Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Total Ensh*ttifcation Of A Podcatcher.


Enshittification, as defined by Cory Doctorow, codifies the decline and destruction of once fine landing places on the interwebz:

..."Here is how (online) platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die."...

Today, the final stage in the process was reached by my (soon to be former) podcatcher, the Stitcher app:

...Satellite-radio provider SiriusXM said it will shut down its Stitcher podcast app at the end of August...

I have used the entirely free version of Stitcher for approximately three online epochs, starting back in the days when I had nothing but a little Nokia android device.

Even though I now have one of those ridiculously overpowered Tim Smith machines, I still favour Stitcher because it is the most straightforward podcatching app around (that I know of, at least). All I do is judiciously add new favourites and have them show up chronologically, in a single linear feed, as each new episode comes out. No fuss, no mess, no need to search through my own choices to find what I want, and no damnable algo-driven experiences appearing seemingly randomly whenever they want to for no good reason at all.

And I don't even mind the ads that come with the free versions of both the app and the podcasts I reel-in, especially those generated by the OG's who just read the copy out, straight-up, between segments.


Why did 'Sirius', who bought the Stitcher for $325 million back in 2020, kill it?

...(Sirius, t)he audio corporation known for its satellite radio stations is shutting down Stitcher in an attempt to get customers over to its flagship subscription service...


That's some bait and switch mixed in with all the bubbling crap.


Saturday, June 24, 2023

Coo - Coup - Ka - Choo.


Apparently, the Russian civil war that started, like, yesterday, is over.

For now:

Meanwhile, the elites or, more likely their children appear to be fleeing:

...Flights from Moscow have reportedly sold out as the Wagner mercenary group approaches.

Der Spiegel has reported that tickets for direct connections from Moscow to Tbilisi, Astana and Istanbul are no longer available...

As for the Impalinist himself?...Well?
Need background/context?....Anne Applebaum's latest in the Atlantic is solid...And the WikiCanoodlers are actually doing a solid job of keeping up...


Friday, June 23, 2023

Bring On The Yutes!


When I was a (very) young and (very) junior science geek I went to a conference in Boulder Colorado.

It was during the summer and all the gradual students and post-docs stayed in the dorms on the University of Colorado campus. This led to the kind of late night hijinks, etc., that you might expect from kids from all over the world, unleashed. Personally, I was too freaked out with nervousness to participate in most of the fun given that I was presenting some of my very first experimental work in the last poster session of the meeting.

Poster sessions are kind of like a science fair where anybody can grill you on what you've push-pinned to the board. I've always found presenting data on a poster way more nerve-racking than giving a talk, despite the fact that the latter is much more prestigious.


The weird thing was that my boss at the time also stayed in the dorms with us rather than at one of the local hotels like just about all the other senior science folks did.

So, as we were packing up and getting ready to head to the airport at the end of meeting  I asked N. why she hung out with us kids in the dorms and slept on the crummy beds the entire time.

She just laughed and said, "I like to be around all the youthful enthusiasm".

To be honest, I didn't know what she meant given that she most certainly didn't partake in the  late night hijinks.

But I'm pretty sure I know what she means now, given that I am now one of the olds.

Case in point...

I spent the morning interviewing  a bunch of young gradual students for a couple of teaching assistant positions I have coming up in the fall. 

By the end of the session I was all charged up by their ideas and suggestions, not to mention their enthusiasm.

And, now, instead of looking ahead to the fall teaching schedule with dread, I'm almost looking forward to it.


Don't get me wrong. I actually enjoy teaching and I'm not that bad at it...It's just that at this time of the year there's a real feeling of freedom to concentrate entirely on the research side of the equation...Once the teaching starts up again in the fall  that feeling often evaporates...
And, from the Bloggodome, local Lotuslandian division...If you haven't been by Norm Farrell's place lately, get over their pronto...He's on fire!


Sunday, June 18, 2023

For Our Dad.


