Sunday, May 28, 2023

Back In The Cigar Tube Again...


There was a point a couple of weeks ago when I was struck dumb by a terrible realization.

Which is that, for people like me, there were actually some plusses that came about because of the COVID shut/drag/slowdown.


I realize that this is stupid and small of me because the shut/drag/slowdown was really incredibly hard for so many.

But in a job like mine all the superfluous junk just, literally, melted away for awhile.

Most of that was dumb administrative junkish-type stuff that had little to do with anything significant.

Unfortunately, all of that stuff is now back with a vengeance.

And, while I'm not sure this fits into the same category, the travel has started again as well.

Boy oh boy, I had forgotten how much I hate security gates, airports in general, and the constant worry of having the laptop crushed by a rapidly reclining seat back.

And as for paying 10 bucks for a muffin and a coffee at YVR on a Sunday morning, well...



Double sheesh.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Minnesota - The North's True Star.


It turns out that a whole lot can be done when progressives and moderates decide to ignore the loons roaming the lakes and work together...

Hit the 'read the full conversation link', from above.

It is one Twittmachine thread that won't disappoint you.

Conventional news report....Here.


Monday, May 22, 2023

A Most Happy Phone Call.


Back in ancient times, circa 2008, I forced my whole family to go and see Mr. Springsteen and his compatriots at the Lotuslandian coliseum that little Arthur built (and lost).

And while there was a whole lot more shuffling than dancing on piano tops down on E-street by then, at least everyone in the classic version of the band was still alive and our kids got a chance to see Clarence, ensconced stage left, roll out the magic musical carpet ride that is the Jungleland sax solo.


Back then, in the spring of 2008, littler e. had just turned nine.

And the following is one of the things about heading out to see that show fifteen years ago that warmed my heart:

...As we hustled across the last remaining Concord Pacific wasteland on the Northeast side of False Creek we could see all the tour trucks lined-up all along Pacific directly under the SkyTrain tracks.

"Are those all for The Show?" C. asked?

"Yup." I answered, scanning the shadows around the SkyTrain's gunmetal grey stanchions searching for a furtive looking Crazy Davy and/or Killer Joe doing a last minute deal, wine in hand.

"Oh!" exclaimed a suddenly skipping littler e., "It's just like the circus."...

The circus, indeed.

These days I mostly try to keep up with my all grown-up kids when it comes to the latest in music.

Occasionally, however, I sneak in under the wire and spout off on something new, interesting and unbeknownst to them.

A recent example?

The following recent text exchange:

Me: Why have you kids not previously informed me of the existence of 'The Beths'?

e: Sorry I don't even know them!

Me: Well then...Get listening!


A few weeks ago I got a phone call from e.

This was unusual given the penchant of our kids to use their thumb rather than their vocalis muscles to communicate via telephony.


I was prepared for bad or, at the very least, difficult news when I pushed the little red button on the black obelisk.

Boy, was I wrong.

Because e. was calling to ask if I wanted to go see Boy Genius at, of all places, the PNE.

Heckfire, yes, we are going...

And e. has even promised that we can hang out near the back so that I can (mostly) avoid embarrassment if and when Ms. Bridgers asks the kids in the crowd if any of them have Daddy issues.

Which, now that I think of it, is something that a younger Mr. Springsteen used to do, if somewhat more obliquely through the personal myth making, as well.


Song at the top of the post?...
An amazing, off-mic version of a first generation bg tune that I took a run at myself awhile back.
As for Bigger E...She's skipping this one because, in her words, 'I do not really like those girls'....However, both E's, C, and me, are all going to see Lucinda Williams and some passel of young shiftless kids called Big Thief though.


Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Long Game Of Big Anonymous.


The long game of anonymous billionares, I mean.

The following was written by Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian way back in early 2013:

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives...


What was the result of all that anonymous money funneling into the gullet of the anti-climate change grift machine starting in 2002:

By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 think tanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.

The money flowed to Washington think tanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore...

And were are we now, in 2023?

And where are we going?

Well,  it would appear that Big Anonymi has convinced us that it is in our best interest to do nothing meaningful as they strap ever heavier bricks to the accelerator of our collective clown car while it hurtles down the traffic-choked freeway straight toward oblivion.

And Norm Farrell fears that we are getting ready to throw the map with the escape route out the window into the passing fossil fuel-driven wildfire pyre:

...Sadly, an apocalyptic disaster is something my generation seems determined to leave to our children and grandchildren...

And how to slow the car and change course?

It can only be done collectively - and that can only happen if we first make a concerted effort to dismantle Big Anonymi's bought-and-paid-for grift machine so that we can clear our heads and start making hard, meaningful decisions that will not be easy but will save us all.


Presque-vuish earworm in the sub-header?....Stars around the World! (minus the self-immolation-themed intro).
Speaking of Stars, Torquil Campbell and Ali Momen have a podcast called 'Soft Revolution' where  how to go collective on the hard stuff is often discussed...An example edition is...Here.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Sanctimonious Blues Brothers Candidate.


