Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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



SlashAndBurnReturn
ListenToYourselfChurnVille


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...

{snip}

...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...


So.

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.

OK?


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


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Monday, February 27, 2023

Cassiopeia (Reina Del Cid Cover)


50Mission
StarsVille


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.

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Sunday, February 26, 2023

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


TheHumanCostOf
AlgorithmChasingVille


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:




Now.

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.

OK?


____
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...

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Friday, February 24, 2023

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


Link
HoppingVille



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

But.

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.


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Thursday, February 23, 2023

Clean Streets.



NotScorsese
1973Ville



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.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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


OnlyMobsters
PleadVille


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.


_____
Subheader?...This.


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Local Conservative Is Shocked!


LincolnProjectNorth
BootUpVille


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!




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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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



RegulateNothing
EnforceEvenLessVille



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.



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Monday, February 20, 2023

Joe Biden: Palling Around With Democratic Socialists.



WeHaveBeenCursedByTheReignOfGoldFor
LongEnoughVille


In response to Joe Biden's rousing roundhouse rhetoric during his recent State of The Union speech that bamboozled the oligarchical lapdogs of the crazy crackers caucus into swearing fealty to social security, Rupert Murdoch's higher brow beater of a news organ, the Wall Street Journal, went deep into the back catalogue of so-called smears in an op-ed from Fox News contributor Daniel Henninger titled 'Joe Biden Is Bernie Sanders':

President Biden’s State of the Union speech was an overdue act of transparency. When Mr. Biden finally announces his re-election bid, he will be running as a democratic socialist. That is the clear takeaway from the more than 70 minutes Mr. Biden spent describing his plans to push federal spending and mandates into every nook of American life...


Ya, sure, but, really, so what?

After all, Uncle Bernie is no Saul Alinsky. However, he is doing his darnedest to follow in the footsteps of Eugene Debs, the legendary trade unionist and socialist who was the subject of a documentary Sanders made back in the days before first became the mayor of Burlington Vermont, a race he won by a whopping 10 votes in 1981.

But here's the thing about the modern day Mr. Sanders.

Progressive purity tests mean nothing to him because he's a pragmatist who didn't sulk when he lost to Biden in the 2020 presidential primary.

Instead, he rolled up to sleeves, heaved his hard earned leverage onto the Senate floor, and got to work. And now he's been given carte blanche to call the oligarchs to account, as noted by Tim Adams in the Guardian yesterday:

...Sanders has just become chair of the Senate health, education, labour and pensions committee. He clearly intends to use that office not only to pursue his primary long-term aim – Medicare for all – but to create some proper political theatre along the way. His opening acts have seen him request the presence before the committee of St├ęphane Bancel, the chief executive of Moderna, who Sanders argues “has become a multibillionaire” by creating a coronavirus vaccine with government money. Calls have also gone out to Howard Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, to address his “union-busting” policies and their relation to his staggering personal fortune. Jeff Bezos, of Amazon, a long-term bete noire of Sanders, should also look out for an invitation. Expect TV ratings of Senate hearings to soar...


And if Biden runs for president again in 2024?

Well, Sanders is pragmatic in that regard also because he knows he can push the Overton window left by continuing to work with Delaware Joe:

...“I think what’s going to happen,” he (Sanders) says, “is that President Biden is going to run for re-election. And if he does, I will support him.”...


Imagine that!


.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

The Dominion Filing...Fox And (All Their Very Good) Friends, v1.


AllTheirKraken'R
ThemVille


Sure you've heard the headlines and the quips and clips, but what, exactly, is in the Dominion Voting Machines defamation filing against Fox News that was made public on Thursday, February 16, 2023?

Here, in volume 1, we go directly to the section on Mr. Sean Hannity:

...On November 30 (2020), (Sean) Hannity provided (Kraken Lady and Trump/Giuliani-aligned lawyer Sidney) Powell with a platform on his show to repeat the same fraud and algorithm lies about Dominion that she had told over and over on Fox in the month of November... 

