Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Last Song For The Last Night Of The Year.


Sure, I remember the original version by the late, great Merle Haggard.

But it was littler e. that brought this tune back to me recently, by way of a Phoebe Bridgers cover.

While the theme of 'If We Make It Through December' might seem to be about Christmas, the holiday really just forms the background of a sharper, more hardened picture.

So, in a weird kind of way the song could be considered something of a musical yang to the cinematic ying that is Diehard.

Or some such thing.

Anyway, here's my lullaby version that might be appropriate for the quiet time after the New Year's Eve 'after, after, after, after, it's getting-so-late-I've-gotta-take-my-kid to-soccer-practice, party Liz Lemon!'...


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Blessed Be The Pushers Of Plows And The Unpluggers Of Drains.


Truth be told, I normally don't drive all that much as I live close enough to where I work that I can usually ride my bike to and from most days.

But all that changes during the holiday season, what with all the visiting, etcetera.

This holiday season, of course, driving wasn't easy in greater Lotusland, at least at the front end due to the weather.

But all that has pretty much passed now after a few days of warmer temperatures and a whole lot of rain.


This morning, as the Whackadoodle II and I were driving down to our favourite South Vancouver Island beachwalk, we were tuned in to the local talk(ish) radio station and the host was doing his best to whip up a little inter-municipal fervour over who did a good job of plowing their streets and who didn't.

As you might expect this particular host blamed one particular municipality's apparent snow removal shortcoming on wokeness, or some such thing.

All of which reminded me of the old days of the Snowmaggedon grandstanding from the Spam-A-Lot-In-A-War-Chest-Funded-Interweb-Can which, as might be expected given the corpMedia's penchant for professional forgettery, was brought back to life earlier this winter with the help of at least one now 'elected' former Spam-A-Lot-eer:

Two Metro Vancouver municipal politicians are calling for a so-called "snow summit" to try to prevent a repeat of the chaos that unfolded Tuesday where routine commutes became hours-long ordeals.

Surrey councillor Linnda Annis and New Westminister councillor Daniel Fontaine are calling for municipal leaders, the provincial government, transit operators and road contractors to come together to create a region-wide plan...

But here's the thing.

I drove through many a municipality, both on the Lower Mainland and on the South Isle, in the days both before and after Christmas and I was pleasantly surprised to see just how well they all did at keeping the great majority of their major, and a good many of their minor, routes passable through one of the biggest snowfalls in recent memory.

Now, I realize that there are probably all kinds of examples where things did not go so smoothly, especially when the white stuff was falling fastest and/or when the drains were at their most overflowing, but, still, it seems to me that all those folks out there sanding and plowing and drain clearing did a pretty darned good job at a time of year when most of them would usually be taking a little time off like most of the rest of us.



Saturday, December 24, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 24...Run, Run Rudolph.


Whole lotta fog in Lotusland tonight.


It seems to me that Santa could use Rudolph's and/or Keef's red nose out there tonight.


Run Run Rudolph is another Christmas song composed by the unstoppable Johnny Marks.

Below is the advent jukebox version...

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone!


Lord Haw-Haw Revisted...


Moscow calling, Moscow calling...

That is all.


Friday, December 23, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 23....Fairytale of New York.


Neither MacGowan nor MacColl, but the advent jukebox version is pretty good nonetheless...


The Advent Jukebox, Day 22....Baby Please Don't Go.


This one's a little late because...

Last night we decided to hightail it the island along with half of the rest of the lower mainland in an effort to beat the coming weather disasterplex.

And then, when we arrived, safe and sound, we next decided it would be best to head back out into the gathering storm to get all the groceries for the duration. This resulted in a last mad dash to the nearby Thrifty's a half hour before closing.

When we finally got to the front of the store with our over-stuffed cart a few minutes after closing there was only one till open so I, like the doofus that I am, decided we could probably do things faster at the self-checkout.


The disaster at the checkout may have actually been worse than the entire weatherplex so far (which doesn't look so bad, at least not yet, from the vantage point of Friday morning on the southwestern most tip of Vancouver Island) given how many times we had to wait to get help because something had been moved off the scale too soon or because I had plugged in the wrong produce code, again.

In the end, after we had already paid, C. discovered that we had missed a clove of garlic. By that time the very nice lady who had been pretty much forced to stand-by and help us the entire time so much wanted to get us out the door that she just tossed the garlic in one of the bags (which likely just evened out me keying in the code for 'organic' mushrooms when they weren't - organic I mean).

