Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure (JK Sampson-Fellows Cover)


John K. (then just) Sampson wrote a song cycle about/by/for a cat named Virtute over thirteen long years.

Personally, I think it is one of the greatest musical achievements, ever, by anyone who is (or once was) Canadian.

Here's my slightly warbly version of the second, most heartbreaking, tune...

if you will, how flummoxed this listener was to learn that the Sampson-Fellows family doesn't even own a cat...

Image at the top of the post...Our cat, not named Virtute, getting ready for a late afternoon/setting sun ride on the ferry...


Monday, January 30, 2023

If You Think Your Internet and Cellular Bills Are Big Now...


From Konrad Yakabuski, writing in the Globe and Mail last Friday:

There are two main conclusions to be drawn from this week’s Federal Court of Appeal decision rejecting the Competition Bureau’s request to block Rogers Communications’ takeover of Shaw Communications. Neither of them makes Canada look good.

The first is that the federal Competition Act is a toothless international embarrassment, wholly incapable of stopping corporate concentration in sectors that are critical to productivity growth in the Canadian economy.

The second is that the way this country regulates telecommunications puts way too much emphasis on stability and too little on innovation...

Of course, there is a third conclusion, long ago drawn.

Which is that you and I will pay more.

A whole lot more.

As for improvements in service and innovation driven by competition?



Sunday, January 29, 2023

That Person Who Changes Your Life.


For the last thirty years I've made my living growing microscopic clumps of cells called spheroids to help various folks test the function of genetic mutations that may or may not play a role in turning those cells cancerous.

A good example of the kind of work we do with those spheroids these days can be found here.

But it wasn't always that way.


Back when I was an undergrad (i.e. in the ancient times), I was lucky enough to take a course on the microscopic form and function of human tissues with a grizzled old developmental biologist named Tom Algard.

Algard was the type of guy who used to duck out of exams to practice his fly casting technique where the grass meets the woods outside the Cunningham building at UVIC. When I approached Algard to ask him for advice about graduate school he said the best thing I could do was to contact people whose papers I admired and propose the next experiments.

I took Dr. Algard's advice to heart, read a bunch of papers, formulated scads of experiments, and sent out a handful of letters.

Two people responded. 

One was a very nice fellow at Dalhousie who worked on cranio-facial development. The other was a woman at UBC who mostly cultured cervical and ovarian cells in an effort to determine the mechanisms responsible for transforming them into tumour cells. 

Dr. Nelly Auersperg also worked on more esoteric projects at the time, one of which resulted in a paper titled "Morphological and functional differentiation of Kirsten murine sarcoma virus-transformed rat adrenocortical cell lines" that was published in 1981. That paper, and the idea that the state of a cell in a tissue might influence the type of tumour it gave rise to, fascinated me. As a result, I spent the next six years working in Nelly's lab isolating sub-populations of adrenortical cells, characterizing them, transforming them with the K-Ras oncogene, and figuring out that the oncogene had very different effects on those cells as they moved from their more primitive stem state to their fully functional state.

Truth be told, separate from all high faulting' science stuff, I knew I was hooked on the entire enterprise the first time I isolated the cells, got them to stick to the bottom of the culture dish, and looked down the barrel of the microscope to see them alive and happy, filled to bursting with bright little droplets of lipid that contain the raw material they use to produce their functional product - steroid hormones (see image at the top of the post).

Working with Nelly changed my life. She was always curious, always supportive, and she always encouraged those who were lucky enough to train with her to follow their own path as long as that path was hacked out of the unknown with tools built from data of rigour.


Late last fall,  C. and I had lunch with Nelly with one of her old technicians. We mostly talked about our kids and her grand kids (and their kids). And then, for just a few quick minutes, the conversation turned to one of my lab's recent papers. Just like in the old days Nelly had questions, questions that got right to the heart of the matter and tested the rigour of our conclusions. To keep from boring everyone else at the table to death, Nelly and I agreed that we would get together later, separately, to talk about things in detail. Unfortunately, that conversation never happened.

Two weeks ago, Nelly passed away at the age of 94.

As one of her colleagues told me recently, Dr. Nelly Auersperg was a giant in the field. However, science was only one part of her amazing life. 

You can read more about that life...Here  and ...Here.


Friday, January 27, 2023

The Cost Of Misinformation, COVID-19 Edition.

From the recently released Council of Canadian Academies report on healthcare misinformation:

...If those who reported believing COVID-19 is a hoax were vaccinated when they became eligible, over 2.3 million additional people in Canada would have been vaccinated, resulting in roughly 198,000 fewer cases, 13,000 fewer hospitalizations, and 2,800 fewer deaths from COVID-19 between March 1 and November 30, 2021...