{snip}

...Hannity knew Powell's claims were false. He testified that, with respect to "that whole narrative that Sidney [Powell] was pushing, I did not believe it for one second."...

{snip}

....(W)hen Powell appeared on his November 30 show, he (Hannity) believed that it was "obvious" her allegations were false...

{snip}

...(W)hen Powell came on his (i.e. Hannity's) radio program prior to the November 30 television broadcast and could not provide her claimed "eyewitnesses" that "was the nail in the coffin for me" (Hannity said)...

{snip}

...(Hannity referred to) Powell's claims about (Dominion's links to the by then already long dead Hugo Chavez and) "Venezuela" as "crazy stuff"...

{snip}

....Hannity texted that Powell was a "F'ing lunatic"...


Recall, if you will, that November 30, 2020 was just six weeks before January 6, 2021.

And, regarding that specific date, there is also the following from the Dominion filing:

... Hannity had told his audience on November 11 (i.e. a few days after the 2020 US'ian presidential election) that the hand recount in (the state of) Georgia would be critical regarding the questions about Dominion. By November 30, the hand recount had been completed and proved Dominion's machines worked properly and did not flip votes in Georgia. Yet Hannity still invited Powell on his show (on November 30) and chose to broadcast her lies. He said nothing about the results of the Georgia hand recount...


Sheesh.


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Friday, February 17, 2023

Bernie Sanders Makes Sure Covid Vaccines Won't Become Luxury Items For US'ians.


MrSanders'
NeighbourhoodVille



A few weeks ago, we noted that Moderna was getting ready to jack the price of their public dollar-built mRNA-based COVID vaccines into the stratosphere:

...Moderna’s announcement early this month that it would consider a price hike on the vaccine was inevitable. Pfizer and BioNTech had made a similar announcement last October. But Moderna’s proposed quadrupling of the price—from the current $26 per dose to between $110 and $130 per dose—is a stunning 4,000 percent increase from its manufacturing cost of $2.85 per dose...


Well...

It turns out that Bernie Sanders who, thanks to the Democratic gains in the US Senate last November, now has the power to compel the fine folks that run Moderna to explain themselves:

...Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions .... called on Moderna Chief Executive St├ęphane Bancel to testify before Congress on a proposed price increase for the vaccine...


And what then happened, before the Moderna chief even testified?

The following:

Moderna Inc. will keep its COVID-19 vaccines available and free of charge for all people in the U.S. after the public-health emergency ends, the company said late Wednesday...


Imagine that.

A pol righteously and unequivocally calls a public money gobbling corporation on its BS and the latter immediately backs down.

Would'a thunk it.


______
Of course,
this most recent announcement by Moderna only covers the American market...As for the rest of us?...We'll have to wait and see, particularly if our pols decide to instead acquiesce to the flack hackery of lobbyists and sit on their hands...


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Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Falcon Or The Ostrich?


NevermindAllThoseHistoricalBarbariansAtThe
GatesOfTheWestVille


The Lotuslandian political party with the nonsensical name just watched one of its climate change denying members take a walk over to the wild side:

Former longtime B.C. Liberal MLA John Rustad has crossed the floor to join the B.C. Conservatives, becoming the latter party's only elected member months after he was tossed from his old caucus.

Rustad, who represents Nechako Lakes in northern B.C. west of Prince George, made the announcement on Thursday...


And how did the (fairly) newly minted leader of the BC Liberal Party, a guy who is always ready to run with a low road running, right wing trope-assisted, smear when the politically expedient time is right, respond?

Well...



BC'ers don't think of themselves as left or right wing?

Sure thing Mr. Falcon.

Sheesh.


_____
Image at the top of the post?....From a great blog post by Rod Mickleburgh from a few years ago in which he waxes poetic on the super fine first summer of Dave Barrett's Barbarians in 1972...My only question about the photo is why, exactly, does it appear that Jack Webster is getting ready to pop Davey a short right?
Earworm in the second line of the subheader?....This!
Tip 'O the Toque to reader Bob F. for the heads-up as I would have missed this given that the good Mr. Shaw has long blocked me from his Twittmachine feed...