Anyway, below is a really nice advent jukebox rendition of 'Baby Please Don't Go' with Bigger E on lead vocal (gosh, maybe I should be paying her and appearance fee given how much she has turned up in this series)... 


Image at the top of the post is littler e. riding into a blizzard of a very different kind a few blocks from our house and a little more than a few years ago.


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Some Things They'll Do For Money.


WUSA, a film released in 1970 that was based Robert Stone's first book 'Hall of Mirrors', is the story of how easily a grifter can shape-shift into a propagandist for money, influence and power.

It was as insightful then as it is today.

The following is from the real life story of the Dominion Voting Machines' defamation suit against FOX News published yesterday by Jeremy Peters in the NY Times:

At the center of this imagined plot (to steal the 2020 presidential election) were machines from Dominion Voting Systems, which (Trump election fraud trumpeter) Ms. (Sydney) Powell claimed ran an algorithm that switched votes for Mr. Trump to votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr. Dominion machines, she insisted, were being used “to trash large batches of votes.” 

Mr. (Sean) Hannity interrupted her (while interviewing her on FOX) with a gentle question that had been circulating among election deniers, despite a lack of supporting proof: Why were Democrats silencing whistle blowers who could prove this fraud?
Did Mr. Hannity believe any of this?

 “I did not believe it for one second."

That was the answer Mr. Hannity gave, under oath, in a deposition in Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, according to information disclosed in a court hearing on Wednesday. The hearing was called to address several issues that need to be resolved before the case heads for a jury trial, which the judge has scheduled to begin in April...


Ear worm in the header for the Darnielle heads amongst us, including Mr. Willcocks?....This!


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Advent Jukebox, Day 21...I'll Be Home For Christmas.


As a child of the 60's who spent many an hour turning his bedroom closet into the capsule of the Apollo command and space module, I dig this anecdote about today's tune from the US'ian Library of Congress:

...In December 1965, having completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program, the astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell hurtled back to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft. Asked by NASA communication personnel if they wanted any particular music piped up to them, the crew requested Bing Crosby's recording of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."...


This year we will be heading to our home away from home (a.k.a Grandpops house) by way of a late afternoon ferry on Christmas eve eve.

Will we get there before the flood rains begin in earnest that will then soon turn everything to a mucky, mushy mess sure to stop traffic everywhere on the South Island?

Stay tuned!


I've Got Mail.


While it is definitely a form of trolling, this time out I'm not talking about the messages and comments I still regularly receive from a small covey of the unhinged about how a certain director of one of the national health institutes down south is actually the monozygotic twin of the 80's TV show character Alf who is bent on loading up RNA nanoparticles with fluoride-coated NFT's that will allow him and his to both drain your bank account and inflict massive bouts of myocarditis that can only be cured by even more massive doses of supplements currently being hawked by the griftiest of online purveyors of both hate and disinformation.

Instead, today I'm talking about a small segment of the flotsam and jetsam that regularly flows into my work email box.

Most often this stuff is from predatory journals trying to coax me into joining their microencephalitic editorial boards and/or from dubious meetings in Dubai that want me to fly in to be an esteemed speaker on something I know absolutely nothing about like, say, andropause.

But yesterday's email was a new one entirely:

Apparently, the very fine fellow who sent the Email, above, is also a 'key account manager'  from a South American biomaterials vendor I have never heard of. And, also apparently, he is miffed because I've been ignoring his cold calls.

Truth be told, coffee came shooting out of my nose when I first read the bit in point #2 about how I'm 'not interested in innnovating' because I won't buy his product.



Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Advent Jukebox, Day 20...Bigger E At The Quay.


From a couple of holiday seasons ago.

It's Bigger E. doing her thing at Lonsdale Quay.

Below is the audio only advent jukebox edition...


Here's Hoping Our New Mayor Is Not A Man Who Knows The Price Everything And The Value Of Nothing.


I first learned of the turn of phrase embedded in the header to this post from our old friend Rafe Mair, not from the fellow that actually came up with it, Oscar Wilde.