With all the bleating and impugning that has gone since the fall of 2021, one can only wonder what the number of 'Hoaxians' among us would be now.

Link to the report's executive summary is...Here.
Link to a Postmedia report on the report is...Here.
Members of the panel that generated the report can be found...Here (scroll down and click on 'view full expert panel').


Thursday, January 26, 2023

All Your Immigrations Are Us.


We recently noted that the international men and women of mystery who make up the consulting firm McKinsey and Company received 100 million dollars from the Trudeau government over the past five years or so, a considerable chunk of it for their work on immigration issues.


As reader Graham noted, it turns out that these same fine folks also worked for another federal government on their immigration 'issues' as well...

The following is the lede of a piece written by Ian MacDougall that was jointly published ProPublica and the New York Times in 2019 with the apt title 'How McKinsey Helped The Trump Administration Detain and Deport Immigrants':

Just days after he took office in 2017, President Donald Trump set out to make good on his campaign pledge to halt illegal immigration. In a pair of executive orders, he ordered “all legally available resources” to be shifted to border detention facilities and called for hiring 10,000 new immigration officers.

The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) already had a partner on its payroll: McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration...

Interestingly, it wasn't long before the consulting company started to write its own ticket inside the Trump Administration's burgeoning immigration clampdown apparatus:

...(T)he consulting firm’s sway at ICE grew to the point that McKinsey’s staff even ghostwrote a government contracting document that defined the consulting team’s own responsibilities and justified the firm’s retention, a contract extension worth $2.2 million. “Can they do that?” an ICE official wrote to a contracting officer in May 2017.

The response reflects how deeply ICE had come to rely on McKinsey’s assistance. “Well it obviously isn’t ideal to have a contractor tell us what we want to ask them to do,” the contracting officer replied. But unless someone from the government could articulate the agency’s objectives, the officer added, “what other option is there?” ICE extended the contract...

And what kinds of things did the consultants do for Mr. Trump's clampdown on all immigration?


...The money-saving recommendations the consultants came up with made some career ICE staff uncomfortable. They proposed cuts in spending on food for migrants, as well as on medical care and supervision of detainees, according to interviews with people who worked on the project for both ICE and McKinsey and 1,500 pages of documents obtained from the agency after ProPublica filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act...


...In what one former official described as “heated meetings” with McKinsey consultants, agency staff members questioned whether saving pennies on food and medical care for detainees justified the potential human cost.

But the consulting firm’s sway at ICE grew to the point that McKinsey’s staff even ghostwrote a government contracting document that defined the consulting team’s own responsibilities and justified the firm’s retention...


This sure sounds like the type of very, very, very fine folks we here in Canada would want to deal with our post-COVID and global hotspot-driven increase in immigration, visa and refugee requests in both a humane and expeditious manner.

After all, we've dealt with it all so well so far.


After applying for a tourist visa, a Nova Scotia woman is asking why she and her husband may have to wait a year for him to be approved to visit Canada.

 Mary Dahr looked up the timeline for the processing of a visitor visa for her husband, who is Cuban, two months ago. At that time, the estimated wait was 90 days.

 By the time Dahr went to put in an application, the wait had jumped to 209 days, and has since risen to a year, at 359 days.

It's an issue that continues to affect people across the country, as immigration applications of all kinds, including visitor visas, continue to be the subject of long delays...


...There are approximately 2.1 million applications awaiting decision by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), including close to 1.09 million that are considered "in backlog."

Betsy Kane, an immigration lawyer in Ottawa and co-founding member of the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA), said the long processing times are a sign of a broken system.

"It's not normal to expect somebody to wait a year for a visitor visa," Kane said. "There's no excuse for that."...


Maybe if we doubled down and threw another $100 million to the Clampdown Consultants we could get that backlog down to, say, 0.99 million.

As you might expect,
the International Men and Women of Clampdown Consulting Mystery are nothing if not aggressive when it comes to P.R....As such, they pushed back, hard, against the original 2019 ProPublica/NYTimes piece...ProPublica pushed back even harder, receipts in fully in hand...
Earworm in sub-header?...This.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Davos Man (And Woman)...They're Not Like You And Me.



From the handbook of the recent big mucky-muck meeting for all the good Davos people:

As for you and me?

Just let it rip.


Tip of the Toque to the alway's great link round-up from Accidental Deliberations for the heads-up...


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Weekends of Richmond Past...


From reader EE on his weekends in Richmond and, occasionally, forays into greater Lotusland as a kid (in response to a post that featured balsa wood glider fun from my own childhood across the Salish sea)...

