many are in denial about the types of solutions the climate crisis demands. Rather than do the – admittedly – very difficult political work of eking out our supplies of fossil fuels while accelerating a just transition to post-carbon societies, politicians are going all out on technological salvation. This is a new form of climate denial, which involves imagining large-scale carbon dioxide removal that will clean up the carbon pollution that we continue to pump into the atmosphere...

The crazy (infuriating?) thing about this is, as Dyke explains in his piece, very straightforward, non-shiny things that can be done right now (e.g. an accelerated shift to non-fossil fuel-based energy production and infrastructure-driven adaptation policies) that will truly help mitigate the situation as the 1.5°C threshold is reached and breeched.


This leads to another obvious question...

If we were to do these non-shiny things as soon as possible, who loses?

Image at the top of the post from an archived KCET public television piece demonstrating that true mitigation has been done before to deal with the smog in Los Angeles.
Earworm in the sub-header?....This!


Monday, July 11, 2022

Carbon Capture And Sequestration...What Is It Good For?



I fully understand that the best way to slow the rise of atmospheric CO2 is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

However,  at first glance at least, it does seem reasonable to develop mitigating strategies and technologies as tell.

Whether we, the public, should help pay for such strategies and technologies is a more difficult issue, particularly if we are not sharing significantly in the profits*.

One thing I do know for sure is that, if we are going to help pay for such strategies and technologies they darned well better work.

When it comes to 'carbon capture and sequestration', Geoff Dembicki, writing in the Tyee, has thoroughly fisked industry and lickspittle reports going back three decades and makes a solid case that it doesn't work - at least not well enough to justify the cost (and/or the optimism/boosterism of tar sands producers):
...Carbon capture and storage — has a major disqualifying flaw. It may be technically feasible to bury oilsands emissions, but it is also prohibitively expensive, so much so that the technology doesn’t “appear to be economic” and would “achieve a relatively minor impact in reducing CO2 emissions.”

That blunt assessment didn’t come from an environmental group, but rather from a company leading the current carbon capture and storage effort: Imperial Oil.

More than three decades ago, the Exxon-owned oilsands producer undertook one of Canada’s first major studies of “underground carbon dioxide disposal.” The company’s findings, which were published in a newly reviewed 1991 Imperial Oil research paper, were not encouraging. The technology requires massive expenditures, would only mitigate a small fraction of Canada’s carbon output and comes with “large net costs to society,” Imperial concluded...


...“Despite years of hype,” a libertarian think tank called the Manhattan Institute concluded in 2018, “CCS still costs too much and cannot come close to matching the scale of growing global carbon-dioxide emissions.” The institute has reportedly received more than $1 million in donations from (Imperial Oil's parent company) Exxon...


If they know it won't work, why do the fine folks running outfits like Imperial Oil keep pushing for this particular strategy?
...That’s simple, (Greanpeace's Keith) Stewart told The Tyee. “It extends the life of fossil fuels,” he said...


Perhaps developing those mitigating technologies and strategies isn't always so reasonable after all.

*Can't help but wonder if making such decisions would be easier/more straight forward if we had gone all in, Norway style, with the NEP...
Meanwhile...'Record-low price for UK offshore wind is four times cheaper than gas.'


Sunday, July 10, 2022

Twenty Million.


You don't even have to get past The Economist's paywall to get to their kicker about estimates of the number of lives saved by COVID vaccines in the first year of use:

Of course, none of this will stop the screamers from yelling and stamping on their keyboards however...

As for the problem of decreased effectiveness of the first generation vaccines
against the latest Omicron variants...Eric Topol explains that the increased mutational burden in the new variants means that the immune response raised by those vaccines (and infection with earlier viral variants) is suboptimal...


Friday, July 08, 2022

HST Fridays...The More Things Change, The More Things Change...


....In Idaho.

...When news of his (Hemingway's) death made headlines in 1961 there must have been other people besides myself who were not as surprised by the suicide as by the fact that the story was date-lined Ketchum, Idaho...


...Standing on a corner in the middle of Ketchum it is easy to see the connection Hemingway must have made between this place and those he had known in the good years. Aside from the brute beauty of the mountains, he must have recognized an atavistic distinctness in the people that piqued his sense of dramatic possibilities. It is a raw and peaceful little village, especially in the off season with neither winter skiers nor summer fishermen to dilute the image. Only the main street is paved; most of the others are no more than dirt and gravel tracks that seem at times to run right through front yards.