It would appear that Marsha Lederman, writing in the opinion pages of the Globe and (No Longer Empire) Mail recently, is on to our new mayor when it comes to price v. value:

...Vancouver’s new mayor, Ken Sim, who is preparing his first city budget, recently mused about getting the Vancouver Public Library to step up and bring in more revenue. If each branch raised even about $500 a month, he calculated, that would bring in $100,000 a year for the city. (Although the mayor had the number of branches wrong; he thought there were 17, but there are 21.)

Mr. Sim did not explicitly suggest charging for basic services such as borrowing books. Anyway, the Library Act forbids that...

The thing is, as Ms. Lederman explains in her piece, the VPL is doing more than it ever has with a budget that has resulted in chronic underfunding.


Before Mr. Sims goes bonkers and blows the budget on a battalion of ultra-modern snow removal machines and/or barrels bursting to overflowing with toys for his favourite web lackey, here's hoping he first comes to understand that providing a little extra in his budget for our public library system will only serve to increase it's already excellent value.

An excellent value that, I feel compelled to mention, is now (and must forever) remain freely available to all.


Back in the days when  Mr. Mair used to stop by this little F-troop listed blog he would often leave a pithy comment or two on the topic at hand...Once, though, he blasted me for using an italicized Courier font for the pull quotes because they were hard on his eyes...I didn't back down, exactly, but I did start bolding them...Man, I sure do miss that old curmudgeon.


Monday, December 19, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 19...Winter Wonderland.


It was hard not to get a little giddy playing with the Whackadoodle II when the snow started while we were out for our beach walk yesterday morning.

Tonight she went bonkers as the white stuff really started to blanket Lotusland...


The Turning Of The Screwed.


The following is from an insightful piece by Frank Graves and Stephen Maher in the Walrus on the start(r)gy of the good Mr. Poilievre that is clearly based on ginning up all the fears of the disinformed:

...In the packed rallies he held across Canada (in the run-up to the CPC leadership vote), Poilievre seemed to tap directly into fears that the country was under attack from what he called “vaccine vendettas.” As close watchers of Canadian politics for over thirty years—one of us the founder and president of Ottawa-based pollsters Ekos Research Associates and the other a long-time reporter—we had never quite seen a campaign so successfully deploy such extreme narratives to its advantage. It seemed like a new turn in our political history...


Who, and or what, will Mr. Poilievre and his handlers, who include the likes of the longtime scorched-earth purveying con-op Jenni Byrne, vilify next in an effort to burnish their authoritarian-adjacent brand?


The Bank of Canada? 




The CBC?

The CRA?


National, Provincial and/or Local Public Health authorities?

My money is on all of the above, and more.

Why am I of the opinion that it is the screwed who are being turned and wound ever tighter by the likes of Mr. Poilievre and Co.?...Because, as Mr. Graves' polling has determined (and as is made clear in the Walrus piece), these folks truly are disinformed. They also distrust government to do anything useful whatsoever and they are often economically disadvantaged...In other words, these are the very folks that will, overall, be most negatively affected if far right authoritarian-adjacent operations like the one being fronted by Mr. Poilievre gain power.
Update: A reader offline has pointed out that Mr. P. and Co. will likely also soon vilify that bastion wokeness, the CD Howe Institute given their recent policy paper about how Covid vaccines saved Canada billions, with a 'B'.


Sunday, December 18, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 18...The Little Drummer Boy


Believe it or not, the video, above, was recorded the year punk broke...

One of the most successful duets in Christmas music history -- and surely the weirdest -- might never have happened if it weren't for some last-minute musical surgery. David Bowie thought "The Little Drummer Boy" was all wrong for him. So when the producers of Bing Crosby's Christmas TV special asked Bowie to sing it in 1977, he refused. 

Just hours before he was supposed to go before the cameras, though, a team of composers and writers frantically retooled the song. They added another melody and new lyrics as a counterpoint to all those pah-rumpa-pum-pums and called it "Peace on Earth." Bowie liked it. More important, Bowie sang it...

The Advent Jukebox version is pretty much a straight-up lullaby...

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly do a weirdly creepy, almost note-for-note and beat-for-beat, take of Bowie and Crosby's version...Here.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 17...White Christmas.


Yesterday it was the Blue...

Today it's the White (and, make no mistake, the white stuff is coming to Lotusland)...

According to Irving Berlin's daughter White Christmas is both a secular tune and an immigrant song:

..."It's very evocative: the snow, the Christmas card, the sleigh, the sleigh bells," she says. "It's very evocative, and it's entirely secular." 