The wee balsa gliders were 5 cents, the larger ones 10 cents and with a rubber band 25 cents, from the gas station/store on number 5 road in Richmond.

The big treat was a Saturday morning shopping on Fraser St. and bread from the Wonder Bakery (with a free cookie) and lunch in the car at White Spot on South West marine, now gone.

Every three months or so, the family would venture downtown to Woodwards (the best toy department in Vancouver) and the Bay, which meant a lil suit and tie and my hair Brilcreamed back. The elevators all had young blonde teen operators and announce each floor as they manipulated the operating handles, like they were driving a train.

On the way home we would top at my Grandparents for Saturday Roast Beef, finally ending up at my uncles where i got to play with their real Lionel train. My parents could only afford a much cheaper used MARX train for me, but it didn't matter as it chugged on a little oval of track, but for me we were crossing vast mountains and small stations.

 Who needed remote cars?

While I agree that we didn't need remote controlled cars back in days of yore, I do know that my brothers and I would have gone berserk with a camera-equipped drone, especially on camping trips.

Image at the top of the post is from the really, really excellent 'Richmond Archives Blog'.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Hey, Dad!


I try to reserve Friday afternoons for what a retired colleague used to call 'white space'.

For me, that means trying to spend a little time reading the science geek papers that have caught my eye over the previous week or seven purely because they're interesting as opposed to the stuff I absolutely have to read because it is directly in the lab's wheelhouse/field of study - papers like this.

Unfortunately, more often than not this doesn't happen because I'm forced frantically finish a whack of administrative tasks I've been putting off all week but which have finally caught up to me because they have deadlines that (hopefully!) haven't already passed. Today that included a couple of reference letters, a comprehensive exam report, the writing of a meeting abstract, contacting a bunch of colleagues in an effort to cajole them into visiting with an upcoming seminar speaker, and reading a thesis.

I was just settling in with the latter, mid-afternoon, when I heard a bunch of excited kid voices on the quad across the street from my office.

When I looked out the window I saw three young boys and their Dad running around going bonkers taking turns making a remote control car do flips off a make-shift ramp and manipulating a small, powered glider that would circle up for, maybe, thirty seconds before it gently depended back to the pavement.

I was immediately taken back 50 years to balsa wood and/or styrofoam glider throwing with my two brothers and our Dad. Of course, a little later when things got really fancy, the gliders had wind-up, rubber band-powered propellers and everything.


I wonder if today's Dad later later took his kids swimming at the Crystal Gardens and afterwards treated them to Nalley's Piccadilly Salt'n Vinegar chips from the concession stand before making a stop at A&W on the way home for a quart of brown fizzy stuff in a wax paper container pinched closed with staples at the top (so that we could have root beer floats after dinner).

Just saying.


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Government Workers, Schmirkers.


McKinsey and Company is a 'global management and consulting' firm that sure seems to have been doing a lot of 'work' for the government of Canada  recently, as reported by Bill Curry of the Globe and (no longer Empire) Mail:

Ottawa has awarded 23 contracts to McKinsey & Company since 2015 with a total value of $101.4-million, federal officials say – a figure that is significantly higher than what has previously been revealed.

Public Services and Procurement Canada has released a statement with a new summary of federal spending with the New York-based consulting firm, just ahead of a House of Commons committee meeting Wednesday in which MPs will debate plans to hold hearings into government contracts with the company. 

According to a department spokesperson, three of the contracts were awarded through open solicitations, with a total value of $55.8-million, meaning “more than half of the total value of these contracts was awarded through competitive processes.” The other 20 contracts are described by the department as sole-sourced...

But, never mind the optics of all these contracts because, regardless, it's all great stuff, all the time, right?

Better than anything Pepsi, or Coke, and/or the folks who actually work for the government have to offer, correct?


Perhaps not, at least not always, as noted by Romain Schue and Thomas Gerbert in a recent Radio Canada report:

Radio-Canada's analysis shows that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has turned to McKinsey the most since 2015, with $24.5 million in contracts for management advice...

...McKinsey's influence over Canadian immigration policy has grown in recent years without the public's knowledge, according to two sources within IRCC. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Both held major roles within the department during the height of the consulting firm's influence and spoke to Radio-Canada separately. 

"It was completely opaque. We asked to collaborate, to share our ideas, but it didn't work," said one source with an important position within IRCC.

"McKinsey was an idea from the government. The policy was decided for civil servants. It causes a lot of operational instability," said the second source. 

"These people, these firms forget the public interest, they're not interested in it. They're not accountable."...

Imagine that!

And, by the way,
when Radio Canada contacted McKinsey they, who will gladly take public money to work on issues of public import, refused to comment publicly...Now that's accountability in action!


