Wednesday, February 23, 2022

What Does Vlad Get?


Please note: This was written and posted before the 'attack' began

There's a whole lot of pundit whisper breathing going on wondering 'why now?' when it comes to Mr. Putin's latest actions in the Donbas as opposed to, say, during the time of the previous American president.

Marcy Wheeler wastes no breath on this and instead puts pixels to paper in a really fantastic explanatory post over at Emptywheel. 

The following is just one of Ms. Wheeler's many kickers:
...Sure, Putin didn’t get Trump to carve up Ukraine as President. But he got so much more from Trump’s presidency.

Putin did get Trump to do real damage to NATO. He got Trump to largely abandon Syria. Trump made a humiliating deal with the Taliban that would result in the US withdrawing its military from Russia’s back door. After years of Russia having to work hard to highlight American hypocrisy on human rights, Trump did things like pardon war criminals, forever tainting America’s claim to be exceptional...

And then, of course, there is the matter of what Mr. Putin now receives from his media enablers that reach millions of malleable American medullas.

And we're not just talking about those that work for RT.

As an example, the following is from the 'official transcript' of Mr. T. Carlson's latest television program (I will not link to it):
Since the day that Donald Trump became president, Democrats in Washington have told you it's your patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin. It's not a suggestion. It's a mandate. Anything less than hatred for Putin is treason.

Many Americans have obeyed this directive. They now dutifully hate Vladimir Putin. Maybe you're one of them. Hating Putin has become the central purpose of America's foreign policy. It's the main thing that we talk about. Entire cable channels are now devoted to it. Very soon, that hatred of Vladimir Putin could bring the United States into a conflict in Eastern Europe...

The only good news, as Ms. Wheeler sees it, is that Mr. Biden has made all the right moves. 

At least so far.

Tangentially weird earworm from post title?...This.


Monday, February 21, 2022

What Norm Said...


Norman Farrell, writing in the comments at the bottom of his latest post titled 'Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition':
"I’ve spent the last dozen years arguing about government failures but I’m not about to support a self-appointed rabble that decides it is empowered to “negotiate” with elected officials about laws and public health requirements. I’ve watched these people spit upon and scream at news gatherers, assault nurses and others going to work in healthcare facilities, threaten children wearing masks attending schools, prevent people of downtown Ottawa from enjoying peace in their homes, stop businesses from doing business, etc.

If we give in to mob rule, voting and political dialogue will be replaced by coercion, violence and intimidation..."

Also worth reading today are Michael Harris, who says 'Don't call them protestors' and Andrew Nikiforuk who delves into the propaganda revving of the convoy's engines....Both of the latter pieces are in the Tyee.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

And Here I Thought That, Perhaps, Charlie Angus Once Took A Ride On The 'Sunshine Special'.


That was then...

"I was permanently barred from the (Ed) Muskie (Presidential) campaign after that incident on the "Sunshine Special" in Florida . . . And that scene makes far more sense now than it did at the time. Muskie has always taken pride in his ability to deal with hecklers; he has frequently challenged them, calling them up to the stage in front of big crowds and then forcing the poor bastards to debate with him in a blaze of TV lights.

But there was none of that in Florida. When the Boohoo began grabbing at his legs and screaming for more gin, Big Ed went all to pieces . . . which gave rise to speculation. among reporters familiar with his campaign style in '68 and '70, that Muskie was not himself. It was noted, among other things, that he had developed a tendency to roll his eyes wildly during TV interviews, that his thought patterns had become strangely fragmented, and that not even his closest advisors could predict when he might suddenly spiral off into babbling rages, or neocomatose funks."

This is now...