Christmas was not exactly a holiday that Irving Berlin grew up celebrating. He was born in Russia, the son of a cantor, and his first language was Yiddish. 

(Linda) Emmet says that her father's experience as an immigrant in America led him to conclude that Christmas was not as much a religious holiday as a cultural one. 

"As a Russian Jewish immigrant, when he came to the United States, Christmas was an American holiday to him," she says. "It was like every American holiday. It was a fresh, new experience for him."....

Here's the Advent Jukebox version...


Friday, December 16, 2022

Advent Jukebox, Day 16...Blue Christmas.

Blue Christmas, written by Billy Hayes and Jay Johnston, was first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948, nine years before the King did it.

We first recorded it, with video and everything, in the arrivals area of YVR in 2011.*

Below is the advent jukebox version...

Thanks to Danneau
for bringing the video version back to the top of mind in the comments earlier in the jukebox...'Twas a very happy moment in holiday time.




And, no, I'm not talking about that now defunct band of thrash metal grandpas.

Instead, I'm talking about something the great British biologist Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote, in the pages of Nature way back in 1870:

"The great tragedy of science...the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."

Of course, particularly on the dispassionate level of the work itself, a slaying such as this is just as it should be given that it forces you to revise your hypothesis, or even come up with a brand new one, so that you can move forward with the next set of experiments.

But on the personal level, especially for young trainees, an hypothesis slain can be difficult to deal with.


Our most recent experience with hypothesis slaying came yesterday afternoon, just before our pre-holiday get together was about to start.

This is always a big time of year for students as they rush to finish their last set of experiments before they head home, go on trips and/or gather with friends for a bit of a break.

Plus, this year was the first time we have all gotten together, live, for a party since December of 2019.

So, as you can imagine, I was a little giddy, what with the rush to put up the decorations, get the music hooked up, and put out the food, when this really sharp young trainee who has worked really hard over the last year to generate a complex data set that led her to formulate a truly beautiful, and completely novel, hypothesis, arrived. Her eyes were open wide but, unfortunately, not with joy.

As you have probably already guessed, the trainee's latest results contained a very ugly fact.

Which led to a whole lot of commiserating as other folks nearby heard the news.

Of course, we will figure out how to regroup and move forward.

But it's not going to be an easy road for that young trainee, at least in the short term, given that she was all ready to send out her paper early in the New Year.

I guess I'm trying to say that it can be a tough road in discovery-based science because, while the highs are really fantastic, there are a whole lot of low, sometimes deep valleys.

Put another way, even making small dents in the universe can be really, really hard.

The great thing about the latest result
is that it looks like there might be an off-ramp based on the knockout phenotype...We're going to talk about that early next week once the trainee has all the data together.


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Advent Jukebox, Day 15...Hey Guys! It's Christmastime.

I learned about this little tune thanks to the work of one of those first wave ukulele do-it-yourself online kids, Molly Lewis, back during YouTube's first non-monetized incarnation.

The song was actually penned by the allegedly peripatetic 50 state mission man, Sufjan Stevens.

This is our version with Bigger E taking the lead. I still really, really like it. A bit goose bumpy actually, for me at least...


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Advent Jukebox, Day 14...Santa Claus Is Comin'


We're having our gradual student holiday get together tomorrow afternoon.

Will I put on the Coca Cola suit and the fake beard?*


Will I play this song, maybe even with some improvised lyrics including something like 'He knows when you are cloning"?


Will I try to modify it be a wee bit like the Bruce version?

Not so sure about that.

Anyway, here's the Advent Jukebox version...

*No need
whatsoever for fake white hair under the red hat though...


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Advent Jukebox, Day 13...Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree.

For a guy that didn't celebrate Christmas, Johnny Marks sure was prolific when it came to penning the holiday songs, including this one.

'Rockin' Around' was first recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958 and, while it is unlikely that this is the forgotten song that those Dutch boys mentioned in 'Radar Love' fifteen years later, that voice of hers certainly was, as per usual, coming on strong.

Anyway, from the vaults, here's our version of Mr. Marks' tune...


Monday, December 12, 2022

Advent Jukebox, Day 12...The Mating Of The Doves.


Is this a holiday tune?

Perhaps not.

However, the following is the broadest definition of 'advent':

"The arrival of a notable person or thing"

Which, to my way of thinking at least, pretty much fits the arrival of Mr. Felice and his tune to a 'T'.