Those of you who have been stopping by here for awhile now may be asking....

Why this post again?

Because, as nobody had to remind this year... It's a tradition - that's why!

As for the photo at the top of the post...Our Dad, far left with his all of his boys (including his favourite dog Wally) and his Dad too, probably taken 40 years ago.

Happy Day of the Fathers, et cetera, everyone!


My old man was a Union man.

And the folks in the Union fought like bastards...and they fought constantly, usually for the tiniest of things in each successive contract...things like an extra quarter percent on a COLA clause, or one little add-on like an extra free filling per year on the dental plan.

And when I was a kid, especially during that time when I was a barely no-longer-a-teenager-aged kid, I thought the folks from the Union were just a little bit off their nut....all that energy going into what, exactly?

After all, it was the 80's, and Dave Barrett and the Socialist Hordes were long gone, and the Wild Kelowna boys were rolling along, and Unions were bad, and Expo was coming, and Trudeau was going, and John Turner was hiccupping, and Mulroney was lurking, somewhere off in the distance....

....And if you were a half-bright, apolitical science-geek kind of kid like me, breezing your way through college and thinking about graduate school, you laughed when you saw the boy wonder from Burnaby, Michael J. Fox, shirk his Family Ties and ape the young Republicans while making fun of his willfully neutered Leftie of a Dad on the TV screen...

....And if you were that kid, you thought that you were living in a golden age that was tied, not to the social democratic reforms of the past, but to the coming of Free Trade and the promises of the Reaganites from the South...

...And from that perspective you sure as heck didn't always get the irony of Bruce Springsteen singing about the plight of the working class in 'Born in the USA'.

But now that I have spent a good chunk of time in USA where I started a family of my own before coming home, I do get it.

I understand that my Dad spent his entire adult life hauling logs up and down the West Coast, working his guts out to help keep the robber baron families rich because he had to make a living to support his own family....

....And I get the fact that, because of the Unions, my family's standard of living gradually improved, bit by bit, over the years so that by the time I had grown up to be that callow young man described above my parents had saved enough to help me go to University....

....And I get the fact that I was the first one in my family who got to go to University....Ever.....And it wasn't because I was so damned smart....

....And I get the fact that, while my parents' limited financial help and support was important, it would never have been enough to get me into the same good schools if I had arrived on the scene a single generation earlier or, perhaps, later....

....And I get the fact that those Wild Kelowna Boys, and all the other neo-cons that have come since, have been doing their damndest to destroy the dream of a University education for all, and instead have instituted an elitist education for some and one-trick-pony Technical training for everybody else.....

....And I get the fact that, if it wasn't for folks like my Dad and the other lefties of his time, my current world, one in which I make a living with my eyes and my mind wide open, would not be what it is today.....

....And most of all, I now get the fact that my Dad was, and is, my hero.

One of these days I should probably write a little about my Dad's Dad's story...Tugboats too...Unions, less so (I think)...


Friday, June 16, 2023

Hey, You! Get Off A My Lawn!

Actually, there are no lawns at the corner of Fraser and 29th.

At least not on the southeast corner where the local Loblaws discount(ish) outlet reigns supreme. 

When I stopped by one evening last week on my way home from work the bike rack was already full. 

So I chained up to the no parking sign across the street and headed into the harsh neon to stock up on hard fibre and various other assorted sundry items.

When came back outside fifteen minutes later my shoulders sagged as I crossed the street and noticed that the headlight was no longer strapped to the handlebars of my bike.

I looked to the sky and took a long, slow breath while while I considered whether it was advisable to ride the few blocks home in the gathering dusk sans incandescence.

That's when I noticed the young kid sitting atop the now empty bike rack across the street in front of the store.

In that moment, to this old man's mind eye at least, the kid looked snotty, dismissive and downright shifty. 

I gave him a good stare as he pretended to look at his phone and, with righteous indignation simmering, I almost crossed over to ask him a question or two.


