Thursday, March 23, 2023

About Time...


The following is the lede from front page piece in today's The Washington Post by Casey Parks, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement:

Transgender Americans experience stigma and systemic inequality in many aspects of their lives, including education, work and health-care access, a wide-ranging Washington Post-KFF poll finds.

Many have been harassed or verbally abused. They’ve been kicked out of their homes, denied health care and accosted in bathrooms. A quarter have been physically attacked, and about 1 in 5 have been fired or lost out on a promotion because of their gender identity. They are more than twice as likely as the population at large to have experienced serious mental health struggles such as depression.

Yet most trans adults say transitioning has made them more satisfied with their lives.

“Living doesn’t hurt anymore,” said TC Caldwell, a 37-year-old Black nonbinary person from Montgomery, Ala. “It feels good to just breathe and be myself.”...


As PZ Myers noted:

"About time a national paper was brave enough to say it."


Especially that part in red, above.

Non-musical ear worm in the subheader?...This.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Fantasy Baseball At The End Of The World (John Samson-Fellows Cover)


Mr. Samson Fellows (previously known as John K. Samson to many) wrote this tune in the late 'teens back when the previous US'ian president was still raging, full throttle.

Luckily for all of us, for awhile there the former guy seemed to recede into the background.

But now he's back, hoping like heckfire that even the threat of indictments to come will whip his base into a frenzy that will turn Americans against each other in the streets and while simultaneously turning on the fundraising spigots, full blast, once again.

Thus, I figured Mr. Sampson Fellows' brilliant song song of despair, hope and resolve could do with a wee bit of a tweak.

Here's my cover(ish) version...


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Jean Chr├ętien Isn't The Only Canadian Who Did The Right Thing In 2003.


There was also that Lotuslandian, then currently living and plying his trade in Dallas, Texas.

The following is from a piece by Dave Zirin, writing in the Nation in the fall of 2014, on the eve of Steve Nash's imminent retirement:

...(I)t is difficult to remember just how deafening the political quietude was back in 2003. While several million people converged on New York City to say no to what we then called “Bush’s war,” the sports world institutionally, from team owners to media puff pieces, was a center of unquestioned patriotism. For people who only read the sports page, and stay off the front page, being confronted with dissenting views was a non-option.

Into this stifling atmosphere came Steve Nash, then with the Dallas Mavericks, showing up at the 2003 All-Star game wearing a T-shirt that read, “No war. Shoot for peace.” When challenged by a shocked press corps, Nash said, “I think that war is wrong in 99.9 percent of all cases. I think [Operation Iraqi Freedom] has much more to do with oil or some sort of distraction, because I don’t feel as though we should be worrying about Iraq.”

He leveled a tragically prescient statement to the powers that be, saying, “I think that Saddam Hussein is a crazy dictator, but I don’t think he’s threatening us at this point in time. We haven’t found any nuclear weapons—no matter what anyone says—and that process is still under way. Until that’s finished and decided I don’t think that war is acceptable.”

Nash did not say that Bush, Cheney and Condoleezza Rice were just mistaken, but actually had very nefarious, and ulterior motives, stating, “Unfortunately, this is more about oil than it is about nuclear weapons.” Nash also took issue with the pro-war media. Two years before The New York Times and The Washington Post apologized publicly for their craven, utterly embedded pro-war coverage, Nash said, “I think a lot of what we hear in the news is misleading and flat-out false, so I think it’s important for us to think deeper and find out what is really going on.”

Nash also did not buckle when Mavs owner Mark Cuban—who fancies himself as a renegade free-thinker—came down on Nash for his views. The Canadian citizen also did not budge when then Spurs center David Robinson said, “If it’s an embarrassment to [Nash] maybe [he] should be in a different country.”...

Tip 'O The Toque to Cathie from Canada for the reminder of Mr. Nash past.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Cruise Ship Crisis Averted, Allegedly.


Remember back in the heart of the pandemic when the usual suspects 'round here were lighting their hair on fire because the premier of the day wouldn't/couldn't force the feds to get rid of rules that prevented massive floating petrie dishes from landing in Lotusland while legislators in Alaska were passing laws that allowed said dishes to sail straight from Seattle to Anchorage without a stop in British Columbia?

If you can't quite remember all those burning sticks of epidermally produced keratin, here's a sampling straight from the bonfire, written by the Dean of the Legislative Press Gallery in a Vancouver Sun column published on September 15, 2021:

...Horgan’s last line of defence is that cruise ship operators will include B.C. ports in their itineraries even if they are not obliged to do so in U.S. law.

Maybe. But the premier has been wrong at every turn...