From such a vantage point a man tends to feel it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole...
A music festival organized by a white supremacist group and featuring bands that reference Nazi history will take place in Boise this weekend, according to an event poster shared on social media. The event, called “Hills of Hate Camp,” will be held in Boise on Saturday, the poster showed. The poster was shared on Telegram, a social media site, in a group promoting white nationalism in the Pacific Northwest. The group has called itself the “Pacific Northwest Territorial Imperative.” 

It was also shared on Twitter by Redoubt Antifascists, an anonymous group that calls out extremism in the region. 

According to the poster, the festival will be held by Northwest Hammerskins and Crew 38, off-shoots of the Hammerskin Nation, which is considered “the most violent and best-organized neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States” by the Anti-Defamation League. The Anti-Defamation League identifies the national group as a white supremacist group. 

The poster advertised an unnamed “special guest speaker,” as well as three bands — Beer Hall Putsch, 13 Knots and Ironwill — with ties to white supremacy. Beer Hall Putsch refers to a failed 1923 Nazi coup attempt that sent Adolf Hitler to prison, where he wrote “Mein Kampf.” 13 Knots has released music under Wewelsburg Records, a German label affiliated with the white power Rock Against Communism movement. Ironwill has released music under the white power record label Label 56...

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Feline Fealty Before The Fall.


From yesterday, when Boris Johnson was still Britain's Prime Minister...


Who, in all their feline-o-philic wisdom, will the BBC and Fleet Street focus on tomorrow?


Wednesday, July 06, 2022

What I'm Listening To...Mother Country Radicals.

Mother Country Radicals is a most interesting podcast about the history of the Weather Underground and how it was, at least in the early days, entwined with the Black Panthers.

It's a personal story that clearly illustrates the dangers of fanaticism even when it is submerged beneath a weird veneer of a pseudo-normal family life on the run, given that it is authored and narrated by playwright Zayd Dohrn who is the son of William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, two of the WU's founders.

Interestingly, because Ayers was a casual acquaintance of a certain Illinois Senator in Chicago many years after his WU days this made it possible for Sarah Palin to start bleating about how Barack Obama was 'palling around with terrorists' during the 2008 presidential election campaign. 

The Tax, It Must Be Crazy.

Sonia Furstenau and other provincial green party leaders across the country are calling for a windfall profit tax on oil and gas companies:
...While people across the country are facing impossible decisions (do they buy groceries or pay rent?) oil and gas companies have been raking in record-breaking profits — $8 billion in the first quarter of 2022 alone.

The roots of this financial crisis are complex, but one thing is crystal clear: corporations should not be profiting off the suffering and sacrifices of the public.

That’s why the BC Greens, the New Brunswick Greens and the PEI Greens are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to implement a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas sector...

As David Moscrop notes in Jacobin, the federal NDP has been calling for a more broadly based windfall profit tax for some time:
...In the fall of 2020, the party reminded the country that “Canada’s top twenty richest people are close to $40 billion richer than they were before the pandemic hit.” Since then, things have only gotten worse. At the time, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh proposed a 1 percent tax on families “with fortunes over $20 million” alongside higher taxes for web giants and “a temporary COVID-19 Excess Profit Tax.” The rate of this tax would have been hefty: double, at least, what the Liberals levied in their partial measure...


What's the point of such an initiative?

Back to Mr. Moscrop...
...The goal of an excess profit tax is to combat profiteering during a crisis. Such a tax can serve to help limit inflation by keeping prices unrelated to supply chain issues down....

But has it been done before and does it actually work or will it wreck the economy?


It turns out it has been used before, by both the U.S. and Canada during the World Wars of the 20th century:
...Both countries imposed temporary excess profit taxes during the First and Second World Wars.

Allison Christians, the H. Heward Stikeman Chair in Tax Law at Montreal’s McGill University, who has researched excess profit taxes, said such a temporary tax would make “great sense” in the current environment...


...“It’s not a punishment of their success. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that the brokenness of the market has created a windfall for them,” she said in an interview. “And if the government takes some of that, especially now to pay for things that we now really are struggling to pay for, for example, health care, then that’s good over all for the economy.”

Prof. Christians said her review of Canada’s excess profit tax during the Second World War left her with the impression that it raised some revenue, but not a lot, and that it didn’t harm the economy...

And did anyone do an analysis of how much revenue the NDP's proposed tax would raise?