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Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Algorithmic Curtain.


MultiplyThis
NoRealPowerVille



If you watched the Super Bowl on the TeeVee last weekend, whether for the game, the halftime show, or the commercials, you likely saw Mr. Musk thumbing his nose at all the libs who buy his cars as he sat with Rupert Murdoch in a superbox high above the Arizona desert.

What you may not have noticed was the fact that Mr. Musk was also busy on his phone engaging the twittmachine.

Next came the 'analytics' from Mr. Musk's own company which indicated that Mr. Musk's tweets got considerably less attention than those of US'ian president Joe Biden.

Zoe Schiffer and Casey Newton, writing on their tech-focused substack 'Platformer', explain what happened next:

...Biden’s tweet, in which he said he would be supporting his wife in rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles, generated nearly 29 million impressions. Musk, who also tweeted his support for the Eagles, generated a little more than 9.1 million impressions before deleting the tweet in apparent frustration.

In the wake of those losses — the Eagles to the Kansas City Chiefs, and Musk to the president of the United States — Twitter’s CEO flew his private jet back to the Bay Area on Sunday night to demand answers from his team.

Within a day, the consequences of that meeting would reverberate around the world, as Twitter users opened the app to find that Musk’s posts overwhelmed their ranked timeline. This was no accident, Platformer can confirm: after Musk threatened to fire his remaining engineers, they built a system designed to ensure that Musk — and Musk alone — benefits from previously unheard-of promotion of his tweets to the entire user base...


So.

What did Mr. Musk's minions do at his behest?

Well...

...By Monday afternoon, “the problem” had been “fixed.” Twitter deployed code to automatically “greenlight” all of Musk’s tweets, meaning his tweets will bypass Twitter’s filters designed to show people the best content possible. The algorithm now artificially boosted Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000 – a constant score that ensured his tweets rank higher than anyone else’s in the feed.

Internally, this is called a “power user multiplier,” although it only applies to Elon Musk, we’re told. The code also allows Musk’s account to bypass Twitter heuristics that would otherwise prevent a single account from flooding the core ranked feed, now known as “For You.”

That explains why people opening the app Monday found that Musk dominated the feed, with a dozen or more Musk tweets and replies visible to anyone who followed him and millions more who did not. Over 90 percent of Musk’s followers now see his tweets, according to one internal estimate...


In other words, the man behind the curtain is now faking literally everything, analytics-wise, via algorithm fixing.

Meanwhile, the wily old coyote....errrr...Mr. Biden just keeps on keeping' on when it comes to taking the highroad.

On Mr. Musk's very own network:



Imagine that!


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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Where Have All The Bean Counters Gone?



AllOurAccountantsAreNotActually
OursVille



Awhile back we noted that Mr. Trudeau's feds have spent a whole lot of money (i.e. about $100,000,000) to hire a global consulting firm called McKinsey & Co., chiefly to assist 'us' (i.e. as opposed to Mr. Trump's Icemen) with immigration matters.

As you might imagine this type of thing is happening pretty much everywhere.

Case in point, Norm Farrell, as only he can, has dug into the public accounts to determine how much our provincial government has spent bringing in outside accountants in the last five years.

The number is staggering:



It's hard not to conclude that this kind of stuff is signaling a wholesale privatization of all aspects of the public service pretty much everywhere.

But is it better?

Norm provides evidence, examples and opinionated which strongly suggests that it is not.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

OMG!, 4th Edition...We Can Gag You Now And We Can Gag You Later.


Ain'tThatTenCentsWorthAsMuchTo
UsVille


I don't know about you but I sure have been wondering why we have heard so little from the journalists that were suddenly fired from Overstory Media Group's flagship news outlet 'Capital (Victoria) Daily' the day before they and their compatriots announced that they were planning to unionize.