That was then and this is now, as per the lede of Derrick Penner's stenography piece published this past weekend in the VSun:

The arrival of Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess at the Canada Place cruise terminal on April 12 will be symbolic of a hoped-for continuation of tourism’s rebound in Vancouver.

It will be the first of what the Port of Vancouver expects to be a record 331 cruise ship visits to the city in the 2023 season...

Imagine that!


Sunday, March 19, 2023

California Zephyr... (Hibbard/Farrar Cover)


The most recent Christmas shopping season not long past the two E's and I went shopping in downtown Victoria rather than along our usual route on the other side of the Salish Sea that stretches, pretty much on a line from Kitsalino to what was once 3-Vets down by Vancouver Police Headquarters.

So what you ask?

Well, because littler e. wanted to walk down Fort St. in downtown Victoria it meant that we stopped in at Russell Books.

Which, because Russell's has such a great selection of all kinds, meant that I was easily able to get the remaining books for gifts that I hadn't already found elsewhere.

And then I ran across Joyce Johnson, nee Glassman's, insightful tale of how Jack Kerouac's distinctly antagonistic dual personality traits could only truly be self-assuaged by his development of the spontaneous prose method that was spurred on with a little help from his friends and a truly insane work ethic. In the end this resulted in the continuous 1951 typewriter scroll manuscript that, a full six years later, after much editing and re-writing, would finally be published.

Glassman was with Kerouac in September of 1957 on the night he read Gilbert Millstein's New York Times review that helped to make him very famous, very fast after so many years trying. The image at the top of the post was taken of the two of them not long after.

Three years later, after sneaking into San Francisco, not in the passenger seat of a broken down Hudson driven by Neal Cassady, but instead in his own private roomette on the cross country California Zephyr passenger train, Kerouac, who was by then in his late thirties and a raging alcoholic, decided that he had to make one fast move or he would soon be gone.

So he headed down the coast to Big Sur.

Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard wrote and recorded an entire album about the novel that ensued.

Track one is 'California Zephyr'.

Here's my version...


Saturday, March 18, 2023

(Anti) March Madness!...The Roofball World Championship.


I enjoy March Madness as much as the next guy, but...

It's so frenetic and there are so many games, especially this weekend.


If you need a break and are looking for something a little more DIY that still has great production values, national anthems, post-game interviews and hot dogs, check out the 2023 Roofball World Championship coming to the entire globe from the pastoral streets of Beaverton Oregon.

If you need a primmer, check out the 2008 World Championships, above.

This year's event is being live streamed at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern today (but they will leave the stream up if you want to tune in, say, after all the college basketball is done).

Check it out - you won't be sorry (audio problems resolved at the 36 min. mark...but have no fear that still gives you a full 3 and 1/2 hours of the thrill of all victories and the not so agonizing defeats!).

I'm pretty sure both my brothers will really dig this.


Friday, March 17, 2023

The Craptacularists Behind The Woke Bank Codswallop.


It was cooked up in the fetid boiler rooms deep in the bowels of the Trumpiest of (anti) think tanks, the Claremont Institute.

It was then released by wingnut welfare-backed weasels like Charlie Kirk and the Supreme Court-stuffing Federalist Society before it moved on to Fox News and more 'serious' cable news outlets before it was finally smeared across the digital public prints in places like Newsweek.

And, to be absolutely clear, the 'it' under discussion is pure unadulterated codswallop, purposefully packaged and deliberately flung into the public consciousness where, even after it is fully discredited, it will stick just enough such that it can be re-used and recycled again and again and again to distract, deflect and disinform everyone concerned when the next crisis of confidence arises.

Josh Marshall, working and writing at Talking Points Memo, has the story and the receipts. Here's his lede:

According to stories bursting across the right-wing mediasphere today, a key reason for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was its focus on spreading “woke culture” rather than efficiently managing risk and profits. Ground zero for this is the allegation that SVB had donated over $73 million to the “BLM Movement & Related Causes.” That struck me as quite a lot of money for a single company, even a large and profitable one, to give to anycause or even all causes. So I tried to find out where this factoid came from and rapidly found my way to a Trumpist think tank. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s a complete lie...

Marshall then goes on to demonstrate that it all traces back to a bogus Claremont Institute database wherein contributions to, or monetary contracts entered into with, anyone or any institution that has any connection whatsoever to African Americans is a direct money funnel to 'Black Lives Matter' and urban rioting.

Which is why, in addition to Silicon Valley Bank, Bank of America is also in the craptacularists' database.


Because Bank of America does business with and gives things like mortgages to black people.

These really are some of the worst people in the world who are doing their darnedest to destroy liberal democracy as we know it.

And for what?