Here's the advent jukebox version...

Image at the top of the post?...
A younger version of the two E.'s galloping down one of Oregon's rolling sand dune hills at Honeyman State Park on the central coast of that fine state.


People Will Die.


Here is just the lede and the final paragraph from an excellent post on safe consumption, and the man who would end it, by Jody Paterson:

If Pierre Poilievre was just some random dude with a Twitter account and an uninformed opinion, we could just leave him to it and shrug off his ridiculous view that providing safe consumption sites and non-poisoned drugs for people "will only lead to their ultimate deaths."... 


...Many more people will die because the tweet of a man given status as a future political leader will dampen political and public enthusiasm even more for taking action on what is surely one of the most outrageous, preventable tragedies of our times. It doesn't get more hateful than that.

Ms. Paterson lays out the evidence, which is clear and unequivocal, for her final paragraph the middle of her post which I strongly suggest you go and read in its entirety.

Jody also asks why the corpMedia deals with this stuff in a way that only serves to elevate the foolish and dangerous (not to mention politically expedient) utterances of the good Mr. Poilievre:

...Why do the media allow him to "reignite the debate around safe supply," as the Global TV story puts it, by giving his tweet public profile as if he was actually saying something of substance?

Granted, the media did find people to refute Poilievre as they covered the "story" of his disparaging tweet. But the damage is done when you give the guy the top third of a story to spout his harmful nonsense....

Why do the fine folks running our corpMedia?

Because they are doing their best to play the balanced 'he said/she said game'.

But what if they decided that they wouldn't allow opportunists like Mr. Poilievre exploit their penchance for fairness and balance and instead dealt first with the indisputable facts so that they could lead with the demonstrable truth, which in this specific case would be:

"People Will Die If Canada Adopts Pierre Poilievre's Call For An End To Safe Consumption Sites And The Curtailment Of Safe Supply."

That is all.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 11...The Christmas Waltz.

Just like The Christmas Song ("chestnuts roasting..."), The Christmas Waltz ("frosted windowpanes...") was written during a mid-summer hot spell.

However, unlike Mel Torme and Bob Wells writing the former of their own accord out by the pool, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne were ordered to write the latter by the mob....errrr...Chairman of the Board who wanted a B-side track to pair with his rendition of Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

Starting in 1954, Mr. Sinatra himself recorded The Christmas Waltz three times and many covers followed.

One of the worst versions was recorded by Kathy Lee Gifford in 1993. A few years later Ms. Gifford hosted a holiday special that was so awful (see above) that Washington Post critic Tom Shales started a review with the following lede:

Kathie Lee Gifford sings songs like she's mad at them. What did they ever do to her? Maybe she was frightened by a song as a child. And by Christmas, too, because each year on television she wreaks a bit more revenge...

Anyway, our jukebox cover, featuring the vocal stylings of Bigger E., probably has more in common with the She and Him version than either the original or that which was belted out by the inimitable Kathy Lee...


For My Dad And My Brothers, Eh.


After I heard Dave Thomas on a really fantastic T.O. Mike podcast awhile back I poked around a little in the Tubes.

And the video above, which is a detailed history of SCTV, made entirely by a fan using all manner of archived clips and interviews (including a bunch hosted by Brian Linehan!), was gifted to me by my frenemy, the algorithm, a few weeks later.

It is really fantastic, starting even before the Edmonton days, including the story of how the Godspell cast came together and how Second City first set up its branch plant in Toronto.

Joe Flaherty comes across as the anchor, and the cast member who most wanted it to go on forever.

I remember burning a whole lotta post-midnight oil with the Betamax to get all that SCTV footage down...Wonder if there are still tapes somewhere in the Aldeane St. basement?
No offence meant to Mo Amir whatsoever, who I think has done a great job of taking his DIY thing mainstream, but I sure do wish some amateur obsessive would mount a Lotuslandian version of Toronto Mike's thing...What I really, really like about the latter is that he goes deep, really deep, on just about any and everything Southern Ontario by getting all manner of people to tell their complete histories...Me, I would go just as bonkers for a two hour pod on mid-70's CJOR as I would for three hours on the birth of Quintessence Records...


Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 10...River.


From a fantastic story by a guy named Will Blythe, who grew up in Chapel Hill North Carolina. Blythe's parents were friends with the parents of James Taylor.