From Hansard, asking for a clarification from NDP MP Charlie Angus after he used the term 'boo hoo generation' in parliament:

Mr. Angus explains:

For those who are Hunter Thompson aficionados...Here's something that has been bugging me lately...It could be argued that the good Docktor helped, along with the efforts of super fine folks like little Donnie Segretti and Ken Clawson, take down the 'Man from Maine', Senator Ed Muskie, during the 1972 Democratic Presidential Primary Campaign...Which, for those of a certain progressive bent, was likely good news at the time given that this allowed George McGovern to win the nomination...The thing is, Mess'rs Haldeman, Erlichman and Nixon et al. also wanted McGovern to win (so that they could brand him the 'Acid, Amnesty and Abortion' candidate on the way to trouncing him)...So, does that explain why paleocon Pat Buchanan was so friendly with HST at the time?


Friday, February 18, 2022

But What About The Thin Blue Line?

What's that you say?

Regardless which side of the border the donations came from, it was actually all about the freedom to overturn public health measures (and a government) in an effort to put us on the path of the thin black line, above?


Alrighty then.


Meanwhile, from the edges of outer SeaDooLandia, a former federal public safety minister doubles down and speaks salad:


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Crawling Through The Bloggodome...And Other Digital Spaces Too.


Jen St. Denis has an important piece in the Tyee on the local activists who are trying to end the war on drugs...I found the following passage to be most chilling..."Drugs sold on the street today are so dangerous that users risk death every time they consume them."...And that, as St. Denis chronicles, means drugs used by absolutely anyone at all, including all of our sons and daughters who are just out being kids (and doing pretty much what their parents used to do) on a Saturday night...Regarding that, Bethany Lindsay of the CBC notes that it's not just (people we most often think of as) the addicted who are dying due to a contaminated street supply.

Norm Farrell writes about local academic Kyle Willmott's work tracking those who seem bent on conflating our colonial policies, past and present, with things like taxpayers' (alleged) rights...

Charlie Smith scares the bejeebuz out of us by giving good advice to the Snowmen running the Falcon.

Bob Kronbauer explains why he thinks that a local (no longer) terrestrial D.J. named Carson, who is really not a kid anymore, will make a play to become the Great White North's JRogan.

Ottawa the good...and the gooder (two tales of occupation-driven surges in donations to organizations that actually help people).

Those that have been stopping by here for awhile may remember our good friend the Reverend Paperboy...Well, in case you missed it, he's blogging (pretty darn regularly) again!

'Base Patrol To Major Ted'...Mitchell Thompson, writing in Jacobin, profiles the man who kick-started the new right movement in Canada. Of course, those still riding high atop the collective base that Mr. Byfield built think they can control it. 

Now that many among us are starting to fly again Jill Filipovic thinks it's time, with good reason, to ban the jerks from the cigar tube.

PZ Myers explains why you might not want to get too excited about the prospect of Mr. Musk's minions implanting a chip in your head.

Previous crawls are...Here.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

A Great Opportunity For Unity As The Loosening Begins.

Vaccines and the decreased virulence of the current viral variant have helped make it possible for our PHO to start the great loosening of restrictions.

Of course, there is still much to be done globally and there will likely be bumps and, perhaps, even temporary reversals along the way.

And there are still the very serious matters of the immunocompromised and long COVID to deal with.

However, as was mentioned last week, now is a time of great opportunity for our political leaders to unify us all.

Because we've gotten here due to the shared sacrifice of so many that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with conspiracy theories and/or misinformation spigots, diesel-fueled or otherwise.


For the record, I'm happy about what we're not removing for the moment, including proof of vaccination and indoor masking, until we see how things go and to help facilitate continued vaccination...


The Squamish Nation Shows Us How To Do The Right Thing


Personally, I found this statement, in the wake of events downtown Vancouver yesterday, to be just what is needed, both now and in the future, as we move forward dealing with all manner of difficult issues.

Here's hoping it makes headline news.


Your Evening Audio...Lullaby Songs.

It just feels like a good time for few lullaby songs given the state of the world we're currently moving through.