Image at the top of the post...Director of the Claremont Institute's 'Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence' John Eastman (yes, 'that' John Eastman) with Rudy Giuliani at Mr. Trump's pre-insurrection party on January 6, 2021.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

There's A (Fairly) New Menace On The Streets These Days...


This morning I had to ride down into the bowels of central Lotusland's hospital industrial complex to pick up a reagent from a colleague - an antibody, actually, that he thinks might help us further characterize a weird immune-type cell we are seeing in one of our experimental tumour progression assays.


Despite the fact it is bike route-lined, I normally avoid that chunk of West 10th Avenue at all costs given how congested it is, especially on weekdays.

And this morning I  almost smacked into a kid on one of those new-fangled electronic scooters after he swooped through the intersection and came around the corner at Heather St.

Man, those things are fast, silent and, potentially, deadly.

Be careful out there everybody!

Truth be told,
I had an even closer call a few weeks ago when I passed through my office door one evening and came face-to-face with one of those things as it came zipping, silently, down the hallway...As you might imagine whole lot of 'Get off my lawn/Get outta my building' - type old guy muttering under the breath, and even a wee bit of yelling, ensued...
Subheader earworm got hold of your auricles?...Of course...This!


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

What's Good For The Grift Is Also Good For.....America?


From Marcy Wheeler writing at Emptywheel:

Steve Bannon’s sometime partner Guo Wengui was arrested this morning on a sweeping indictment charging a $1 billion conspiracy, four sets of wire and security fraud charges each tied to a particularly business, as well as other money laundering charges.

It will take (me at least) some time to understand the full scope of the alleged behavior.

But for now, know that SDNY started seizing some of the proceeds of this fraud last year, and will now move to seize the yacht on which Bannon was arrested for his own fraud indictment...


Mr. Bannon's own indictment?

Gosh, what was that all about Alfie?

Former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon pleaded not guilty on Thursday (August 20, 2020) hours after being arrested on a luxury yacht for allegedly skimming donations from an online fundraising campaign for the president’s controversial border wall with Mexico.

Using a non-profit organization that he controlled, Bannon “received over $1m from the ‘We Build the Wall’ online campaign, at least some of which he used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in [his] personal expenses”, federal prosecutors in New York allege...

And then there was, and is, the following, from Dave Weigel writing at Semaphor about the latest version of the US'ian conservative bash known as 'CPAC':

...(T)he New Federal State of China, “declared” three years ago by Steve Bannon and exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, made its first CPAC appearance (in 2023) with a $75,000 sponsorship, and two high-tech booths where volunteers handed out leaflets and explained why the battle to destroy the CCP had to be won in America.

That isn’t hyperbole. “The elimination of the Chinese Communist Party is essential in breaking the shackles of slavery imposed on the Chinese people,” Bannon said at the 2020 ceremony launching the NFSC, “and also, in bringing about peace to the international community and all mankind.” Guo, citing “Chinese culture,” pricked his finger and signed the declaration with his blood.

The Bannon-Wengui partnership burst into the headlines before the 2020 election, when Bannon was arrested on Guo’s yacht on charges that were later superseded by a pardon from President Trump...


Perhaps Samuel Johnson was, indeed, right when he wrote, to obliquely reference Don Mclean, 'a long long time ago', that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

Or some such thing.

Image at the top of the post?...The good Mr. Bannon on the yacht in question, courtesy the London Economic.


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Round Up All The Woke Bloggers Immediately!


DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis, DeSantis.  Ron.



A Republican state senator in Florida has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require bloggers who write about Gov. Ron DeSantis, his Cabinet or state legislators to register with the state...


I guess some speech isn't quite as free as advertised in the Sunshine State.


Saturday, March 11, 2023



Cory Doctorow, writing at his website 'Pluralistic' (you can find it on the left side Blogcrawl), makes the case that a lot of corporations, not averages Joes and Jolinas that received pandemic relief, have been driving a significant portion of the long part of thepost-Covid inflationary tail by using the entire thing as an 'excuse' to raise their prices:

...(N)ot all the price rises were temporary, nor could they all be attributed to supply shocks. Reporters who tuned into earnings calls from large, monopolistic packaged goods companies like Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever and Procter and Gamble were amazed to hear CEOs and CFOs boasting about how they were able to use the excuse of inflation to raise prices...

Imagine that!


Friday, March 10, 2023

Cougars Of The Salish Sea.


The Panthera Corporation is a non-profit group that is devoted to maintaining wild cat ecosystems worldwide.

Recently, they have been tracking cougars on the Olympic Peninsula, which, if you live in Victoria, you can probably see from your house and/or any highpoint with a south facing view.