...The gathering took place on a bristly cold December night for Chapel Hill (in 1970. The evening started with a group of carolers, including James and his girlfriend of the moment—yes, it was Joni Mitchell—lighting out from the Taylors’ and rambling through the neighborhood from house to house. Ike went along, too, his voice resonant and booming. It would have been just like my parents to join in such a sing-along...


...When everyone finished caroling, they went back to the Taylors’, gathering upstairs around the fire in the open living room. Nearby stood a Christmas tree that Ike and James had gone into the woods and cut down. Decades later, (a young woman who was there) Isabelle Patterson would tell (Taylor family friend) David (Perlmutt, who was also there) that whenever she hears Joni Mitchell’s song “River” (“It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees”), she’s convinced that the song was inspired by that visit...

Here's the jukebox version of Ms. Mitchell's classic...

Image at the top of the post?...The original K Family Singers...Sure hope I wasn't too much like Papa Joe Jackson, at least not the bad parts...Heard Rae Dong Chong on a recent edition of Toronto Mike's podcast who mentioned that, when she was a kid, she was once at a family get together with the original Jackson family singers (Tommy Chong is her Dad)...Somewhere along the line she tried to get young Michael to come outside and play...She was informed by one of the older brothers (she couldn't remember which one) that they didn't 'play'...Oh boy.


Friday, December 09, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 9....Christmas Must Be Tonight.

Unlike a number of other songs by the Band, there was never much doubt that Robbie Robertson really did write this one himself.

And while Robertson did his best to resurrect the song a few years after he triggered the groups's destruction by re-recording and dlanoisifying it for the soundtrack of the Michael O'Donoghue and Mitch Glazer - penned cinematic re-write of Charles' Dickens 'A Christmas Carol', for me it will always Rick Danko's tune vocally. Even when he does it at a runaway gallop (see above).

Below is my attempt at mimicking the late, great Mr. Danko's high lonesome warble...

For the record, I slipped the reference to Mr. Mike into this one just to get a rise out of my Dad, because, well...This. 


Moderators? We Don't Need No Stinking Moderators!


That was then (i.e. mid-November):

New Twitter owner Elon Musk is further reducing the number of workers who battle misinformation on the social media platform, with moderators who work on contract for the company learning over the weekend that they were out of a job...
Ads for more than three dozen brands including major corporations appeared on the Twitter pages of white nationalist accounts in recent days after Twitter owner Elon Musk restored hordes of banned users to the social media platform.

Promoted tweets from Amazon, Snap, Uber and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others, appeared inadvertently on the pages of at least two white nationalists, {names removed by me}, both of whom said their accounts had been banned but were restored recently after Musk took control of Twitter in late October.

In a vast cost-cutting campaign, Musk fired hundreds of Twitter of employees, including entire teams devoted to content moderation of the site, including ensuring ads not appear on content brands would find objectionable...


On second thought, perhaps I should have titled this post 'Revenue? We Don't Need No Stinking Revenue!'

Rayne, one of the moderators, and an occasional poster, over at Emptywheel has a very insightful longform version of the story up...Here.


Thursday, December 08, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 8...Making Plans


This tune, written by a guy named Johnny Russell, has been recorded by many a fine voice, including those of the trio of Harris, Ronstadt and Parton.

This time, though, you get to hear it being done by Bigger E...


Wednesday, December 07, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 7...The Christmas Song.


Chestnuts roasting on a frigid December day?

Actually, no.

A young Mel Torme and his song writing partner Bob Wells actually came up with the tune in the blast furnace of a mid-summer heatwave.

And then, when they couldn't sell it to publishers, they offered it to their friend Nat King Cole.

Here's the advent jukebox version...


One More Reason That The Usual Suspects Are...

...Furiously Cranking Up The Trump-Off Machine.

There are buckets of elation sloshing around the US'ian Democratic Party machine today what with yesterday's Senate majority-generating win by Rafael Warnock down in Georgia.

But here's the thing...

It was close.

And if not for the fact that Mr. Trump's handpicked candidate was pretty much the worst possible challenger to Rev. Warnock?

Well,  PZ Myers points out it could easily have gone the other way:

...I’m glad Warnock won, but look at the numbers: 48.6% of Georgians voted for the blithering idiot, it’s no wonder he had to beg for help. Imagine if the Republicans had nominated a marginally competent candidate, or if the Republican governor of the state had actively tried to promote their party’s candidate — we’d be in trouble. I don’t see much cause to celebrate squeaking by in a race that should have been a cakewalk...

