Monday, July 31, 2023

July In Hell.

ThereIsNothingFunnyAboutThisComedy
DivineOrOtherwiseVille



From Jack Healy writing in the New York Times:

Patients with heat stroke and burns from the asphalt are swamping hospitals. Air-conditioners are breaking down at homeless shelters. The medical examiner’s office is deploying trailer-sized coolers to store bodies, for the first time since the early days of Covid.

For 31 straight days — from the last day of June through Sunday, the second-to-last day of July — Phoenix has hit at least 110 degrees, not merely breaking its 18-day record in 1974, but setting a significant new one. The city smashed through another record last week, racking up the most 115-degree days ever in a calendar year, part of a global heat wave that made July Earth’s hottest month on record.

This has been Phoenix’s July in hell — an entire month of merciless heat that has ground down people’s health and patience in the city of 1.6 million, while also straining a regionwide campaign to protect homeless people and older residents who are most vulnerable...


The thing is, this July is only the first circle, as it were.

And we're almost certain to keep on moving on through said hell circles for some time, if not forever.

Why?

1) Because all those COP conferences on climate change that the pro-media loves to trumpet are actually fossil fuel lobby fests...

2) Because, as Norm Farrell so aptly notes, the pro-media is not willing to expend any air, hot or otherwise, on the real dangers to human existence that are already upon us...

3) Because there are big money-backed forces working night and day to strangle any and all meaningful mitigation strategies in the name of spewing even more carbon into the air indefinitely...


Quite honestly, I'm not sure even Dante could have imagined the mess that we've gotten ourselves into. 

And I, for one, do not think we can wait for some poet named Virgil to magically arrive to get us out of it.

OK?


.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Make It, Fake It...Divert It!

MaybeTheBatteries
AreTooWokeVille



Would you buy a used (and/or new high five figure) car from this man?


In March, Alexandre Ponsin set out on a family road trip from Colorado to California in his newly purchased Tesla, a used 2021 Model 3. He expected to get something close to the electric sport sedan’s advertised driving range: 353 miles on a fully charged battery.

He soon realized he was sometimes getting less than half that much range, particularly in cold weather – such severe underperformance that he was convinced the car had a serious defect...

...Ponsin contacted Tesla and booked a service appointment in California. He later received two text messages, telling him that “remote diagnostics” had determined his battery was fine, and then: “We would like to cancel your visit.”

What Ponsin didn’t know was that Tesla employees had been instructed to thwart any customers complaining about poor driving range from bringing their vehicles in for service. Last summer, the company quietly created a “Diversion Team” in Las Vegas to cancel as many range-related appointments as possible...


It turns out that there is nothing wrong with the cars as designed and built.

Instead, owners of the vehicles have unrealistic expectations of their range, presumably based on the car company's own distance 'till dead claims...

...In most cases, the complaining customers’ cars likely did not need repair, according to the people familiar with the matter. Rather, Tesla created the groundswell of complaints another way – by hyping the range of its futuristic electric vehicles, or EVs, raising consumer expectations beyond what the cars can deliver. Teslas often fail to achieve their advertised range estimates and the projections provided by the cars’ own equipment, according to Reuters interviews with three automotive experts who have tested or studied the company’s vehicles.

Neither Tesla nor Chief Executive Elon Musk responded to detailed questions from Reuters for this story...


As for the 'Diversion Team' itself?

Well...

...Inside the Nevada team’s office, some employees celebrated canceling service appointments by putting their phones on mute and striking a metal xylophone, triggering applause from coworkers who sometimes stood on desks. The team often closed hundreds of cases a week and staffers were tracked on their average number of diverted appointments per day.

Managers told the employees that they were saving Tesla about $1,000 for every canceled appointment, the people said. Another goal was to ease the pressure on service centers, some of which had long waits for appointments...


Apparently, this issue is not a bug but rather a feature intentionally built into the cars from the beginning:

...Tesla years ago began exaggerating its vehicles’ potential driving distance – by rigging their range-estimating software. The company decided about a decade ago, for marketing purposes, to write algorithms for its range meter that would show drivers “rosy” projections for the distance it could travel on a full battery, according to a person familiar with an early design of the software for its in-dash readouts.

Then, when the battery fell below 50% of its maximum charge, the algorithm would show drivers more realistic projections for their remaining driving range, this person said...


Sheesh.


_____
The story heavily quoted
above is an excellent chunk of investigative journalism by Steve Stecklow and Norihiko Shirouzu published by Reuters yesterday.... 
Cory Doctorow has more...Much more...


.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

That's One Small Step For Man...

...And One Giant Swing For The Spitter King.


Alvin Dark, who Charles Finley fired twice, the second time in 1976 for saying that he (i.e. Finley) would go to hell if he didn't mend his ways, was a pretty good major league baseball manager.

And, while he was no Madame Marie when it came to fortune telling, Dark may have been right about Finley, particularly given that the hockey gods had already punished Charlie 'O severely when they moved heaven and earth to make darned sure that Guy Lafleur would never lace up a white skate for his California Golden Seals.

And boy was Dark, who managed major league teams on both sides of the San Francisco Bay, ever right about the swing of infamous spitball pitcher Gaylord Perry when he uttered the following at about the same time that JFK made his infamous 'by the end of the decade' speech while he was then managing Perry, Willie Mays and the no longer New York Giants in the early '60's: 




Imagine that!


_____
The Riverton Rifle,
Reggie Leach, said that the only good thing about lacing up those white skates in Oakland for Charlie 'O was the free tickets the hockey playing chattel got to A's games at the outdoor Coliseum next door.
Fortune teller ear worm wiggling?...This!