Melissa Breyer, writing for Treehugger, has that story:

...As part of Panthera’s Olympic Cougar Project, a research initiative on the Peninsula, a mother cougar and her 1½-year-old son, known as M161, were outfitted with GPS collars to track their movement. The press release explains what happened next:

“To scientists’ astonishment, M161 spent several months on land after his collaring before swimming 1.1 km [.68 miles] from the eastern edge of the Peninsula to Puget Sound’s Squaxin Island. Based on this journey, scientists estimate that at least 3,808 of the Salish Sea’s 6,153 islands could be accessible to ‘island hopping’ cougars.”...

Imagine that!


Wednesday, March 08, 2023

The Good Old Days.


There are certain folks, especially those of a certain political persuasion, that want everything to be like it was in the good old days.

Like, say, the golden age of the 1950's.

Of course, many things, especially for folks that don't fit into neat 1950's-ish societal boxes, are actually much better in the here and now.

However, when it comes to all things taxes, especially corporate taxes, I'm all for going back to the future.

Amy Hanauer made it clear why this could be the answer to our collective public deficit fears recently in an OpEd piece in the Hill Times:

...Corporate profits hit a new record of $2.8 trillion in 2021. Yet, corporate income taxes now cover just 10 percent of federal revenue, down from more than 30 percent in the 1950s...

That, of course, is the US'ian situation.

However, it does not appear that significant historical trend downward is any different up here in Canuckistanmikitaville.


If some group were to mount a serious push toward having corporations pay their fair share to maintain the common good you can bet that a million (more) lobbyists (than usual) would immediately swarm the halls of government, media megalopoli, and the most influential academic towers in a concerted effort to convince all and sundry that such a change would result in the collapse of civilization as we know it along with a simultaneous rise in the price of beer and gasoline.

Or some such thing.

Subheader? Accompanies the image at the top of the post from 1958, because...This.


Tuesday, March 07, 2023

How Much Did The 'Smoothening' Of The Living Wage Policy Save Us?


Zac Vescera, writing in The Tyee, notes that Vancouver mayor Ken Sim said:

...(M)ost city employees were already paid more than the 2023 living wage...


Given that, what did Mr. Sim's council's super-secret decision to 'take rate implementation into consideration' when it took inflation out of the equation of the CoV's Living Wage Policy save, we the taxpayers of Vancouver.


Who the heck knows:

...The Tyee reached out to Sim’s office for additional comment, including what sticking with the living wage program might have cost, but did not hear back by publication time...


Is it really possible that the mayor not know the dollar amount saved by our fair city?


Is it possible he doesn't want us to know?

Now why might that be?

Well, if the number is actually small, which it is not unreasonable to assume given the mayor's claim that the majority of majority of city employees are already making the living wage, is it possible this really was done, not for the benefit of taxpayers, but for, say, the private companies that hire their own employees to fulfill contracts for public services?

If you get my drift.

Another nugget in Mr. Vescera's Tyee piece is the confirmation that, in addition to Christine Boyle, councillor Pete Fry also voted against the smoothening that could cost low end workers as much as $5,000 this inflation-laden year.
Subheader?...It's a mangling of one of Rare Mair's favourite sayings, originally uttered by Oscar Wilde, about certain political types knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing...The good Mr. Sim has already demonstrated that this is an adage he is familiar with when it comes to library funding.


Monday, March 06, 2023

Anti-Living Wage Initiative, ctd.



It might seem like nothing.

After all, how much could a rolling five year 'smoothening'  (a.k.a. get out of dealing with inflation free card) of the City of Vancouver's living wage initiative really hurt.

Well, for workers at the low end of the scale it means plenty.

Dan Fumano had the numbers in his Vancouver Sun opinion piece over the weekend:

...If the city had continued its commitment this year, a full-time worker earning a living wage at 35 hours a week would make about $43,825, she said, but that worker earning the five-year rolling average would earn about $38,038...

As Anastasia French, manager of Living Wage for Families B.C., pointed out, that's like a loss of two months rent in this city.

Meanwhile, the new mayor, Ken Sim, whose super-majority council made the smoothening decision, in secret, over a month ago, wants to have his cake....errrr...cut and eat it too:

...“We remain hopeful,” Sim said, that Living Wage for Families B.C. will continue to engage with the city and “take variations in rate implementation into consideration in its annual calculations to allow organizations that use this more practicable approach to continue to be certified.”...

'Variations in rent implementation'?

That sure is some high-falutin' obfuscatory phrase in-extremis.

Unfortunately, given their $5,000 loss, it's not something that CoV workers can use to pay their rent or buy their groceries.