Apparently, the entirety of the US'ian pro-punditry expects current Florida governor and Disney villain Ron DeSantis to announce that he's running to be the Republican party's candidate for president next week.


What's driving Mr. DeSantis?

Well, an 'inside source' managed to get the main talking point wurlitzered out to the faithful by an obliging CNN:

“...He thinks he’s on a mission from God..."

From the other side, the surrealistic smart money is predicting that Belushi's Ghost will soon put down his samurai sword and ask the following:

..."Will he be riding in on a Speedball?..."


Meanwhile, in a time and place where the rules really and truly don't matter (i.e. the here and now), the New York Times is reporting the following re: Mr. DeSantis' recent rides:

...(DeSantis') political committee has accepted private air travel from roughly 55 wealthy, mostly Florida-based contributors and companies associated with them, including the heads of oil and gas companies, developers and homebuilders, and health care and insurance executives, a Times analysis of campaign finance records shows...

Why won't any of this matter?

Because, this:

...Mr. DeSantis has aggressively navigated his state’s ethics and campaign finance laws to avoid flying commercial. And he has gone to new lengths to prevent transparency: Last week, he signed a bill making travel records held by law enforcement, dating back to the beginning of his term, exempt from public records requests...


...(T)he new law probably prevents law enforcement agencies from releasing more details, such as itineraries, flight information or even lists of visitors to the governor’s mansion. (Mr. DeSantis says he is trying to address a security concern.)...

Imagine that!

Earworm in the subheader?...
Mind the cheese.


Friday, May 19, 2023

A Dual Threat To Democracy...


Remember when the current premier of Alberta, UCP leader Danielle Smith, made a call to an anti-vaxx/separatist preacher named Artur Pawlowski and discussed what she could do to make the criminal charges he was facing go away?

Well, as David Climenhaga documents, the Alberta Ethics Commissioner has now weighed in:

...(T)he purpose of Premier Smith’s call was to influence a decision of the Crown to prosecute Mr. Pawlowski. … It is improper for any elected official to try to interfere with the administration of justice by interfering in a prosecution. … It is a threat to democracy …”

Strong words of a kind we have not seen from an ethics commissioner on this, the left side, of the Rockies for longer than this old guy can remember.


This is not the only threat to democracy brewing in Alberta at the moment...


In case you were not aware of it, there is is blink-and-you'll-miss-it election campaign going down in Alberta at the moment.

Ms. Smith's UCP has the rural parts of the province in the bag and the same is true for Rachel Notley's NDP in Edmonton.

Which means that Calgary is the battleground where many commentators are shading thing UCP, although most polls have things within the statistical margin of error.

So, while it is not a large one, there is a distinct possibility that Ms. Notley and the NDP could win on May 29th.

And if they do, I fear that is where the second threat to democracy may emerge from the mire.

Because it turns out that there is a fringe group of far-rightish folks in wild rose country that are attempting to recruit and 'educate' a small army of election scrutineers that can, if needed, make a fuss about, amongst other things...wait for it...

Voting machines.

Stephen Magusiak has that story, with receipts, at Press Progress:

...“It is a fact that the 2020 election in the United States was an inflection point for a lot of people,” said (scrutinizer webinar) presenter Ryan Murray. “And I started asking: What happened down there? Was it real? Did it really happen? Could it happen in Canada?”

Murray dived into his concerns with voting machines, alleging they have “documented issues,” pointing out they were not built in Alberta but by a company based in Omaha, Nebraska and raising questions about the “source code.”

“What’s going on with the source code?” Murray asked. “Do we have access to the source code? If we don’t know the programming and how these tabulators are actually processing our ballots, how they’re scanning them, how they’re storing them.”

“What’s going on inside of these machines?”

“It is documented,” Murray said. “These machines do have issues.”...


...Anjelika Oulanova, a (scrutinizer webinar) presenter who previously hosted a Take Back Alberta event at her home near Okotoks, provided a presentation on “How to ensure integrity of our vote” that cast doubt on the reliability of voting machines and asked attendees: “If we have machines that don’t count correctly, how can we rely on them?”...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Oulanova also provided a “script” that gives scrutineers instructions on how to dispute votes with Elections Alberta poll workers and advises them on how to ask to physically examine voting machines...


In days of yore we all could just chuckle and mutter something like 'fringe gonna fringe' before moving on, safe in knowledge that such a ridiculous initiative would go nowhere.

But these are not those days, what with the prevalence of insanity boosting algorithms and legacy media organs more than willing to defringify any group whose mad ravings have the potential to attract eyeballs and clicks to their dying platforms.

Therefore, the concern is that, once defringified and injected into the mainstream after a Notley win, the no longer mad voting machine ravings of the scrutineers will soon spread like wildfire through social media feeds and crank websites. 

And if that happens we could be in real trouble by mid-summer.

And not just in the Albertalands.

Image at the top of the post?...The 'Old Market' in Omaha Nebraska...A very sinister place, indeed.
COberst-free Earworm in the subheader?...This.


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

What Rafe Said Then Still Makes Sense Today.