Well...

It looks like Ethan Cox, writing in Ricochet, can likely explain the 'on-the-record' silence:

"...Many OMG employees signed non-disclosure agreements prior to joining the company, and those that were fired were required to sign new “non-disparagement” agreements in order to receive their severance payments. In this context, sources have requested anonymity in this reporting due to fear of retaliation..."


Now.

You might argue that the young journos concerned should, and could, have thumbed their noses at the gag-a-phonic severances.

However, it's important to remember that they were all left high and dry with few immediate prospects.

As for the tech-bro and the former hivester running the company?

Not so much.

_______
More to come...Including a comment on the softballing of the story by Canadaland.
Image and sub-header?...This.



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Monday, February 13, 2023

Once Lost But Now Found.


NeitherWhiskeyNorRye
FoundWeekendVille



Over the last thirty years I've spent many weekends that, while they were not entirely lost, were often lost opportunities.

Not lost opportunities to get data analyzed, lectures prepared, or work done.

But instead lost opportunities to do things with friends and, especially, family.

This weekend, just passed, I did my best to make sure that didn't happen.


****

Early Friday afternoon I closed the box, stuck it in my pack, and took off on my bike for Bridgeport to catch the 620 bus to Tsawwassen.

One hour and thirty-five minutes later I rode off the lower car deck of the no fun/no autobahn krautrock ferry at Swartz Bay and started my ride into Victoria on the Lochside trail before swinging right at Reynolds School to head west on the Galloping Goose trail almost, but not quite to Horganland (i.e. Colwood).

Which meant that forty kilometres and a little over two hours later I was in my Dad's kitchen briefly making like Ray Milland in Billy Wilder's classic noir, downing two beers in quick succession with a back porch grilled steak sandwiched in-between.

Saturday, littler e., who is going to school at UVIC, spent the day with us on a project that didn't quite work out in the end.

But that didn't really matter because the fun was all in the doing and for dinner that night it was the traditional fish 'n chips from Salty's on Goldstream followed by the watching one from the PVR'ed Jeopardy bank, this despite the fact that the true slayer of the answers offered up by Ken Jennings is actually Bigger E. who was not with us this time.

Sunday morning I reversed the journey, apparently being spotted by my brother where the Goose crosses Saanich Rd just feet from where we used to play at our own Grandmother's house fifty years ago. 

In the end, I was back home tucked away in the subterranean homesick blues room just in time to watch the second half of the big bowl of commercials, the end of which was one big fizzle courtesy a phantom call that messed up what was otherwise a pretty interesting game.

Regardless, ten years from now I'm pretty sure I'll remember the bike ride, the waiting steak, and the fun with my youngest kid and her Grandpops a whole lot more than those Phila Eagles' fourth down wedge runs or the buckets of local anaesthetic that were used to free(ze) up the KC Chiefs' quarterback's high ankle sprain.

OK?


______
And speaking of whiskey and rye, why, exactly, did Don Maclean have the good old boy's drinking both rather than the one and the same anyway?


.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

What Do These Four Books Have In Common?


FloridaManLightsHisFires
FarenheitVille



As you have probably already guessed...

These are just four of the 176 books that were removed from classroom bookshelves in Duval County Florida early last year thanks to governor Ron De Santis' bill that bars pornography and 'age inappropriate' material in schools.

So, given all that...

How are teachers dealing with this 'situation' in the Sunshine state?

Well, it would appear they've taken to hiding books in an attempt to avoid potential five year jail terms.

And, as you might expect, Donald Trump has decided he must attempt to one-up the Florida governor, who is his  potential Republican presidential rival in the 2024 primaries:

...Donald Trump flung out his own culture-war red meat in a video last week, calling on schools to certify only “patriotic teachers”...


After all, when banning and burning books is not enough, some group has to be singled out, shamed, or worse.


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Wednesday, February 08, 2023

The Things That Make Us Stupider...