Sunday, March 05, 2023

Should He Stay Or Should He Go?


From the failing NY Times:

...Mr. Trump was definitive when asked Saturday whether he would stay in the race if one of the prosecutors brought an indictment. “Oh absolutely. I wouldn’t even think about leaving,” he said, adding that he believed an indictment would increase his poll numbers...


Never mind that Fifth Avenue thing.


Papa's got a brand new (grievance) bag.


Saturday, March 04, 2023

Kiss The Ring...No One Will Know.


From Robert Benzie, writing in the Toronto Star:

Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives have quietly held the largest political fundraiser in Canadian history, bringing in a staggering $6 million.

Quietly, because even though more than 4,000 people paid $1,500 apiece to attend Thursday’s sold-out event at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke, it was closed to the media...


...Attendees on Thursday night, speaking confidentially in order to freely discuss what they saw, said it was a coterie of elected officials, lobbyists, developers, union leaders, political staffers, lawyers and assorted other hangers-on.

“Wow, what a room, what a crowd. The energy in here is absolutely amazing. I’m told that we have over 4,000 people here tonight. It’s truly remarkable — and make no mistake, this is a dinner to celebrate all of Ontario,” the premier told the assembled throng...

And if there were members of the coterie from 'all' of Ontario that were a little concerned that their constituencies, members, and/or customer bases might not like to see them cosying up to Doug Ford on bended knee?

No problem, the once and future label maker, has taken care of that also:

...Under previous Progressive Conservative, Liberal and NDP premiers, such partisan fundraising events were open to the media, but Ford’s office controversially ended that tradition in 2019.

That was after the Star had revealed four years ago that lobbyists had been enlisted to sell tickets...


Didn't the good premier's men also strong arm select members of that very same coterie into attending a party to help pay for a certain family member's wedding not long ago?

Why, yes, they did.

But have no fear of wrongdoing because:

...(Ontario's Integrity) The commissioner determined that since the premier said he had “no knowledge of gifts” and that there was “no discussion of government business,” Ford was in the clear...


I guess ring kissing isn't part of the integrity commissioner's purview.


Friday, March 03, 2023

What The Mayor Said About His Party's Decision To 'Smooth' The Living Wage Policy Before The Secret Was Out.



Vancouver City Council voted over a month ago, in secret, to smooth (i.e. remove any consideration of inflation) from the city's longterm commitment to the Living Wage policy for its employees and privately contracted service providers


What was the mayor, Mr. Ken Sim, saying about all this before Christine Boyle forced the city to acknowledge the result of the secret vote.

Allie Turner of VIA has that story:

...Asked at a news conference earlier this week about the status of the living wage policy, Sim said: "We're committed to making sure that the City of Vancouver is competitive in terms of wages, benefits and work environment. And so what we need to do is look at these things holistically, and it's our goal to be a best employer…and we will do everything we can to be a best employer."...



The Swarming Of The Stochastic Parrots.


Suddenly, AI-based chat bots are everywhere.

In my business that's a real concern, for obvious reasons.

And then there's the issue of the bots becoming unhinged:

Things took a weird turn when Associated Press technology reporter Matt O'Brien was testing out Microsoft's new Bing, the first-ever search engine powered by artificial intelligence, last month.

Bing's chatbot, which carries on text conversations that sound chillingly human-like, began complaining about past news coverage focusing on its tendency to spew false information.

It then became hostile, saying O'Brien was ugly, short, overweight, unathletic, among a long litany of other insults.

And, finally, it took the invective to absurd heights by comparing O'Brien to dictators like Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin...

The thing is, a few of the nerds that helped design these things saw the unhinging coming.

Case in point, a paper by a number of computer scientists called 'On The Dangers Of Stochastic Parrots'

Megan O'Gieblyn, in her piece titled Sentience and Sensibility'  published in the Baffler, explained the thesis of the nerds succinctly:

...It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a computer scientist, to predict that algorithms fed the entirety of Reddit and 4chan will, when prompted with words like “women” or “Black” or “queer,” spit out stereotypes and hate speech...

All of which has me wondering how long it will be before the only truly valuable knowledge (i.e. that which is coveted by the wealthy and the powerful for its power) will be that which has never seen the light of the digital day.

Or some such thing.


Thursday, March 02, 2023

Secret Meeting At Vancouver City Hall.


Vancouver city council met more than a month ago.

In secret.

To trash the CoV's previous commitment to have all employees and contractors be paid a living wage on a yearly basis.*


Is this really about the difficulties with administration and problems of pay structure at the CoV as is being portrayed by the gutless wonders that now control our city.