The answer, of course, is yes:
...A new 15 per cent tax on companies that made “excess profits” during the COVID-19 pandemic would net nearly $8 billion to the government’s coffers, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer...


Doesn't sound so crazy to me.


Tuesday, July 05, 2022

What I'm Listening To...The Pink House.


The 'Pink House' in Jackson was the last clinic to provide women with a safe place to obtain an abortion in the American state of Mississippi:

On June 24, Diane Derzis stood outside Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. Behind her loomed the building’s large, bubblegum-hued façade that has earned it the nickname “The Pink House.”

Her clinic has been an icon of abortion rights in Mississippi. And it is at the centre of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, in the most cataclysmic case for the cause in generations: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. With that case’s reversal of the landmark 1973 ruling, American women no longer have a federally protected right to seek and obtain an abortion...

Now, two weeks after the overturning of Roe, the Pink House has closed its doors, seemingly for good.

In Jackson, at least.

Because the folks behind the Jackson Women's Health Organization are working to open a clinic three states away in New Mexico.

As only it can, 'This American Life' tells the human stories behind the struggle to keep the spirit of the Pink House alive.

It's a great listen.


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Towers, In West Point Grey?


We're talking about the old Safeway site on W. 10th between Sasamat and Tolmie.

And it's not just a proposal for towers, but a decent amount of below market rental as well.

Could it actually happen?

Well, as noted by the intrepid City Duo duo, based on the first public hearing where folks did not go completely NIMBY bonkers it just might....maybe...potentially, perhaps, possibly....happen:
...(B)y the time I arrived at this church the line to get in stretched for about a hundred feet. Luckily the time went by pretty quickly, and often I would hear those leaving remark they had already taken part in the virtual presentation the night prior, and just came to ask a question. Still, I was certainly surprised by what I saw when I got into this room...


...Do not get me wrong, many were quite unhappy to see these two 14 floor towers, and even the 5 floor podium had some saying this was way too tall. Yet almost everyone I observed was willing to hold their noises and support this form as it meant their neighbourhood would once again have a grocery store. Like one person stated, the only reason they missed living in Fairview was because it was such an active area.

Others feared this would eventually lead to these blocks being transformed into something that resembled Cambie Street. This group concluded they could accept this project as it replaced the old Safeway, but firmly believed plans for a six floor rental building proposed at 10th and Highbury was completely out of place. That said, city council’s decision to route the UBC SkyTrain through the Jericho Lands was warmly received, as it meant there wouldn’t be one located at Sasamat...

This could be interesting and, potentially, a good thing.


The Brownshirting Of Canada.


You may have thought that my last post, in which I suggested that at least some of the fine convoy-supporting folks marching with/surrounding/enveloping a certain candidate for the CPC party leadership may have things in common with figures from history who wore shirts of brown, was a little over the top.

Except, this, from Brigitte Bureau of the CBC:

One of the judges who presided over the court hearings of Freedom Convoy organizers is speaking out after receiving threats considered serious enough to require police intervention, according to information obtained by Radio-Canada and CBC.

The judge in question confirmed that supporters of the convoy from Canada and the United States sent several offensive messages, but the message that prompted police to react threatened their physical safety, the judge said.

CBC has agreed to withhold the judge's identity to protect their safety.

"I thought, should I tell my children not to come home for a while?" the judge said.

"I changed my alarm system. I was advised not to take the same route every day," the judge added. "You feel vulnerable in your house, in your own home."...


On The Plus Side...

On the plus side, only a few of the shirts appear to be brown...


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Grey Lady Takes To The Fainting Couch.

The following is the NY Times front page, above the fold summary of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony to the US'ian January 6th Congressional Committee earlier today:

I couldn't help but note the following in the headlines, above:

"He (Trump) Knew Crowd Was Armed, but Tried to Loosen Security, Panel is Told"

Why note that?

Because it so sugarcoats what Ms. Hutchinson actually said to the Committee regarding what she heard Mr. Trump say backstage before his rally on January 6th:

"I don't care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me, take the F'ing Mags away."

In this context, 'mags' were the magnonometers or weapon detectors that were being used to screen people coming to Mr. Trump's rally that was held just prior to the insurrection at the Capitol. 

Furthermore, Ms. Hutchinson told the Committee that Mr. Trump made the statement above after he had been told that security personnel needed to keep the magnometers in place because they had identified armed people in the crowd.