We talked a wee bit about the sounds the Trump-Off Machine coming to life recently here...However, if you want to really keep up with all of those machinations (and their historical reverberations) by reading words of wit, style and elan, I suggest following Driftglass...


Tuesday, December 06, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 6...Christmas Time In The Mountains.


A fine little tune by Will Oldham that has been covered by, to swipe a line from Dan Mangan, all kinds of indie queens and tattied Eastside punks.

I am neither of those...


The Holiday Gardener.

I was once lucky enough to sit down at a table for lunch at a conference with a group of fellow science geeks that included a brilliant guy named Roger.

It was December and the conversation invariably turned to people's plans for the upcoming holidays. Roger, who was already quite senior at the time, said that he was planning to go into the lab to do mini-experiments. He went on to explain that he liked to do this because it was the only time of the year when the phone calls and Emails stopped long enough for him to actually get something done. Then, in the first week of January, folks from his group would return to work to find little presents, in the form of small packets of data, that would allow them to start new projects if they so wished.


This morning we had a group meeting and at the end we started talking about things that need to be done over the holidays when folks aren't around as regularly as usual. 

The smartest person in the group has a ton of things running. As such, she has some cell cultures on the go that won't be ready to freeze down before she leaves next week for an overseas excursion to see grandparents with her young family, a make-up for a trip that was cancelled at the last minute last December due to Omicron.


Unlike the brilliant fellow mentioned above, I will be going into the lab this holiday season not to do new experiments but instead to do a little gardening, which is what we call routine cell culture.

It's something I'm still good at.*

And it's something I actually enjoy doing.

Especially when no one else is around and I can crank up the music, Christmas carols or otherwise, to eleven.

*Whenever I do get away from the phone calls and the emails and the zoom meetings and the piazza messages long enough to venture into the lab to do something new and experimental the young kids all run away as fast as they can because they know I will soon start moaning about how I can't find a particular pipette on a specific shelf above a certain centrifuge where I left it two years ago...
Image at the top of the post...A still from a movie of a migrating cell in culture where the adhesion molecules that make its movement possible have been tagged with a protein that fluoresces green...The fellow mentioned in the post helped develop these fluorescent proteins...They allow us to see what is happening within cells in real time...It is an approach that revolutionized cell biology...Previously, the activity and localization of specific molecules could only be observed statically with fixed cells stained, for example, with antibodies...This movie was made by another super smart young person who once was part of my group and used to bring me data presents all the time, not just after holidays...He now has his own lab located in the Centre of the Canuckistanmikitaian Universe.


Monday, December 05, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 5...Star, Star.


It's an old Frames saw, with a wee bit of the Twinkle thrown in at the end...


Circulation Nation...


C. needs the car today and it is still too icy to ride my bicycle.


I bit the bullet and rode the bus in to work this morning.

It's been a few weeks since I used public transit given that, for the most part, the weather has cooperated  this fall (and my new rain gear is great - thanks Pops!).

Thus, I was not prepared the almost complete lack of masking.

I can understand it from the hardened construction workers on the way to the Condo Corridor on Cambie who have been dealing with this thing since the beginning.

But as for those young kids going to a certain professional-type school that I spend some of my time teaching in?

That I don't get at all.


Sunday, December 04, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 4...Vincent.

Vincent Van Gogh painted 'Starry Night', above, based on what he saw when he looked out his monastery/asylum window on an early June night in 1889.

And Don McLean wrote the song 'Vincent' that starts with the lyric 'Starry, starry night...' in the autumn of 1970.

As such, neither the painting nor the song really have anything to do with the solstice or christmas or any of the other winter holidays.

But the night sky is clear here this evening and the stars are out.

Which means that it's going to be cold in Lotusland.

Which also means that I sure do hope that the very organized lady I saw in the coffee shop early this morning, who had what appeared be most, if not all, of her earthly possessions neatly stowed away in a backpack and four shopping bags, is doing OK tonight...

The album of Mr. McLean's that has this tune and that song about the book of love takes me immediately back to grade seven and a school playground ringed by redbrick walls...Music is like that, no?