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Co-Optation Double-Down...UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC, COP 28).


The next UN conference on climate change, COP-28, will take place this fall in United Arab Emirates.

If you recall, by the time we got to COP-27 last year many of the 'delegates' were fossil fuel industry lobbyists:

...There are 636 lobbyists from the oil and gas industries registered to attend the (COP-27) UN event in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. At Glasgow, the figure was 503, which outnumbered the delegation of any single country. This year the only country with a larger delegation is the United Arab Emirates, hosts of Cop28 next year, which has 1,070 registered delegates, up from 176 last year...

Well, as you may have already guessed, that was nothing.

Because this year the uber-duber big boss of COP-28 is a bonafide captain of the industry itself:

...Ahmed Al Jaber was named as president-designate of this year’s UN climate summit, COP28, scheduled to take place November 30 – December 12 in Dubai. Al Jaber is the UAE’s special envoy for climate change and also serves as the country’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology. He is the founder and CEO of a renewable energy firm called Masdar. But it is his role as the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), one of the largest oil and gas producers in the world, that is sparking condemnation and conflict of interest allegations...


Even pretending to still call this thing a 'climate change conference' is beyond double-speak.


Saturday, January 14, 2023

59th Street Bridge Song (P. Simon Cover)...


A few years ago Mr. Simon got together with Stephen Colbert and joked around about how much he hates this tune.

It turns out that Simon really does hate it, so much so that during his recent 'farewell' tour he forced himself to play it in Portland as a self-imposed fine after he flubbed a lyric during the show the night before in Seattle.

Personally, when I was a kid I found 59th St/Feeling Groovy to be a nice pleasant break from all those other 'serious' Simon and Garfunkel songs...

Interestingly, Simon made a whack of extra dough from the song when he successfully sued the producers of the HR Pufnstuf TeeVee show for ripping off his tune in their theme song.
Why does Simon hate the tune?...I reckon it might have something to do with the fact that it cuts a little too close to his now long-buried Brill Building and teen idol(ish) Tom and Jerry days.


Friday, January 13, 2023

Doing That Thing You (Can't) Do (Virtually).


Well, here's is something interesting in our privatized, rush to the bottom of just about everything.

Including visits to the doctor that aren't.

People who used a virtual-only medical service — a kind of virtual walk-in clinic — during the pandemic were more likely to later go to an emergency room than patients who did appointments with their own family doctor online, a study by Toronto researchers has shown.

The study published Thursday in the Journal of Medical Internet Research explores the different outcomes between two kinds of virtual medical care during the pandemic — that given by walk-in-style clinics and that given by family doctors.

Conducted by the University Health Network, ICES, Women’s College Hospital and Unity Health Toronto, the study found that the patients who saw a physician who was not their family doctor through a virtual-only medical service were twice as likely to visit an emergency department within 30 days...


What's the deal?

Well, it turns out the difference is what is NOT done virtually:

...The study showed that patients who had a virtual-only walk-in appointment often had a virtual followup and then ended up in emergency, in contrast to patients who had a virtual appointment with their family doctor and then could have an in-person followup, possibly avoiding a hospital visit because they were able to have a physical exam.

The “concern with virtual walk-in clinics is the lack of a physical exam,” says Lapointe-Shaw...

Take that Chatbot-GTP-Turbo-Deluxe-Fakes-Better-Than-Memorex or whatever the heck fire we will next be told will take the place of actual, real things...

image and somewhat lame sub-header?...This.
The story cited, above, was written by Patty Winsa and published in the Toronto Star yesterday.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Coalition Of The (Very) Willing


Robert Reich, who first served in the US'ian presidential administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter before he became Bill Clinton's Labour Secretary, knows of what he speaks:

The two parts of the Republican Party — the MAGA cultural warriors and the economic oligarchs — need each other. 

The oligarchy — billionaires, top CEOs, and moguls of Wall Street — wants lower taxes (which requires less government spending) and fewer regulations. Most basically, it wants to continue to siphon off more of the economy’s total gains.

To do so, it needs the MAGA cultural warriors to keep America divided over non-economic issues (abortion, gay rights, immigration, voting rights, religious freedom) so most Americans won’t look up and see where all the money has gone.

And the MAGA warriors need the oligarchy’s money for their campaigns. 

This was the coalition and the strategy Trump relied on. The oligarchy financed Trump Republicans. In return, the oligarchs got lower taxes and regulatory rollbacks, while Trump and his MAGAs distracted the public with culture wars and warriors...

And who else needs this 'coalition'?