And why did Mr. Trump want the 'mags' removed when he knew it would allow armed people to join the crowd at the rally?

Because he had just been shown photos demonstrating that the crowd that had come to hear him speak had not filled the rally area known as the 'Ellipse'.

, as the deflector-spike spin cranks up A.G. of 'Mueller She Wrote' makes an important point re: eyeballs on the thing...


Monday, June 27, 2022

Your Evening Audio...Something A Little Different.


I am no Beatles freak but that didn't stop me from being fascinated by Andrew Hickey's latest podcast on all of the events that led to the making of the Beatles 'All You Need Is Love' for the bizarre  'live by satellite' 'Our World' TV special.

The podcast covers the period from April 1966 to August 1967 when so much was happening personally, culturally and musically for the four members of the (by then disintegrating) band as they tried to keep up with all kinds of other folks, including Brian Wilson.

I found it particularly interesting to learn (again, I'm no aficionado) how important Brian Epstein was to the entire operation, both from a production and a musical point of view, and how on top his game Mr. Epstein was at the time of his tragic demise.

Somebody Worth Reading On Canadian Politics.


I first started paying attention to Evan Scrimshaw's writings during the run-up to the recent Ontario provincial election. 

I realize that I'm a little late to the party, but just in case you haven't yet stumbled on his work Scrimshaw also writes insightfully about national politics.

From his latest:
..The way Michelle Rempel Garner wrote about the CPC last week was stunning – it was all things you could infer from the outside, but to see a senior Canadian Conservative say the party was basically ungovernable was still fascinating, especially given she allegedly wants to stay in the party. But what it did was expose a truth that was self-evident. Between now and 2025, the Conservatives will have to vote on a handgun ban, some form of abortion access expansion bill, Pierre’s vaccine mandates for everything Private Member’s Bill, and probably more hot button cultural issues-based legislation. They will have to come out on either side of the child care deals, which Skippy is on every side of. They will have to take stances in the next three years.

If they vote for the abortion access bill and the handgun ban, they might have a chance in the suburbs but the PPC will get 12% of the vote. Vote against, and the suburbs continue to move left and you lose Niagara Falls and Carleton instead of putting Conestoga or Cambridge in play. Split yourself and try and play every side, you get hollowed out at both ends. This is what actually matters about the state of the 2025 campaign, not whether Skippy’s camping video went “viral”...


Scrimshaw is saying that it's the Suburbs v. Bernier in a cage match for the FedCon soul.

It's an interesting notion surely, but can we make book on it?

Time, and there's quite a bit of that between now and 2025, will tell.

Personally, I did not find Ms. Rempel Garner's missive compelling in the 'All Cons are Doomed Because they are in Disarray!' sense of the thing that so many pundits are pushing...Are there serious internal squabbles in both the FedCon and AlbertaCon parties?...Of course there are...So Ms. Rempel Garner has apparently decided to bow out of the AlbertaCon leadership race because of these squabbles despite the fact that, according to her, all the externals say she could win the next general election...Gosh, isn't putting down squabbles and silencing the voices of the mates that call you Captain Queeg behind your back while you set a single electoral course forward with all hands on deck the first real job of any new leader of a political party?
BTW...E. Scrimshaw's writings pop up quite regularly over there on the left sidebar.


Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Downward Spiral.

It's hard not to think, based on (many) recent events, that more Americans are more Christian than ever.

Tim Alberta, writing this month in The Atlantic, concludes that the numbers do not support that conclusion:
"...In 1975, more than two-thirds of Americans expressed “a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the church,” according to Gallup, and as of 1985, “organized religion was the most revered institution” in American life. Today, Gallup reports, just 37 percent of Americans have confidence in the Church. This downward spiral owes principally to two phenomena: the constant stench of scandal, with megachurches and prominent leaders imploding on what seems like a weekly basis; and the growing perception that Christians are embracing extremist views. One rarely needs to read to the bottom of a poll to learn that the religious group most opposed to vaccines, most convinced that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, most inclined to subscribe to QAnonconspiracy theories is white evangelicals..."

It's real food for thought that the views of a waning minority are controlling so many important aspects of American life at the moment.

It also leads to an important question...

Who benefits most?

I highly recommend Mr. Alberta's piece which is titled: "How Politics Poisoned The Church" in print...Interestingly, someone at the magazine decided to change that title a little bit online to "How Politics Poisoned The Evangelical Church" which is a pretty darned important distinction (and better reflects the conclusions of the piece).