Saturday, December 03, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 3...The Parting Glass


Surprisingly, or perhaps not, this tune is not on The Clancy Brothers Christmas album.

I'm including it in the Advent Jukebox because it's all about visiting, either for real or in your mind's eye, and the leaving that, in the end, always follows...



Sometimes A Punking Is Just A Punking...


Sometimes a punking is just a punking.

And sometimes it is much, much more.

Or, at the very least, can be exploited as such.


Few griftxtremists flood the zone with more crap than Milo Yiannopoulis.

Thankfully, of late, Yiannopoulis seemed to be swimming deep beneath the surface of his own brown sludge-filled pool where he could neither be seen nor heard.

But then, unfortunately, last week the griftxtremist broke the surface braying in the wake of a Florida man's dinner with racists.

And, of course, the media took notice:

...Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart editor who was banned from Twitter in 2016 for inciting a racist campaign against the comedian Leslie Jones, told NBC News that he was “the architect” of the plan to have Fuentes travel with Ye in the hopes of slipping him into the dinner with Trump. The intent, according to Yiannopoulos, was for Fuentes to give Trump an unvarnished view of how a portion of his base views his candidacy...


....(Yiannopoulos) told NBC he also arranged the meeting “just to make Trump’s life miserable”, because he was aware news of the dinner would leak...

It is not entirely clear if the griftxtremist actually had anything to do with anything, although he has, at least for the moment, attached himself like a leach to the racist formerly known as Mr. West

However, it is clear that the press is playing the punking as an embarrassment for the Florida man, writ large.

And that same press gang is also feverishly cataloguing the few US'ian Republican party functionaries who have taken baby steps towards condemning Mr. Trump.

But here's what I'm wondering...

Will all those operatives who pretended to leave Republican party, some of whom have milked the system to launch their own 'pro-democracy' media empire, now work hand-in-glove with their PAC men and their buddies still burrowed deep within the party machinery to crank-up the Trump-Off machine in earnest?

And if they do, what will they call their new and improved, fully cleansed and stain-free 'movement'?

After all, 'The Tea Party' is already taken.


Friday, December 02, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 2....A Christmas Card From Minneapolis.

He, or at least is persona, is still out there.

Getting weirder and more Bukowskian all the time.

See, for example, the snippet from Paul Thomas Anderson's latest movie, above.

Here is what the good Mr. Waits had to say about this advent tune quite a few years ago now:

"I was in Minneapolis – it was 200 degrees below zero,” he told a disbelieving New York crowd. “I know, you think I’m bullshitting, no, I swear to God, I was wearing just a bra and a slip and a kind of dead squirrel around my neck – he was colder than I was. The police cars would go by and they’d wave… merry Xmas, merry Xmas, merry Xmas."

"Anyway, I got caught in the middle of a pimp war between two kids in Chinchilla coats, they couldn’t have been more than 13 years old. They’re throwing knives and forks and spoons out into the street – it was deep – so I grabbed a ladle, and Dinah Washington was singing ‘Our Day Will Come’ and I knew that was it."

Here's the advent cover, with a whole lotta mimicry shakin' going on...Sorry about that.


Thursday, December 01, 2022

The Advent Jukebox, Day 1....Murder By Mistletoe.


The idea of a homemade 'song a day'-type advent calendar/juke box came to me in late November a few years ago.

And when the holiday(ish)-themed tunes began they were, essentially, lullabies for our oldest kid who was half a continent away cramming for final exams at the time.

This year, our youngest kid is across the Salish Sea doing her own cramming and final paper writing.

So, here comes this year's first offering...


From a piece over at the popculturish 'Live Science' by Lily Norton:

...The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe started in ancient Greece, during the festival of Saturnalia and later in marriage ceremonies, because of the plant's association with fertility...


...In Victorian England, kissing under the mistletoe was serious business. If a girl refused a kiss, she shouldn't expect any marriage proposals for at least the next year, and many people would snub their noses at her, remarking that she would most likely end up an old maid...

Yes, but can you actually commit murder by mistletoe?

Almost, maybe...

...(T)he plant contains toxic amines , and eating its berries can cause vomiting and stomach pain. In the past, mistletoe had been thought to be a cure for epilepsy and other ailments, but was proved false. In fact, mistletoe is probably more harmful than helpful: deaths have even been reported from drinking too much tea made from its berries.

All of which brings us to our Day 1 tune by Mr. Ian Felice...