I would suggest it is the US'ian corpMedia outlets, especially the cable news versions, to ensure that all that oligarchy campaign money, in the form of never ending ad buys, keeps on rolling in. Not to mention all the eyeballs, hits and ratings they garner while they 'cover' the spectacle. 

And, to be absolutely clear here, we're not just talking about Fox News.

To wit, the following historical snippet from March of 2021:
  • CNN had record-breaking viewership during the finals months of Trump's presidency (in late 2020).
  • There has been a dramatic decline in ratings since Inauguration Day (in January 2021), according to new research.
  • CNN has lost 36% of its primetime viewers since January 21 (2021), the Nielsen Media Research data said.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Do The Ends Ever Justify These Means?


I am becoming more and more convinced that one of the most corrosive aspects of social media, especially the algorithmic and/or viral aspects of the thing, is that it often helps push folks over the line into 'the ends justify any means' territory.

To wit, what happened to a CTV Edmonton reporter recently.

First, there was the initial story, which was an on-air health scare:

Canadian TV news reporter Jessica Robb says there's "no cause for concern" following her on-screen medical drama on Sunday.

In a statement posted by CTV Edmonton on Twitter, Robb addressed the live TV incident that saw her stumble over her words and say "I'm not feeling well" to CTV anchor Nahreman Issa.

Robb then appeared to faint and move toward the camera until the live feed was cut.

"We will come back to you," Issa said as the news report ended. "Right now, we will make sure that Jessica is doing okay and we will give you guys an update a little bit later."...

As the lede to the piece above makes clear, which was written up in, of all things, People magazine, Ms. Robb recovered and is fine, at least in terms of the health scare itself.

However, what is most definitely not fine was the response from folks who clearly stepped over the line as is outlined in this release from CTV Edmonton itself:

Which, of course, is awful on every level.

However, here's the thing.

No one, regardless which 'side' they're on, is immune from engaging in at least some aspects of this kind of behaviour, particularly if they feel their cause is righteous enough and when they know that the algorithm and virality are both right there to help them push said cause.

More on that in a future post...


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Set The Relics Free!


Having witnessed the king tide-driven driftwood/log boom escape carnage, up close and personal, out at Iona Point over the last few weeks, I reckon Mr. Hume has a point:


Imagine what would happen if the new Eby government were to re-boot the Beachcombers, for real, and set up a program whereby thousands of Relics swarmed our beaches and cleaned up all the drift for a pegged fibre price.

Imagine the jobs!

Imagine the beautiful foreshore!

Imagine the homegrown electric outboard motor industry that could be kick-started!

the good Mr. Shaw figures Mr. Eby hasn't done enough because he's done too much too fast in his first 50 days...And besides, the things Eby has already done are not the things he hasn't yet done...Or some such thing.


Monday, January 09, 2023

What The Financial Post and Postmedia Did Not Tell Its Readers Last Friday.


On Friday January 6, 2023 the Financial Post published an OpEd in defense of Dr. Jordan Peterson that was written by Howard Levitt in the wake of a ruling against the good doctor by the Ontario College of Psychologists.

Here is Mr. Levitt's lede:

Given how hard Jordan Peterson has worked (and continues to work), it is difficult to attribute his phenomenal successes to simple good fortune. But, sometimes, even he can just get lucky.

As a result of the most boneheaded unforced error I have ever seen, the Ontario College of Psychologists is about to propel his already ascendant career into meteoric orbit.

The College has just ordered Peterson to attend a Maoist style, compulsory social media re-education program at a cost to him of $225 per hour, such sessions to continue until these paid “educators” determine that he is sufficiently penitent. His refusal to participate — and of course he has refused — will lead to a public disciplinary hearing and potential cancellation of his professional license as a psychologist...

And here is how Mr. Levitt's closes his piece:

...Peterson’s is an important fight. His failure would leave many vulnerable to attacks on their employment by third party letters to their professional bodies or even to their employers by leftists (today, tomorrow who knows what political views will be ascendant) with opposing views claiming that they have put their profession into disrepute, (which is an actual offense under Law Society rules). I had one such complaint for a previous column when I referred to a decision of a privacy commissioner as boneheaded, for which I was informally cautioned. Such weaponization of political opinions must be stopped in its tracks. Peterson is just the person to do it...

And here is what the Financial Post told its readers about Mr. Levitt in the afterward to the OpEd:

Howard Levitt is senior partner of Levitt Sheikh, employment and labour lawyers with offices in Toronto and Hamilton. He practices employment law in eight provinces. He is the author of six books including the Law of Dismissal in Canada.

Which is all fine and good as far as it goes.

Based on that, any reasonable reader could conclude that Mr. Levitt is a lawyer who is of the personally held opinion that Dr. Peterson's fight against the College of Ontario Psychologists is a righteous one*.