I wish I could say that the thing that stopped me was the wisdom of one of the kids in 'Reservation Dogs',  shown in the trailer above, who somehow seems to get along with everyone because of his credo, which is that he always does his best to treat everyone well in the hopes that they will do the same.

But no.

It wasn't anything that pure of heart, or even just plain reasonable, that led me to turn my bike the other way and head for home.

Instead, it was the gathering darkness.

Of course, later, as I was emptying my pack I found the light.

Clearly, this time the 'Sheesh' was all on me.


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Shakin' All Over.


This little F-Troop-list blog has come to the attention of a Singapore-based 'Crawl and Trawl' bot swarm recently.

And the page they most often crawl all over looking for what, exactly, I don't know is a nine year old post about Neil Young and his efforts to raise money for First Nations folks who were doing their darnedest to force the Tar Sands extraction outfits to act responsibly on their lands.


The image I pasted into the post in question was the following:

Note the two singers sharing the microphone on the left.

As longtime reader SH noted - they are Nicolette Larson (also shown, above, as a kid) and her then roommate, Linda Ronstadt.

It turns out that the two of them were Uncle Neil's backup singers for 1977's  'American Stars and Bars' album.

Soon, Larson fell for Young and she went on to do a whole lot of harmonizing on 1978's 'Comes A Time'.

But here's the thing....

At the (actual) time, Larson was married to Emmylou Harris' sideman Hank DeVito.

DeVito was devastated and he and Larson soon divorced. DeVito then wrote 'Queen of Hearts', which was recorded by Juice Newton. Reportedly, the subject of the line 'Joker ain't the only fool who'll do anything for you'  was, you guessed it, Shakey. 


Stick that in your word salad-driven, syntax-mangling machinery Trawl Bots!

Ms. Larson
died tragically in 1997 at the age of just 45 from cerebral edema...A good retrospective of her life is...Here.
Earworm In The Subheader?...Ms' Larson's big hit, written by Young...She first listened to the tune on a cassette tape that she found tossed on the floor of Young's car...


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Real Fargo.


Doug Burgum, the pride of Fargo North Dakota and the state's current governor, is running for president.

Burgum, who made his fortune when he sold off his regional software company to Microsoft for a 'B' number back in the days when that actually meant something, is running as a 'good government' Republican who eschews all the culture war stuff.

Which, of course, is a crock given that, as governor,  Burgum has signed off on laws banning abortion after six weeks, gender transition care, and the discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools. 

And, while he is no Jerry Lundegaard, when the going gets tough, Mr. Burgum knows how to play rough with those he perceives to be political enemies, sometimes with bizarre, unintended consequences.

The following is from a NY Times piece by Jonathan Weisman published last week:

...In 2020, Burgum clashed with the state House Appropriations Committee chair, Jeff Delzer, especially over the governor’s prized project, a new Theodore Roosevelt presidential library near the Burgum ranch in Medora, North Dakota. After the conflict, Burgum funded a primary challenger running as a “Trump Republican” against Delzer.

The challenger, David Andahl, died of COVID-19 before his name could be taken off the ballot — and won. Then local officials reappointed Delzer to the seat...


Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction and/or anything the Coen brothers could possibly come up with.

As for the real, real Fargo?...Thanks to that trigger law on abortions, North Dakota's last remaining women's health clinic has moved across the river into Minnesota... In other words, culture wars that target actual people and their bodies have real consequences...Was listening to Ramy Youssef on Maron earlier this week...Youssef pointed out that in many instances it is now easier for women to access a safe, medically supervised abortion in Saudi Arabia than it is in many 'triggered' US'ian states.


Friday, June 09, 2023



From Kyle Cheney writing in Politico:

Two of Donald Trump’s top lawyers abruptly resigned from his defense team on Friday, just hours after news broke that he and a close aide were indicted on charges related to their handling of classified documents.