Is it perhaps about the cost to private contractors and the maintenance of their profit margins for doing public work?

to the MoCo's Justin McElroy only Christine Boyle is known, for sure, to have bucked the wonders ...And, just to be clear, not only did the wonders vote in secret, they also delayed the 'release' of their decision for more than a month (i.e. it just came out today, March 2nd).


How Does A Retail Business With A Gazillion Trucks And Eleventy Billion Last Mile Problems Make Money?


Me, I'm just a dopey academic who knows less than zero when it comes to running a business.

But when I was a kid I worked in a local hardware store filled to bursting with everything from clock radios to toilet flappers.

And, rarely, I would deliver stuff, usually to an elderly customer in the neighbourhood who couldn't get to the store (I grew up in Oak Bay, in Victoria, at a time when just about everyone was an old).


As a result of my after school retail job I know, first hand, how inefficient a distributed delivery model is compared to a centralized one.

As such, I have never been able to understand how a company like Amazon actually makes bucket loads of money on its entirely distributed retail business.

Well, according to local Lotuslandian tech guy Tim Bray, they don't.

In fact, as someone who scrutinizes Amazon's financial statements regularly, Mr. Bray has come to the conclusion that Amazon actually loses bucket loads of money on retail:

...Amazon as a whole isn’t really very profitable. Its retail sector loses money, and that loss is made up by the tens of billions of gravy coming in from AWS (Amazon Web/Cloud Computing Services) and Advertising.

Why is this business structure considered rational? And why is it legal for Amazon to be the prime competitor of the economy’s whole retail sector while not having to make a profit?

Obviously, foregoing profit for the sake of growth is a tried-and-true business strategy, and laudable within limits. But it seems obvious to me that Amazon is way, way past those limits.

As I’ve said since the moment I walked out Amazon’s door in May 2020, AWS should be spun off. The best time to do that was three years ago. The second best time is now...

Imagine that!

What does Bray know?....Well he used to be a VP at Amazon before he quit at the beginning of the pandemic when he couldn't stomach how the company was treating its workers as he
I learned of Mr. Bray recently on the latest episode of Arshy Mann's most excellent podcast 'Commons'.


Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Barge v. Progress Vancouver...Who Will Pay Up First?


As we noted earlier today, the Lotuslandian political stalking horse party known as 'Progress Vancouver', which was led by Mr. Mark Marissen, has still has not paid back the illegal $50,000 loan it received while it was still in last year's Vancouver civic election campaign starting gate.

Meanwhile, the English Bay Barge, which will never race the tide nor chill on a beach again given that it is now fully dismantled, still owes the city of Vancouver $66,000 according to the crackerjack reporting of Bob Mackin in BIV:

...According to a statement from the city’s communications department on Feb. 27, $66,112.23 in costs have been submitted for reimbursement from the vessel owner Sentry Marine Towing Ltd. and insurer Coast Claims Insurance.

The total includes $58,264 billed by contractor Securiguard for round-the-clock protection from November 2021 to January 2022 and $7,848.23 for Vancouver Police on Nov. 15-16, 2021....


That leads to the obvious question...

Who will pay up first?


Marky Mark's Walkin' In The Wild West End Money.


Well, well, well...

It turns out that Mr. Mark Marissen, the doomed-to-fail candidate from last fall's Vancouver mayoral race, received a big whack of cash, in the form of a loan, from one prominent local CEO.

Bob Mackin, writing in 'Business In Vancouver', explains:

The fourth-place finisher in last fall’s race for the Vancouver mayoralty received an illegal $50,000 loan and is now struggling to return the money.

Mark Marissen was the leader of Progress Vancouver and had received the loan from Jason McLean in February 2022 “to finance the day-to-day administration of Progress Vancouver's elector organization office intended to operate on a continuing basis outside campaign periods,” according to an Elections BC prohibited campaign loan form...


...Jason McLean is CEO of the privately held McLean Group, which owns real estate, construction, film production, IT and communications, and flight charter companies. He is a former chair of the then-named Vancouver Board of Trade, and a former Vancouver Police Board member who worked as an aide in the office of Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien. He declined to comment...

But here's the thing...

The provincial government made such massive 'Wild West' contributions to civic elections illegal in 2021.


How does Mr. Marissen explain his actions?

Well, apparently, he has invoked the Sgt. Schultz 'I knew nothing!' defense:

...Marissen admitted Progress Vancouver was unaware of the NDP government’s amendments to campaign financing laws via the March 2021 Local Elections Statutes Amendment Act “as it pertains to the effect of deeming all loans to an elector organization to be loans for election expenses and subject to the prescribed limit on loans from non-financial institutions.”...