Here is what the Financial Post did not tell its readers:

Imagine that!

And, it would appear,
a righteous fight against leftists everywhere as well based on the rhetoric used repeatedly in the piece (i.e. not just in the lede and the kicker as noted here).
Independent, Jesse Brown-free, confirmation of Mr. Levitt's having acted as Mr. Peterson's lawyer in the past can be found...Here.


Sunday, January 08, 2023

Never Trumper, Canadian Style?

According to Konrad Yakabuski in the Globe and (no longer Empire) Mail, former CPC leader Erin O'Toole wants to see red meat right-sided reactionaryionism toned down in 2023:

Former federal Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole spoke for many Canadians distressed at the increasing nastiness of our political discourse in tweeting a desire to see fewer “profanity-laden Trudeau flags” hoisted across the country in 2023. He was spot on in warning that these banners attacking Prime Minster Justin Trudeau “and the hyperaggressive rhetoric that often accompanies them are slowly normalizing rage and damaging our democracy.”...


Just like all those right-sided Never Trumpers down south, who themselves first built the myoglobin-smeared glass house that is the modern Republican party before jumping ship when the Donald pulled their meal tickets, Mr. O'Toole, too, did his part to get the reactionaries riled in the name of political expediency back when he had real, actual skin in the game:

...Mr. O’Toole ran for his party’s leadership in 2021 by promising to “take back Canada.” The slogan implied that conservatives had been dispossessed of their own country by a Liberal government that was pursuing a leftist agenda. It sought to stoke indignation and anger in just enough new and old Tories to win the leadership under rules that gave disproportionate weighting to low-membership ridings...

And then there were the stunts like the 'Trudeau's outhouse video' noted at the top of the post.


When Mr. O'Toole is ready to make like Stuart Stevens and come clean about his active role in putting his party and the Canuckistanian conservative movement on the flaming highway to h-e-double-toothpicks I'll be happy to start paying attention to anything else he has to say.

Because anything less is just hypocritical, flack hackery-driven damage control and/or a state(r)gy designed to get himself a permanent seat on a Power and Politics panel.


Stuart Stevens
you may be asking?...Driftglass explains. 
And it's not just rehabilitating seats on TeeVee shows these suddenly reasonable right wingers are looking for...There is also the grift aspect of the thing...Case in point is 'The Lincoln Project' that is run by some of the dirtiest tricksters that ever ran a US Republican political campaign raised $87 million, plus, during the 2020 presidential election cycle.


Friday, January 06, 2023

Would Kevin McCarthy Willingly Sell-Out Ukraine To Bang A Gavel?


From Roxana Tiron et al. of Bloomberg News:

The emerging deal Kevin McCarthy is discussing to make him speaker of the House would propose a roughly $75 billion cut in defense spending at a time when the US is intent on backing Ukraine against the Russian invasion and grows more wary of China’s stepped up aggression toward Taiwan...


...Some holdouts against McCarthy such as Rep. Matt Gaetz are also fierce opponents of continued military assistance for Ukraine, and have threatened to try to block additional aid...

Meanwhile, he was thinking (allegedly):

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) voted for former President Trump for Speaker of the House on Thursday, as the chamber held its seventh vote in three days in an attempt to elect a Speaker...

And how many votes did Mr. Trump ultimately receive?

You guessed it...


Why Giving Anti-Vaxxers No Quarter Matters.


Some of you all have likely become a little tired of me going on and on (and on) about how scurrilous and, frankly, gutless anti-vaxxers immediately began to use weasel words, sans evidence, to infer that the Covid vaccine had something to do with the sudden cardiac arrest that a professional football suffered on the field on Monday night.

After all, you are probably muttering to yourself, why not just ignore these loons until they go away?

Well, there are serious consequences for public health when their codswallop is wurlitzered around the web, not to mention the wider world, as Mike Wending and Rachel Schraer explain in their piece for the BBC:

...Research by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a non-profit campaign group based in London and Washington, found that mentions of an anti-vaccine film quadrupled after the player's collapse.

CCDH chief executive Imran Ahmed said activists were "cynically exploiting tragedy to baselessly connect any injury or death of a notable person to vaccinations".

The day after the match the documentary Died Suddenly, which was released in November last year, was mentioned nearly 17,000 times, the CCDH says. The BBC previously looked into the claims in the film and found little or no evidence behind many of them.

Caroline Orr Bueno, a researcher on misinformation who has spent a decade looking at the anti-vaccination movement, says the film gave rise to communities of people across several social media platforms primed to hunt for news events to back up their views.