Jim Trusty and John Rowley, who helmed Trump’s Washington, D.C.-based legal team for months and were seen frequently at the federal courthouse, indicated they would no longer represent Trump in matters being investigated and prosecuted by special counsel Jack Smith, who is probing both the documents matter and efforts by Trump to subvert the 2020 election...

And here's a name you will likely hear quite a bit about in the coming days....Aileen Cannon.

Tangential Earworm in the Sub-Header?....This.


Thursday, June 08, 2023

Neither Gaynor Nor Cake.


As per a recent post...

Tom Wambsgams, errrrr, Chris Licht, is gone and Gerri and her crew are in charge.

For now:

June 7 (Reuters) - CNN Chairman and Chief Executive Chris Licht has stepped down from the media company, effective immediately, parent company Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD.O) said on Wednesday.

The company said that as it seeks Licht's replacement, it has put in place an interim leadership team including Amy Entelis, EVP of talent and content development; Virginia Moseley, EVP of editorial; and Eric Sherling, EVP of US programming, as well as David Leavy, chief operating officer, on the commercial side...

No word, yet, on whether or not cousin Greg survived.


Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Gloom Over Gotham.


It turns out that here is bit of a debate going on between climate scientists about whether the greenhouse gas-fuelled loss of Arctic sea ice is just really bad or if it is actually really, really, really (i.e. never fixable) bad.

Essentially, some groups have been suggesting that we're doomed no matter what, while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come to the conclusion that doom can be staved off, at least in terms of the complete loss of the Arctic ice during the summer months, if we move to a 'low' carbon emission scenario as opposed to ending up in either an 'intermediate' or a 'high' emission state.

In contrast to the IPCC's conclusion, the following is from a near-top-of-the-science-geek ladder paper published earlier this week in Nature Communications  by a Korean/German/Canadian group:

...(W)e project an ice-free Arctic in September (by 2050) under all scenarios considered. These results emphasize the profound impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the Arctic, and demonstrate the importance of planning for and adapting to a seasonally ice-free Arctic in the near future...

Now, I'm not sure about you but in my mind's eye at least, the prospect of an Arctic sea completely free of ice at the end of every summer is mind-boggling.

And then there is the fact that, regardless whether all or just most of the ice melts,  the massive volume of fresh water going in the ocean is going wreak havoc on global weather patterns:

...Prof Seung-Ki Min, of Pohang University, South Korea, who led the new study (described above), said: “The most important impact for human society will be the increase in weather extremes that we are experiencing now, such as heatwaves, wildfires and floods...

Which, given that weather extremes have already become the new normal, brings us to the terrible wildfire situation that is currently raging out of control in late spring Northern Quebec:

People who had to leave their homes due to fires burning across northern and western regions of Quebec will not be able to return to their communities until next week, says Premier Fran├žois Legault.

Legault, speaking at a news conference Wednesday morning in Quebec City, said dry weather and strong winds are creating dangerous conditions and heavy smoke in areas that have been evacuated so far...

And where is all the smoke from those wildfires going?

You guessed it:

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday halted flights bound for New York’s LaGuardia Airport as smoke from Canada’s wildfires cut visibility in the area.

“The FAA has taken steps to manage the flow of traffic into the New York City area due to reduced visibility from wildfire smoke,” the agency said in a statement. “Flights bound for LaGuardia International Airport have been paused. Flights to Newark Liberty International Airport have been slowed.”...

Of course, if and/or when the smoke shuts down the Banksters' ability to take off from their East River heliports so that they can get out to the Hamptons for the weekend in 30 minutes or less, maybe then we'll get somewhere.


to the always great, almost daily,  links round-up over at Greg Fingas' Accidental Deliberations.


Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Gloria Gaynor He Is Not.


The CNN guy responsible for the odious Town Hall/MAGA Rally, Chris Licht, is no Gloria Gaynor.

And now it is not even clear that he can make like the band 'Cake', shown above.