But wait, there's more:

...Marissen also said the party received wrong advice from an unnamed lawyer in January 2022, who said there was no jurisdictional limit, dollar limit or limit based on individual versus corporate status to fund the day-to-day operations of a party office outside of campaign or election periods...

Gosh, lawyer blaming.

Not to cast any aspersions whatsoever but, in addition to being a noted outdoorsman, isn't the fine fellow who made the defacto also a lawyer?

And, finally, just in case you were wondering, the good Mr. Marissen has not yet re-paid said loan:

... “It (Progress Vancouver) hoped to be able to return Mr. McLean's loan through campaign contributions, but has not been successful to date in doing so. Progress Vancouver continues to solicit permitted donations and intends to repay Mr. McLean.”...

All of which just goes to show that both the rich and the politically connected in Lotusland are most definitely not like you and me.


Flouting of the new anti-wild west election rules aside, why would a member of an uber-fine local family fork over $50K to a faux progressive candidate who didn't have a hoot-in-heckfire's chance of winning anyway?...More on that to come...


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Is This The End Of Tree Planting As We Know It?


It would appear that a Canadian company called Flash Forest just might be set to to end, or at least put a serious dent in, what is one of our largest and longest running summer jobs progams of all time:

...Flash Forest is a reforestation company that uses aerial mapping software, drone technology, pneumatics, automation and ecological science to reforest areas at a rapid pace, especially areas that have been clear-cut or ravaged by wildfires.

 Having the hard labor done by a drone accelerates the pace of reforestation by at least 10 times over having humans alone do the work (see video below). And two humans could potentially direct 10 of these drones, so the pace can be geometrically accelerated...


...The company aims to bring the cost down to 55¢ per tree, about a quarter of the cost of most tree restoration efforts...

The above was from a Forbes report in the fall of 2020.

And, now, a little over two years later, it's still pretty much a credulous gee-willikers, better-than-sliced-bread-type story.

However, the company has started to scale up and is doing field tests:

...By spring of 2022, the company refined its drone and software tech and partnered with federal and provincial governments, private landowners, forestry companies and First Nations communities to plant 150,000 trees on land they each own or manage.

The company had fleets of three drones each planting 1,500 to 1,600 pods across public and private parcels in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Flash Forest monitors and ensures the desired seedling density is reached across each site it visits, and checks on the health, growth rate and species distribution of seedlings after the plantings...


If this works, obviously it  will be a very good thing in terms of the rate and cost of reforestation.

But, on the unintended consequences side...

When will we get the first report of some unsuspecting back country hiker being forced to take cover under a hail seed pods being shot pneumatically from black helicopters....errrrr...drones?

And, more importantly...

What will all those legions of kids who used to take to the woods every summer, shovel in hand (and weed in backpack) do to make their college tuition nut? 

And, perhaps most importantly, just think of all the music, like that of the Be Good Tanyas from days of yore, that won't get made.


Earworm in the sub-header machinery?....Of course....This.


Monday, February 27, 2023

Cassiopeia (Reina Del Cid Cover)


Cassiopeia is a star constellation high in the northern sky that is named after the vainglorious mother of Andromeda in Greek mythology.

It is also a stranded space traveller's lament that has been conjured and sung by my favourite internet DIY musicians, Reina Del Cid.

Here, thanks to reader Ken's request, is my version...

Image at the top of the post is by nightscape photographer Amirreza Kamkar...It's taken in Northern Iran with the Caspian sea just over the horizon...Cassiopeia is in the upper right part of the sky.


Sunday, February 26, 2023

On The Road To Public Policy?...The Plan To 'Ban The Jab' In Florida.


From Bruce Y. Lee, writing in Forbes:

If the Lee County Republican Party has their way, the state of Florida will be banning the use of Covid-19 vaccines. Yes, you heard that correctly. Based on a majority vote, the Party has passed a so-called “Ban the jab” resolution that will now go to the desk of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) for his consideration...

In case you are not up on your Florida geography, the county seat of Lee County is Fort Myers.

The following is from one of the many, many websites extolling the city's virtues for retirees:

Consider relocating to Fort Myers for retirement! Residents aged 65-84 are the largest demographic in Fort Myers, and the city has been recognized as one of the best cities to retire in because of its amazing weather and active lifestyle opportunities!...

Active retirement lifestyle opportunities like, say, non-stop pickle ball tournaments, pictured above.


The upshot is that there are lots of old people in Fort Myers.

And at least a few of those olds just might be interested in the following:


Given the actual data, which overwhelmingly indicates that the mRNA vaccines protect old people from dying, you could just dismiss this 'Ban the Jab' codswallop out of hand as nothing more than yet another small group of wackaloons looking to ride the algorithm's 'Own the Libs' outrage wave all the way to the sunny shores of a quick hitter on the Newsmax TeeVee before it recedes into the backwash of a couple of long segments with Dennis Prager and/or Ben Shapiro and is then forgotten forever.