"They believe the anti-vaccine rhetoric that they are seeing," she says, "and they are joining in out of genuine concern without necessarily knowing that they're being misled."...

But, still, you may be starting to shout...This, too, is just a bunch of loons and the mis-led lemmings who follow them, right?

Well, where large flocks of loons and massive slices of lemmings congregate the political hucksters and their stooges soon swoop in and, in the worst case scenario, enact truly harmful policies to capitalize on the lunacy.

Jack Stripling has that story in the Washington Post:

...Joseph A. Ladapo, a professor of medicine at the University of Florida and the state’s surgeon general (appointed by governor Ron De Santis), relied upon a flawed analysis and may have violated university research integrity rules when he issued guidance last fall discouraging young men from receiving common coronavirus vaccines, according to a report from a medical school faculty task force. But the university says it has no plans to investigate the matter.

Ladapo recommended in October that men younger than 40 not take mRNA vaccinations for Covid, pointing to an “abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death.” Doctors and public health officials swiftly pounced, dismissing the underlying research for its small sample size, lack of detail and shaky methodology.

In its new report, a task force of the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Faculty Council cites numerous deficiencies in the analysis Ladapo used to justify his vaccine recommendation. A summary said the work was “seriously flawed.” The report’s authors say Ladapo engaged in “careless, irregular, or contentious research practices.”



Thursday, January 05, 2023

Have I Mentioned Recently That...


....John Samson Fellows is a genius.


BTW, pitchers and catchers report in six weeks...Hopefully by then we'll all have followed JSF's advice and gone outside, at least once or twice, to organize something better, or beautiful, or both.
Again, if you want to learn a little more about what the Fellows/Samson artistic empire is up to these days go listen to...This.
Finally, if all this has you hankering for the Weakerthans firing on all cylinders, this show, circa 2007, from Berlin, is all killer no filler...


Another One...

My apologies for going on about this (see recent posts), but...

When you watch for them, you can see these people everywhere, doing their best to destroy the social fabric.

And for what?


I told you so Lulz, sans evidence?

Owning the libs?

It's unfathomable to me, particularly if any of it contributes to a single person not taking precautions against infectious disease, including getting vaccinated against COVID, or the flu, or papilloma viruses, or the measles, or polio, etcetera.

By the way, the 'commotio cordis' that was mentioned by the first commenter in the tweet above (who is a physician specialist in internal medicine) in the context of a football player whose heart stopped suddenly after he received a forceful blow to the chest, is:

... a phenomenon in which a sudden blunt impact to the chest causes sudden death in the absence of cardiac damage. This condition was first described in the middle of the 18th century in the context of chest trauma among workers...


Wednesday, January 04, 2023

When In Doubt Call Them Witch Doctors.

Yesterday we noted that some of the world's worst people had immediately started wurlitzering the rumour, in the complete absence of any supporting evidence whatsoever, that the COVID-19 vaccine contributed to the sudden cardiac arrest that was suffered by a professional football player on the field Monday night.


How did one of the wranglers of some of the worst people in the world, a very finest of the fine fellow named Mr. Tucker Carlson, respond?

Why, of course, by further pushing the baseless rumour envelope while simultaneously smearing anyone who rightfully tried to tear that envelope into tiny pieces before it becomes a talking point on the Sunday shows and legitimate OpEd pages everywhere.

...On his programme that night (Tuesday January 3), Fox News personality Tucker Carlson falsely stated that (Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar) Hamlin endured a “heart attack” and said medical experts who dismissed Covid-19-related conspiracy theories are “lying” and “witch doctors”.

He (Carlson) continued: “Hamlin was lying on the field receiving CPR when self-described medical experts in the media, people with no demonstrated medical ethics at all, effectively witch doctors, decided to use his tragic life-threatening injuries [as] an opportunity to spread still more propaganda about the Covid shots. ‘It could not have been the shot,’ they told you. ‘Shut up.’ They’re lying. They don’t know anything more than we know, which is effectively nothing.”...

Shut up, indeed.

Meanwhile, the fellow in the video at the top of the post, Garret Bush, speaks truth to the billionaires about the least they should be doing for the young kids who put their bodies at risk every time they step on the field.


Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Tuesday Notes...Who Are Those Guys?


Three things up front...

First, the Duo City couple, who have been doing a fantastic job of true civic blogging covering the Lotusland development beat, mostly by covering public consultation meetings, have plans to expand their offerings in 2023. That is great news given that the CoV appears to be, knowingly or not, squelching public discussion of development plans by moving most consultation gatherings online. Personally, I'm very much looking forward to Hannah and Darren's reportage, comments and thoughts on the proposals that are starting to come through the pipeline based on the 'Secured Rental Policy'.