The following is from a statement by corporate uber-boss David Zaslav that was released after company man David Leavy was brought in to oversee things at the (so-called) news network:

“CNN is a very important business for us, and, in fact, we believe that nothing we do is more important....We aspire to be the news organization most trusted by viewers globally. We set a high bar for ourselves and while we know that it will take time to complete the important work that’s underway, we have great confidence in the progress that Chris and the team are making and share their conviction in the strategy.”

So, what, exactly is the problem?

The following is from the deeply buried lede in an LA Times piece by Stephen Battaglio and Meg James published yesterday:

...While the town hall attracted more than 3 million viewers, the audience has left CNN in droves since, with the network finishing behind the small, right-wing network Newsmax on some nights in prime time. Veterans at CNN said the Nielsen data shows that its audience is clearly angry at the network...

Which gets us to the real thing.

Zaslav made it clear to Licht that he wanted to boost CNN viewership amongst US'ians who identify as Republicans.

So Licht went off the deep end and ran the rally that had the whiff of 1933 about it, sans klieg lights, with disastrous results amongst all viewers (i.e. those who couldn't stomach it and those who still want to get their even redder meat elsewhere).

One can only wonder if they Zaslav and Licht now wish they'd gone with an episode of 'Golden Escalator, Part Deux' instead.


Monday, June 05, 2023

The Seven Percent Solution.


Something most interesting is happening just south of Lotusland.

The following is from a piece by Claire Withycombe, published last week in the Seattle Times:

Early figures suggest (the state of) Washington could bring in $849 million in its first year of collecting the state’s new capital gains tax, potentially sending hundreds of millions more than expected to schools across the state.

State lawmakers passed the 7% tax on the sale or exchange of stocks, bonds and certain other assets above $250,000 in 2021. It has faced legal challenges, but got the go-ahead from the state Supreme Court in March.

The Legislature passed a budget based on earlier projections indicating Washington could collect $248 million in capital gains tax payments in the 2023 fiscal year, which ends July 1.
Instead, as of May 9, the state has collected $601 million more...

Secret Canadian Cory Doctorow explains why this is a revenue stream that is both a gusher and progressive:

...Capital gains taxes are levied on "passive income" – money you get for owning stuff. The capital gains rate is much lower than the income tax rate – the rate you pay for doing stuff. This is naked class warfare: it punishes the people who make things and do things, and rewards the people who own the means of production...


...The Washington State tax is levied exclusively on annual gains in excess of a quarter million dollars – meaning this tax affects an infinitesimal minority of Washingtonians, who are vastly better off than the people whose work they profit from...


...Washington's tax was anticipated to bring in $248m. Instead, it's projected to bring in $849m in the first year. Those funds will go to public school operations and construction and infrastructure spending...


An infinitesimal minority, who profit from the work of the majority, paying their (still less than) fair share to make a big difference that benefits everyone?

Imagine that!


Sunday, June 04, 2023

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


From Miles Klee, writing in Rolling Stone:

After years of delays, Neuralink Corp., a startup co-founded by Elon Musk and a small group of scientists in 2016, is set to begin human trials for an implantable brain chip that the tech CEO says will revolutionize humanity. And people are more than ready to lead the charge...

Yes, that's right.

It would appear that the US'ian FDA has given Mr. Musk and his band of merry men permission to start sticking stuff in people's brains.

If you click through and read the entire piece, I trust you will agree that what is most disturbing about all of this is the snake oil that Musk is selling and, even worse, how that is sucking in the gullible, hand over fist, who are ready jump on board the trial.


Mr. Musk's (allegedly) implant-free genius at Twitter isn't performing so well:

Twitter's value has reportedly dropped to about $15 billion, slightly more than one-third of the $44 billion that Elon Musk paid for it in late October 2022...

And then, over at the car company place, there is, separate from any exploding rockets, a small matter of product performance:

Tesla has earned a new title it may not want to tout: the brand with the most car recalls...