Unfortunately, particularly given the way things work in our modern media world, such an out of hand dismissal would be a mistake.

Because, if the algorithm's fast forward feedback loop gives the fine folks from the Lee County Republican Party any traction whatsoever, you can bet that the (not so) creatively destructive army of analytical boweevils working for Mr. DeSantis will do very their best to amplify the heck out of this 'resolution'.

And if that works, the next thing you know it will be a seriously considered policy initiative for the Florida governor that, if it then wurlitzers up further outrage, especially after its profile is raised when it is joked about incessantly by commentators on CNN and MSNBC for a news cycle or three, it will ultimately become a 'legitimate' issue for debate between when the Republican presidential primary season gets underway early next year.

Meanwhile, a considerable number of those old folks in Fort Myers and the surrounding environs will decide not to get their bivalent boosters.

With very predictable results.


Tip O' the Toque to a still-snowed-in PZ Myers, who, while he is an old, still resides in small town Minnesota with his spiders...


Friday, February 24, 2023

What's On My Desktop?...Audioblog For February 24, 2023


Had all the windows open, above, on my desktop.


Rather than writing about each, as an old guy, I decided to just talk about them for a little while...


Blather No 1:  BC Rail

Blather No 2:  Fed Gov Outsourcing

Blather No 3:  Bivalent Covid Booster Efficacy

Blather #4:  Bust This

Blather #5: Countering for countering's sake

Blather #5: Despite What Craig Finn Says, In This Case The Future Was Not Unwritten

Talkin' like old guys musical snippet at the beginning?...From my attempt to cover M. Ward's impeccably timed ode to memory and surprise...O'Brien's Nocturne.


Thursday, February 23, 2023

Clean Streets.


I, too, am happy that all the mushed down banana leaves that contribute to much slipping and sliding, curbside, when things get frosty, are gone from our Eastside street also.

However, it sure would be nice if just once in awhile the city of Vancouver went east to west instead of the other way around so that we could have clean streets before the first big snowfall of the year instead of just before the (presumably) last little one.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go outside, squint into the sunlight, and yell at the squirrels to get off my lightly dusted lawn!

Update: Link reader extraordinare, NVG, has informed me that the CoV indicates that, while it collects leaves east to west, it claims it cleans the leaf mush off the streets from north to south...My experience travelling east to west and back by bicycle most days suggest that is not a universal cleaning down the latitudes  - this is illustrated by the map at the link.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Stand Back And Stand....errrrr....Take The Stand.


Surprise, surprise:

Defense attorneys for five Proud Boys leaders intend to call former President Donald Trump to testify as a witness in their clients’ seditious conspiracy trial.

 However, it remains unclear whether their effort will succeed.

Lawyers for Joe Biggs, a Proud Boys organizer from Florida, revealed a subpoena Thursday that would compel Trump’s appearance in March and said they would seek the Justice Department’s assistance with serving Trump.

 “Donald Trump called on patriots to stop the steal,” said Biggs’ lawyer Norm Pattis. “We’re calling on Donald Trump to take the stand.”...

If it does happen, which is unlikely, you can bet that the former guy's new moniker will almost certainly soon become Donald J. Trump 'The Fifth'.

If it's not already.



Local Conservative Is Shocked!


Local conservative is shocked!

Shocked I tell you!

To learn that a not quite local conservative re-education think tank farm is full of conservative re-education farmers!


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Latest Media Euphemism....'Guardrails'.


I don't know when, exactly, I noticed it.

But I do know that it now seems to be everywhere, whenever any disaster perpetrated by the greed heads comes to the fore.

Like when a monopoly runs amok and jacks cellular bills into the stratosphere.

Or when a tech giant tosses their workers in the dumpster to boost its stock price.

Or when a social media platform purposefully spreads disinformation that turns the work of cretins into conventional wisdom.

Or when a transportation behemoth runs roughshod over the railway ties and starts blowing stuff, including toxic stuff, up in small towns.

And then, when the soft-shoed media reports on the why's and wherefore's start to emerge, that's that's when you'll start to see and hear it.

The term 'guardrails' I mean.

As in...

"The lack of guardrails appear to have contributed to the resulting price jack/worker trampling/disinformation wurlitzering/explosion mongering etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam..."

No mention whatsoever, of course, of the longterm, big money-driven lobbying efforts to roll back regulations and all enforcement mechanisms that contribute to the resulting disasters.

If you get my drift.