MayTheFourthBeWithYou
DimensionVille


From Evan Scrimshaw's latest:

...(W)e have too many people who aren’t working at any form of singular purpose – we have too many reporters working as pundits, too many pundits pretending to be forecasters, and too many people who end up not being particularly good at either. What we need is a media that covers electoral impacts and policy impacts separately, and doesn’t treat “this is bad but voters don’t care” as salient analysis. Those are two separate and distinct thoughts that deserve to be treated separately, but too much of our media doesn’t.

 And it’s making us all stupider...


I think Mr. Scrimshaw has a point.

After all, how many times have you read/heard/seen a piece wherein the pundit tells you that a policy proposal by a local/provincial/national government is important and in the next breath tells you that the policy proposal is irrelevant because a significant chunk of the public doesn't like the sounds of said policy.

As a result of this behaviour, which is repeated over and over and over again, we very often do not do those things that will help us all in the future because of some stupid poll taken today.

Which, of course, really is stupid.


_______
Somebody really ought to write a sci-fi story about a sharp young kid who builds a time machine, not to travel forward to meet the Eloi or scribble down winning lottery ticket numbers, but instead to come back with poll numbers from the future that make it clear that 98% of the public in 2062 loves the fact that the universal basic income plan implemented by prime minister Autumn Peltier in the spring of 2058 almost completely eliminated poverty while it simultaneously boosted the sustainable GDP-free economy...Or some such thing.


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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The Weakness Of The Democratic Party's Presidential Bench...


PoliticalPunditryIsNotProFootball
StateOfTheUnionVille


I usually have a lot of time for the writing of Michelle Goldberg, who is a regular OpEd columnist for the New York Times.

Her latest piece, published in the lead-up to this evening's 'State of the Union' address first extolls the numerous successes of the current US'ian president, Joe Biden:

...(Biden's) presided over record job creation and the lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years. Whereas Donald Trump’s infrastructure weeks were a running joke, Biden signed the largest infusion of federal funds into infrastructure in more than a decade. His Inflation Reduction Act made a historic investment in clean energy; the head of the International Energy Agency called it the most important climate action since the 2015 Paris climate accord. (And incidentally, inflation is finally coming down.) Biden rallied Western nations to support Ukraine against Russia’s imperialist invasion and ended America’s long, fruitless war in Afghanistan, albeit with an ugly and ignominious exit. His administration capped insulin prices for seniors, codified federal recognition of gay marriage and shot down that spy balloon everyone was freaking out about. He’s on track to appoint more federal judges than Trump...

 {snip}

 ...In other words, Biden has been a great president. He’s made good on an uncommon number of campaign promises. He should be celebrated on Tuesday...


Ms. Goldberg then pivots to the latest obsession of the chattering classes of the Acela corridor:

...Biden has been a great president. He’s made good on an uncommon number of campaign promises. He should be celebrated on Tuesday. But he should not run again...

And what, you might be wondering, will the Democrats do if Mr. Biden is jettisoned?

Well, according to Ms. Goldberg, all will be fine given that the party has a deep bench that will serve up a shiny new quarterback to lead them to promised land in 2024:

...Democrats have a deep bench, including politicians who’ve won in important purple states, like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Biden said he wanted to be a bridge to the next generation of Democrats. There are quite a few promising people qualified to cross it. A primary will give Democrats the chance to find the one who is suited for this moment...


Hmmm....

Like many of you, I watched third string quarterback Brock Purdy come off the bench and almost lead the San Francisco 49'ers to the promised land before his arm was turned to tunafish by a blitzing Philadelphia Eagles linebacker named Hasson Reddick.

And here's the thing.

Neither Gretchen Whitmer nor Raphael Warnock is Brock Purdy, even if they suddenly grow an extra ten or twelve arms, in the face of blitzing neandercons and vituperative faux media outlet bleatings in a general US'ian presidential election.