First up is a cover of Paul Simon's 'Lincoln Duncan'

Then it's a try at 'Ketchum, Idaho' from Boy Genius.

Finally, an obscure one from Daniel Johnston called 'Peek-A-Boo'

Somewhere in there is bit of a road theme as well, I reckon...

Image at the top of the post is the two E's at one of our favourite places on a road trip a few years ago...


Sunday, February 13, 2022

Spotify Continues To Stream Uncle Neil.



Soundtrack albums and crappy compilations that he does not control.

That's how.


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Community Organizing To Defeat Those In The Thrall Of The Alphabet's Seventeenth Letter.

When I was a kid growing up in southern Oak Bay I could pretty much see Sequim from my house*

Recently, the little town across the water from Victoria on Washington State's Olympic Penninsula was taken over by a small band of crazies and a Q Anon-addled mayor that were making all kinds of things worse, including skyrocketing COVID hospitalizations after the public health officer was professionally and personally attacked, not to mention an opioid epidemic that was running rampant while concerted efforts to improve treatment and harm reduction were stymied. 

However, as Sasha Abramsky reports in the Nation, the majority has prevailed and both the mayor and many of the crazies are gone. Things started get better almost immediately, including for public health officer Allison Berry:
...For Dr. Berry, as the tide turned against the vocal right-wingers who had held Sequim hostage through 2020 and 2021, her correspondence from residents shifted from a daily barrage of threats to something rather different. At some point last fall, a contingent of elderly people began writing letters to her and her public health colleagues expressing how much they appreciated the public health staff. Anonymous residents would swing by the office and leave bouquets of flowers. “A good thing happened: There was a counterresponse in the community,” Berry recalls with a smile. “It was incredibly heartening.”...

It's a good news for democracy story that required progressives and centrists, even those that leaned right, to get together and do a whole lot of grass roots organizing that resulted in multiple overwhelming election victories at the civic level.

Imagine that!

*Actually, to see Sequim, or at least it's outer edges, I would actually have to stroll on down to Blueberry Hill on a clear day and gaze out across the East-West Strait of the Salish Sea.
Unlike Sequim, it looks like reversing a take over by extremists in Shasta County in Northern California may be much more difficult to reverse given that both the grass and the roots are being steam-rolled by outside big money influencers/influenzaers... 
When C and I first moved to Northern California in our filled-to-bursting Mazda GLC, we spent some time exploring Shasta County and the town of Redding...It's really a beautiful area, filled with friendly people, including the guy who fixed our flickering alternator...One of the things that struck us most, and this is pretty politically ironic now, was how red the actual dirt is.


Thursday, February 10, 2022

Does The Vancouver Sun Have A Duty To Fully Inform Its Readership About A Serious Public Health Issue?


The following is the headline over today's Vancouver Sun COVID-19 wrap-up:

Under the headline, the story that more than half of double-dosed folks do not plan to 'rush' to get a third booster shot of the vaccine is based on a recent poll from Ipsos. Here is how the VSun reporter, Stephanie Ip, describes it:

A new Ipsos poll found that 56 per cent of B.C. respondents with both their first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine don’t plan to get their booster immediately.

The remainder say they are undecided or have chosen not to receive a booster at all...

While Ms. Ip's piece does include a quote from the president of the BC Pharmacy Association about how double dose protection wanes six months after immunization nowhere does it include, or even describe, widely available data like the following:

Or, perhaps even more to the point, data like the following:

Now, it is entirely possible that Ms. Ip's original draft may have included a description of data such as those shown above.

Regardless, however, one has to wonder why her (presumably) editor or editors would choose to run with the 'people are over it'  theme for both the headline and the story without clearly and fully informing those same people, a number of whom are presumably their readers, that folks who choose to not get the booster in a timely manner are putting themselves in harm's way - particularly those folks that have any comorbidities.

Why am I fussing about this kind of thing?