From the past writings of our favourite ol' curmudgeonly contrarian, Rafe Mair:

...Now, prime minister, you can go down in history as a great prime minister if you sincerely commit to serious reform and are reelected...


....Nobody expects you to have the magic bullet. To redo the way we elect MPs and the powers we give them is open to many options which must be thrashed out...


There must be Reform! The stakes are very high, sir, since despite what you might think from 34 Sussex Drive, there is a lot of unrest in the land. Surely, the days when less than 40% of the popular vote achieve 100% of the power must be put behind us...

But here's the thing.

Mr. Mair wrote those words back in September of 2015 during the last days of the Stephen Harper regime.

Which brings us to something else that Rafe noted at the time:

...(Y)our NDP, Liberal and Green counterparts have each backed proportional representation or some variety of serious electoral reform should they form government this October...


If Rafe was with us today would anyone be surprised if he re-wrote this piece pointing out that the good Mr. Trudeau was for electoral reform before he was against it? 

In case you missed it (or just haven't read it in awhile), Tom Hawthorn's obit of Mr. Mair is really excellent...


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

No Bounce For The Wicked.


Cast your mind all the way back to the middle of last week when the cable news network that was once owned by Ted Turner debased itself on the alter of the never ending reverse golden lie escalator in a nakedly obvious attempt to increase its ratings.


While it may have worked in the short term, at least in terms of gathering the eyeballs of the damned, by the end of the week all that had evaporated:

CNN prime time dropped on Friday (May 12th) to 335,000 average total viewers from 8 to 11 p.m, coming below right-wing channel Newsmax, which scored 357,000 average prime time viewers.

The ratings-beleaguered network landed in fourth place in prime time, also behind Fox News and MSNBC, which averaged 1.44 million and 1.08 million total average viewers in prime time — respectively...

Imagine that!

Image at the top of the post?...Waxy Ted and the Don.


Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Foxiest News Model Of Them All...


It would appear that the fine folks at WarnerBros.Discovery, Inc. that run a certain cable news network have decided that it's 2015 all over again.

Which means that recently minted Zuckerian replacement Chris Licht figured that the time was right last night to double down and go the full Logan Roy:

Earworm in the sub-header?....This.


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Perpetual Circular Double-Dealing Machine


Remember when it turned out that the bond rating agencies that were ranking crap paper-backed mortgage derivatives were actually in the pocket of the financial industry so that they could slice up all that crap and cram it into collateral debt obligations that they sold as gold for the fools?

Well, we all know how that turned out.

And while the circular double-dealing meant that many, many people lost their homes and worse while world's economy crashed, at least no one's health and wellbeing was (directly) imperilled.

Now, as Corey Doctorow notes, that may not be the case when it comes to circular double-dealing in the long term residential care business:

...(I)n Australia, the job of auditing residential eldercare homes' compliance with safety and anti-abuse rules has been outsourced to KPMG. While KPMG earns a mid-sized fortune from these audits, it earns far more advising the owners of residential aged care homes on how to beat those audits...


What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Twitter v. NPR...Mr. Musk Strikes Back.


A couple of weeks ago we noted that, after Elon Musk had essentially branded it as government propaganda, the US'ian National Public Radio network decided to leave the modern day My Space....errrr....Twitter platform.

Now it would appear that the good Mr. Musk has decided to strike back:

Elon Musk has threatened to reassign NPR's Twitter account to "another company."

In a series of emails sent to this reporter (NPR's Bobby Allyn), Musk said he would transfer the network's main account on Twitter, under the @NPR handle, to another organization or person. The idea shocked even longtime observers of Musk's spur-of-the-moment and erratic leadership style... 

And why would Mr. Musk do such a thing?


Is it possible that this is a mob boss-type shot across the bow in which his Muskness is letting other big media users of his failing platform know that it sure would be a shame if something bad were to happen to their good name when he sells their account to the highest grift bidder?

One can only wonder if an underlying reason that Twitter under Mr. Musk is tanking has something to do with the fact that, unlike his other endeavours, the little blue bird is neither heavily subsidized by the government nor monetarily supported by massive government contracts...


Friday, May 05, 2023

Comprehending That Which Is Impossible To Comprehend


Vancouver councillor Christine Boyle and Canuckistanian labour economics guy Jim Stanford recently wrote an OpEd in which they made the case that the City of Vancouver's decision to abandon its liveable wage commitment is going to have a negative impact on all Lotuslandians because:

"...The City will soon find that its penny-pinching is stymied by the realities of labour market competition. We won’t be able to hire the people we need. And City services will suffer..."

They make quite a persuasive case, and I was right with Boyle and Stanford until the end of their piece when they wrote the following:

...City Council’s decision to abandon living wages (for both City employees and contractors) is impossible to comprehend. The fiscal savings are likely to be outweighed by new costs associated with employee turnover, labour shortages, and contract flipping...

Why am I making a fuss about this passage?

Well, as I've argued before, the (still newish) City Council's decision is actually very easy to comprehend if you consider the possibility that the impetus for that decision had little or nothing to do with City employees and everything to do with City contractors.