In other words, the real issue for the Democrats is precisely their lack of bench depth, which is why the party's power brokers, which included Barack Obama,  got together and anointed Mr. Biden as their candidate in the first place back in the spring of 2020.

OK?


.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Will There Soon Be A Run On DVD Players?


TurnOutTheStreamingLights
TheParty'sOverVille


Believe it or not, I try my best to not always be the curmudgeonly old guy with the youths.

However, given my day job, that can be pretty hard sometimes. As in, 'When I was a gradual student we made our own media from scratch!' (or, at the very least, from powder).

Anyway...

This past holiday season I was only half-joking when I mentioned to our grown-up kids, nieces, nephews and their various and assorted sundry significant others that I just might be buying them DVD players for Christmas next year.

What was my reasoning?

Well, as the streaming services fragment so that you now need at least half-a-dozen subscriptions, or more (especially if you want event programming, like sports), the costs for those without cable cords are going to get so exorbitant that I reckon the kids will soon be scouring bargain bins for entire DVD seasons of 'Friends' or 'The Office' so that they can get their post-syndication apocalypse fix at a reasonable price.

And now, well, there is the following, which is likely to ratchet up the cost of plugging into a screaming service for all kinds of kinda/sorta still at home, but actually/really pretty much moved out,  twenty-somethings:

After months of warning subscribers that anti-password sharing measures were coming to Netflix, the company appears to be finally set to unleash them.

Netflix has estimated that over 100 million users worldwide are using the service through the login credentials of someone else. It hopes that by putting an end to account sharing, it will bring a new infusion of revenue to the company...


Gosh.

I wonder if the player in our basement even works anymore?


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Only the olds, especially those with a penchant for half-time highlights and/or dandies on a Monday Night, will connect the image and sub-header to this one...


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Sunday, February 05, 2023

Mr. Henley's Opus.


VoicesDownThe
CorridorVille


Back in the days of yore (i.e. when the olds were young), we used to pore over album gatefolds like the one pictured above.

Why?

Because, while there was Rolling Stone, Creem, Circus and, in a pinch, Hit Parader, there were no interwebs where you could find out pretty much anything about any album or band like, say,  this.

****

Hotel California was released in late 1976.

In the summer of 1977 I worked at a local hardware store that was less then two blocks away from my house which meant that I could saunter home for lunch.

During one of those lunch times I distinctly remember putting on headphones, lying on the couch, and listening to this album full blast.

While the title track was the big hit off the album at the time, I was particularly struck by 'The Last Resort' which Glen Frey later called 'Mr. Henley's Opus' given that it included lines like:

...Some rich men came and raped the land. Nobody caught 'em...


Of course, Don Henley would soon become a very rich man himself.

And while Henley has often supported environmental causes and the rights of his fellow musicians over the years, he has also railed against, and shut down, bootlegs and amateur covers of his and his bandmates' songs on the Youtubes.

Thank the spaghetti monster this cover by my current favourite internet kids still stands (so far)...


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OMG!, 3rd Edition...Who Knew What, When?

LongFormJournalism?
WeDon'tNeedNoStinkingLongFormJournalism!Ville


Back when the Overstory Media Group first fired the core staff at its flagship Capital Daily outlet (i.e. the one that had actually been making money) last week, one of the company's principals, former Daily Hive owner Farhan Mohamed, unequivocally stated that he did NOT know that employees were planning to unionize:




That was early in the morning of Thursday February 2nd.

However, in a Tyee story published the next day, Friday February 3rd, Mr. Mohammed told Zak Vescera something very different:

...Mohamed confirmed to The Tyee that he had been aware of the union drive, though the company has denied it played any role in the cuts...


Why does this matter?

Because, in my opinion, the timing of the firings, which occurred the day before the announcement of the unionization drive makes it hard not to wonder if the former was designed to kibosh the latter, especially given the following, which was reported by Ethan Cox writing for Ricochet:

...OMG sources confirmed to Ricochet that three of the four fired employees (at Capital Daily) were lead organizers with the union effort...