Because I could imagine that some folks who are on the fence who read stories like this like just might just ask themselves the following: 'If most people aren't bothering, why should I?'  They might also decide that those super smart folks who discuss vaccines with, say, that nice Mr. Rogan just might have a point.


Another reason
this (really) matters?....This.


Monday, February 07, 2022

Despite The Recent Cacophony, Canada Is Not A Country Full Of 'Covid Jerks'.


A philosopher from Southern California named Eric Schwitzgebel recently wrote a piece in the Atlantic that is provocatively titled 'The Covid Jerk'.

 Here is his lede:
We all know the type. First appearing in the spring of 2020, the COVID jerk strutted unmasked through the supermarket, exhaling clouds of risk on worried shoppers and employees, and daring low-paid workers to try to enforce the new policies. Flaunting their disdain for scientific consensus, they stepped close behind you in line, breathing on your shoulder, complaining about maximum-occupancy requirements...

The rest of the piece is much more thoughtful and nuanced and is very much worth reading in its entirety.

Regardless, given recent events up here in Canada it would be easy to think that the entire country is filled to bursting with such people.

It turns out, as the 'Covid 19 Monitor' project from McMaster University has demonstrated with longterm polling throughout the pandemic, this is most definitely not the case, including the citizenry's feelings about vaccine mandates:

The thing is...

Given how well vaccination is working to decrease the risk of serious illness coupled with the advances in treatment and the decreased virulence of the current viral variant, it would appear that the time is coming where we're going to have to all get along as we start to interact more and more as things start to (hopefully) gradually loosen up in the coming weeks and months.

Thus, it seems to me that the need for collective tolerance, rather than dunking and/or owning the other side, is something that our civic leaders might want to start talking seriously about sooner rather than later.

Please don't misunderstand me...I'm not advocating that we stop putting bullies and jerks in their place when required...I'm just suggesting that everyone needs to think about what really matters so that they don't become a bully and/or jerk themselves as we start to engage in collective behaviours and events once more.


Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Real World Data...The Consequences Of America's Vaccine Lag.

How successful has the anti-vaccine propaganda machine been in the United States?

Well, despite the fact that fully boosted folks are 90%, plus, protected against hospitalization and 99% protected from death, the prop machine doing a fine job of suppressing booster uptake while it helps haul the cumulative Omicron death rate up a very steep slope...


Tuesday, February 01, 2022

The Comorbidity Consideration.


As we noted recently, folks with pre-existing conditions (or comorbidities) clearly benefit significantly from full vaccination against the SARS-Cov-2 virus, both in terms of the fold decrease in hospitalizations but also in terms of reducing the increased risk of being hospitalized in absolute percentage terms:

And what are those comorbidities that contribute to the increased risk of severe disease, exactly?

Well here's the list, independent of age, according to Health Canada;


With that in mind, are there any professions where such comorbidities are particularly prevalent?

Probably not professional football players, especially those of either the quarterback and/or the wide receiver variety.

But what what about long haul truckers?

Well, it turns out that public health groups like, say, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S. like to keep track of such things:
...Obesity (69% vs. 31%, P < 0.01) and current smoking (51% vs. 19%, P < 0.01) were twice as prevalent in long-haul truck drivers as in the 2010 U.S. adult working population. Sixty-one percent reported having two or more of the risk factors: hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, no physical activity, 6 or fewer hours of sleep per 24-hr period...


With numbers like that it sure is good to hear that 90% of Canada's cross-border truckers are already vaccinated, both for the sake of their health and their ability to freely move goods across the 49th parallel*.

*When, of course, they not being prevented from doing so by a group of very fine folks that apparently doesn't care that much about either the health or the livelihoods of those other folks who are actually trying to do the actual job of trucking things across the border.
And as for the sub-set of (presumably the same) very fine folks who are buoyed by the tweeting of the good Mr. Elon Musk?...They do understand that  Mr. Musk has big plans to end their careers for good, right?