...In terms of the most recalled models, the data paints a clear picture: Teslas will cause buyers the most trouble of any car brand. The electric-vehicle maker's core lineup—Models 3, Y, X, and S—claimed four of the top five spots...


..."Most vehicles behave like the Toyota Camry–most of their recalls are issued when they are first introduced, with a rapid decline after 1-3 years," says Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars. "But some cars, like the Tesla Model S, see a pattern of ongoing recalls, or even an increasing number of recalls, as time passes. Owners of vehicles with that pattern will continue to face recall hassles for years after they acquire their car.”...


How, exactly, does one go about recalling an implanted brain chip?

Image at the top of the post?...You can read more about Clark Stanley, the man who co-opted Chinese medicine and then sold a far inferior product made from rattlesnakes, here...


Saturday, June 03, 2023

Out Of The Tube And Into The Lights.


As previously noted, last Sunday I climbed back into the damnable cigar tube again.

This time it was one of those big, old and creaky second-hand post-MulroneySchreiber buses, an A-330, to Montreal.

The trip involved helping out a health charity that does a really good job of keeping its overhead low.

So much so that I was happy to pay the six extra bucks to buy the local Compass card equivalent, pictured above, to save the cab fare by taking the 747 city bus from Dorval/Trudeau Airport downtown.

Taking that bus is something I actually like to do because it's scenic and, unlike everywhere I else I go in that town, folks don't immediately switch over to English when they hear me croak out, as my kids used to say, 'Good Juice!', by way of greeting.

Anyway, this trip involved sitting in a hotel dungeon room with fifteen fellow science geeks for two days so that we could rank the grant applications of others after we first bashed each other over the head arguing about the best way to analyze single cell RNA sequencing data and/or design an adoptive transfer experiment to rigorously test the latest potential immunotherapeutic drug combination pre-clinically.

On the night off between the daytime dungeon bashing I took the advice of reader Danneau (that he hadn't even sent my way yet) and headed off with some of the younger kids*, first to a bistro in the Plateau followed by a visit to a bar called Else's. The latter is one of those rare places that is filled to bursting with patrons of all ages that somehow still retains the aura of the hipster about it. In point of fact, it kind of reminded me of a now-defunct place in another Eastern(ish) city that my brother, the real musician in the family, and his friends built back in the days before Queen St. West gentrified.  

Anyway, after stumbling out of Else's we decided to walk along the edge of the park down into the campus that the slaveholding fur trader founded, all the while skirting the edge of that hill the locals call a mountain, until we came out on Sherbrooke and headed west to the Museum of Fine Arts before turning left...

And, suddenly, there he was, bigger than life and/or any of the lights...

Imagine that!

*More and more often these days I consider anybody, including our bass player, under the age of fifty to be a kid...
And who the heckfire knew that the lunatic David Crosby, in between being just fired from the Byrds' and just before making it big with Stills and that guy from the Hollies, was the first, and ultimately doomed, producer of Cohen's 'Songs from a Room'...I mean, darn it all anyway...It's always my intention to write these little slice-of-geek-life posts with the sole intention of not diving deep down into yet another set of obsession-dug wormholes, and....well...you know...


Friday, June 02, 2023

The End Of The World As We Know It?


How long before the following comes to a Lake Country and/or Fraser Canyon Town near you and me?

State Farm has stopped accepting homeowner insurance applications in California, citing the growing risk from catastrophes like wildfires and the rising cost to rebuild.

"State Farm General Insurance Company made this decision due to historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure, and a challenging reinsurance market," the insurance giant said in a statement on Friday (May 26th)...

Video at the top of the post?...Still one of my favourite covers of the old REM 'The L.B. people are everywhere!' tune from the pre-monetizationgorithmic days of Youtube...
Speaking of Tubes...I have returned to Lotusland from that city on the St. Lawrence...More on that later...