Further on the timing point...

The other OMG principal, deep-pocketed tech guy (i.e. not the former BCL party leader*) Andrew Wilkinson, stated, also early in the morning of Thursday February 2nd, that he knew about the unionization drive but claimed that it would have been pretty dumb of them to fire folks given that the drive went forward the next day, regardless:



Which is all fine and good, as far deflector spike-spin attempts go.

But ask yourself the following...

What would the reaction have been if the firings had occurred the day AFTER the unionization announcement?


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OMG! 1st and 2nd editions are here and here.
*Thanks to longtime reader NVG for clearing that up.
As for that deflector spike-spin strategy thingee...It's now almost a full week since the firings and still not a peep out of the corpMedia, at least according to today's  Googleplex...



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Friday, February 03, 2023

Meanwhile In America...Won't Someone Please Think Of The...


...Ancestors?

From Tierney Sneed of CNN:

A federal law that prohibits people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms is unconstitutional, a conservative-leaning appeals court ruled Thursday.

The ruling is the latest significant decision dismantling a gun restriction in the wake of the Supreme Court’s expansion of Second Amendment rights last year in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen decision.

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that the federal law targeting those believed to pose a domestic violence threat could not stand under the Bruen test, which requires that gun laws have a historical analogy to the firearm regulations in place at the time of the Constitution’s framing.

Through that lens, we conclude that (the law’s) ban on possession of firearms is an ‘outlier’ that our ancestors would never have accepted,” the 5th Circuit said...


As for those threatened by a firearm-fuelled escalation of domestic violence?

Well, it appears that it doesn't matter what they will or will not accept.

****

What's it all about this time Alfie?

Well, it's this Federalist Society's/current Supreme Court majority's obsession, developed as a way to suppress, and even reverse, all things progressive via 'Constitutional Originalism'.

Harry Litman, writing in the Atlantic, explains the origin story of this codswallop:

Originalism—the idea that the meaning of each provision of the United States Constitution becomes fixed at the time of its enactment—in its contemporary form traces back to the advocacy of a few conservative judges, most prominently Antonin Scalia, in the mid-1980s. At the time, it was a rebel yell. The few self-styled originalists were railing against a long line of judicial precedents, particularly a set of Warren Court rulings that they viewed as mere expressions of liberal policy preferences...

{snip}

...To understand what (Constitutional Originalism is) — and why it matters so much — begin with the two main defenses of originalism, as propounded by Scalia along with Justice William Rehnquist, Judge Robert Bork, and the core members of the then-fledgling Federalist Society (in the Reaganland-fuelled early 1980's when this was all conjured/invented). The first was the concept’s supposed determinacy. Scalia savaged various theories of what he termed the “living Constitution” as hopelessly open-ended and unpredictable. Discerning the Constitution’s original meaning, by contrast, was fundamentally a down-the-middle judicial task.

The second tenet was originalism’s legitimacy—and the illegitimacy of a “living Constitution”—as an essential corollary to the very idea of a written constitution. The point of writing the Constitution down, originalists argued, was to fix its meaning. Any monkeying with meaning thereafter is the province of the legislative branch or the popular will, and the courts’ job is to set them straight...


Sometimes one has to wonder if these fine folks will only be happy when absolutely no one but they and theirs get to do the living and dying in their town.

The town they and theirs have so hard to turn from Bedford Falls into Pottersville.

Or some such thing.



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Thursday, February 02, 2023

OMG, Revisited...You Keep Using That Number.


IDoNotThinkItMeansWhatYouThinksItMeans,And...
TwoPlusTwoDoesNotEqualFiveVille


Yesterday, we noted that the Overstory Media Group (OMG), which is run by two fine fellows named Farhan Mohamed and Andrew Wilkinson, fired the reporting and editorial core of their flagship outlet, the Capital Daily (Victoria), earlier this week.