Second, a new (to me) podcast called Kreative Kontrol by a guy named Vish Kanna, who is based in Edmonton by way of Guelph...It's a long form interview format that is kind of like Q if Q was actually good...This morning on the ride in to work I listened to a recent episode with Christine Fellows (the two E's will like this one for all kinds of reasons, including 'Heavyweight' and the fact that the Fellows/Samson cat Virtute is imaginary!)... I've got the latest Steve Albini episode queued up for the ride home (can't wait)....Chances of supporting on Patreon...8.5/10.

Third, depending on whether or not you are sports fanatical or not, you may or may not know that professional American football player named Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during a game between Buffalo and Cincinnati last night after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest...Mr. Hamlin's heartbeat was restored on the field but he remains in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital....Which is a terrible and tragic story, in and of itself...But the story has been made even worse by some of the worst people in the world who immediatelystarted insinuating, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever, that it was Covid vaccination was a contributing...Meanwhile, the good Mr. Musk has signaled that he is all set to further wurlitzer the wrath of the worst people in the world with the coming release of the 'Fauci Files'.

OK, so, to the matter at hand...

Just who are those guys pictured, above, at the top of the post?

Why that is Southern California's first Latino DIY punk band 'Plugz' who were plucked from relative 
decline of the western civilization obscurity by Bob Dylan, thanks to Dylan's then teenage kids and/or the fact that the band's drummer's girlfriend was Bob's tour manager's secretary.

This happened when Bob had the boys back him for his first appearance on Letterman.

I referenced this appearance earlier this week when I posted their raucous version of the then just released 'Jokerman' on the show in 1984.

When the time came they did the tune in super-sloppy triple time with a clearly ecstatic Dylan going berserk during the closing harmonica solo despite the fact that the instrument he had been handed was in the wrong key.

So, what became of it all?

...After the show, Dylan and the band hung out backstage, talking with (fellow Letterman guest) Liberace and having their photos taken by Rolling Stone until Dylan left, explaining he was due at a Knicks game with Keith Richards. (Guitar player J.J.) Holiday says, “Dylan told us he would call us on Monday.” The call never came. “Whenever (bass player) Tony (Marco) and I see each other,” Holiday continues, “we always joke, ‘Did you get that call yet?’”...


Despite how much fun Mr. Dylan clearly had during that Letterman appearance, clearly Plugz weren't quite Ronnie's Hawks.

Or some such thing.

Tip 'O The Toque to longtime reader e.a.f. for putting the burr under the Plugz/Jokerman saddle...


Monday, January 02, 2023

They're Back.

C. and I first saw John Carney's low budget Irish ode to the Busker's life, the movie 'Once', in the Park theatre on Cambie Street one warm summer evening in 2007.

I can't even remember why we went, probably something I read somewhere.

Regardless the reasoning, I was immediately flummoxed by the thing, mostly because it was a musical where the story literally was the songs, and the making and playing thereof wherever and/or whenever.

Within days I was a wannabe, something akin to the 'banker' in the movie that the protagonists, the 'Guy' and the 'Girl', bamboozle into lending them money to record their songs.

Since then the folks that played the 'Boy' and the 'Girl' in the movie, who had a really good run of their own, both on streets and on stages the world over, have gone their separate ways.

But they came back together to sing the Oscar winning tune from the movie this past holiday season, as shown above.


Meanwhile, here is what the wannabe/banker talked his oldest kid, who was then and is even more now the real thing, into doing almost 12 years ago to the day...


And, yes, that most certainly is the Whackdoodle I roaming around underfoot, above.


Crapperman Dance To The Lavatory's Tune.

Freedom just around the corner for you
But with truth so far off, what good will it do?

Thanks to his firing of all the moderators that resulted in many fortuneish companies of the 500 variety finding their paid missives pasted into the feeds of white nationalists and racists, not to mention those paid-for-blue-check shenanigans gone bad, the freedom-loving febrile genius that now owns Twitter has apparently lost billions of dollars in advertising revenue over the past few months.

And how, you may (or may not) be asking yourself, is the genius dealing with this predicament of his own making?


It would appear that he is forcing his remaining employees pay for their own toilet paper...

...Twitter is said to have stopped paying rent at its Seattle office, leading it to face eviction. Janitorial and security services have been cut, and in some cases employees have resorted to bringing their own toilet paper to the office...


How's that for a simple, if potentially smelly, twist of fate?

Speaking of Jokermen,
there is an excellent podcast about Dylan's post motorcycle crash catalogue by a couple of interesting obsessives that also have a fascination for Lou Reed and John Cale...You can get to it...Here.