In that post we also wondered about the timing of the firings given that they occurred the day before it was announced that the majority of OMG employees had decided to unionize.

Well, now, writing in Ricochet, Ethan Cox notes that:

...OMG sources confirmed to Ricochet that three of the four fired employees were lead organizers with the union effort...

****

Earlier today, on the Twittmachine,  Mr. Mohamed wrote that he knew nothing of the unionization drive while Mr. Wilkinson indicated that he had known about the drive for months but denied that the firings had anything to do with it whatsoever:



Which, of course, is an interesting contradiction in and of itself from the two fine fellows running the company.

As for the future of Capital Daily, Mr. Wilkinson keeps saying, including to at least one irate subscriber, that everything is going to be just fine because five of nine employees are still working for the outlet:



Except, according to one of the employees that is still there, that is not the case from a daily operations point of view:



Stay tuned...


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And while independent media are now starting to pay attention to the story we still note the absence of corpMedia coverage...
As for the subheader and image at the top of the post... We are in no way implying that either principal at OMG bears any resemblance whatsoever to either Montoya or Vezzini...However, we really do wonder if 'five' means what Mr. Wilkinson says it means...


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Are We Moving From Vaccine Mandates Toward Luxury Vaccines?


First there was the news of the ratcheting up of COVID vaccine prices that is very likely on the way:

...Moderna’s announcement early this month that it would consider a price hike on the vaccine was inevitable. Pfizer and BioNTech had made a similar announcement last October. But Moderna’s proposed quadrupling of the price—from the current $26 per dose to between $110 and $130 per dose—is a stunning 4,000 percent increase from its manufacturing cost of $2.85 per dose...


Now, word has come, from the UK at least (so far?), that getting a COVID vaccine on the public dime will soon get harder for large swaths of the population:

Booster jabs will no longer be available to healthy under-50s from February 12 - meaning Brits have just 12 days to book a slot.

Offers of first and second doses will also be withdrawn later this year...


Now, according to the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation this is all just part of moving from a collective  pandemic 'emergency' response to a pandemic 'recovery' response:

...As the transition continues away from a pandemic emergency response towards pandemic recovery, the JCVI has advised that the 2021 booster offer (third dose) for persons aged 16 to 49 years who are not in a clinical risk group should close in alignment with the close of the autumn 2022 booster vaccination campaign...


However...

As we pivot from one type of pandemic response to another it is also worth remembering, as we noted previously, that the rich (and/or Davos Man and Woman) are not like you and me.

OK?



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Wednesday, February 01, 2023

OMG!

Something'sHappeningHere
WhatItIsAin'tExactlyClear



I've been quite happily consuming what the Overstory Media Group (the real, actual acronym of the post title) have been dishing out around Greater Lotusland that last couple of years, especially the work of the folks at Capital City Daily.

But then, Monday, came the news of big layoffs that have essentially gutted the that specific outlet:

Overstory Media Group (OMG) has made another round of layoffs, focused on Victoria’s Capital Daily.

 Among those caught up in Monday’s job losses were managing editor Jimmy Thomson, who’d been with the digital publication since 2020; journalist and copy editor Jolene Rudisuela; and reporters Brishti Brasu and Shannon Waters...


Interestingly, the next day, Tuesday, came an announcement that many folks working for the company have decided to unionize:


The timing has some folks wondering, including at least one of the folks that was most recently let go from Capital City, if there was something pre-emptive in the timing of the layoffs...


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Interestingly,
the legacy corpMedia 'round here has pretty much ignored the story so far...Where's a younger (i.e. still employed) version of Rod Mickleburgh when you need him?...Looks like we'll have to wait for Jesse Brown and Co. to shake the trees to learn anything further...
Ear Worm in the Subheader?...This!...(written by Stephen Stills not about the recent events at a Canuckistanian newMedia start-up but rather about the so-called curfew/youth riots on the Sunset Strip more than fifty years ago...Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Sonny and Cher were both there, like, digging the scene man).



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