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Monday, July 24, 2023

Ethical...It's Not Just For Oil Anymore.


WillWeMeetMajorKongAgain
KubrickVille


From a piece by Shera Avi-Yonah in the Washington Post:

A three-star Air Force general said the U.S. military’s approach to artificial intelligence is more ethical than adversaries’ because it is a “Judeo-Christian society”...

{snip}

...Lt. Gen. Richard G. Moore Jr. made the comment at a Hudson Institute event Thursday while answering a question about how the Pentagon views autonomous warfare. The Department of Defense has been discussing AI ethics at its highest levels, said Moore, who is the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for plans and programs...


Remind me.

While pretty much the entirety of General Moore's Judea-Christian Society have lost their minds smushing Barbie and Oppenheimer together as the world's hottest vacation spots burn while tourists, who keep arriving by jet, flee...

Who was it, again, who dropped the bomb(s) in 1945?



_______
Tip O' The Toque to PZ Myers...who took things in a slightly different direction.


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Friday, July 21, 2023

HST Friday...It Is Us.


HinckleNotWenner
BirthedGonzoVille


...(U)nlike most of the others in the press box, we didn't give a hoot in hell what was happening on the track. We had come there to watch the real beasts perform...

...The face I was trying to find in Churchill Downs that weekend was a symbol, in my own mind, of the whole doomed atavistic culture that makes the Kentucky Derby what it is...

...(Ralph Steadman) had done a few good sketches, but so far we hadn't seen that special kind of face that I felt we would need for a lead drawing. It was a face I'd seen a thousand times at every Derby I'd ever been to. I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry--a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis...

...(Two days later)...with an hour or so to kill before (Steadman) had to catch the plane (home to England), we spread his drawings out on the table and pondered them for a while, wondering if he’d caught the proper spirit of the thing … but we couldn’t make up our minds. His hands were shaking so badly that he had trouble holding the paper, and my vision was so blurred that I could barely see what he’s drawn. “Shit,” I said. “We both look worse than anything you’ve drawn here.”

He smiled. “You know — I’ve been thinking about that,” he said. “We came down here to see this teddible scene: people all pissed out of their minds and vomiting on themselves and all that … and now, you know what? It’s us … ”
What if this week’s series of record-shattering high temperatures turned out to be tomorrow’s record low, the benchmark against which future years and decades of global warming will be measured?

That’s the chilling, provocative, entirely reasonable question that author and ArcTern Ventures co-founder Tom Rand raised on July 6, after July 3, 4, and 5 set new records for the highest average global temperature in more than 100,000 years.

“Instead of thinking about this year as the hottest so far, think of it as the coolest and calmest moment of what is to come,” Rand wrote. “A very different psychology kicks in, one our brains would normally discount/reject. But one that is much more useful, if alarming.”...

****

Norm Farrell, working with a combination of dogged determination, style and elan that I'm pretty sure even an atavistic swine herder like the long departed Docktor Thompson would admire, has most recently been focused on explaining how, precisely, the greedheads and their public relation minions (speaking of swine that need herding, preferably over cliffs) are doing their darndest to convince us that burning stuff made of carbon can still be a good thing for everyone concerned.

So.

Who's really to blame for this state of affairs?

Well, as I was riding in to the lab this morning, tires crunching their way through all the brown leaves that have already fallen from the chestnut trees in lower Kitsilano (in mid-July!), I was suddenly struck dumb by the realization that the blame...

...It is us.

OK?


____
Subheader?...This!
Previous HST Fridays can be found...Here.


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Thursday, July 20, 2023

Mr. Falcon's Latest Logic Pretzel.

HowDumbDoesHeThinkWe
AreVille


The day before yesterday an oversized commercial vehicle, travelling south after coming out of the Massey Tunnel on Highway 99, slammed into the Highway 17 overpass. This resulted in a southbound closure of 99 which, as you might expect, caused traffic to back up into and through the tunnel.

Not one to miss an opportunity to exploit an accident in the name of political expediency, the current leader of the soccer team party rushed to the scene with a member of his caucus from the other side of the tunnel and posted the following:






Hmmm....

Does that mean that there wouldn't be an overpass south of the tunnel for massive trucks to accidentally smash into if the free soccer enterprise team party were to revive their massive traffic infusion plan?

Perhaps we should re-roll the tape, or artist conception of that plan, as it were, to check:




Gosh.

Do you see what I see in the bottom portion of the image (i.e. south of Mr. Falcon's ten lane bridge over the river?


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Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The CBGB Theory Of City Planning...In Lotusland?


AllTheKids
ThatFitVille


I've got to admit that I find what Josh Feit, writing in PubliCola, the hyperlocal Seattle journal of politics and culture, has to say about what might be the best way for that town's downtown core to revitalize itself pretty appealing.

And, get this, it has nothing to do with new building and/or new housing starts, at least at first:

...The first step to reviving (Seattle's) downtown isn’t new housing, it starts with embracing the grim commercial real estate market, where vacancies recently increased from 22 percent to 24 percent...

 {snip}

...And as rents drop, the weirdos, rather than the big employers, move in. And by weirdos, I mean: creative-class, art-centric, small-scale retail...

{snip}

...Call it the CBGB theory of city planning. During the sluggish mid-to-late 1970s, New York City’s famously abandoned and spent Lower East Side neighborhood, where CBGB set up shop on Bowery, attracted waves of bohemians who turned the neighborhood into the epicenter of an urban shock wave that would change cities into magnetic destinations for brains, youth, talent, and commerce...


But what about here in Lotusland?

Could something like that, which certainly seemed to have happened in Kitsilano fifty plus years ago, happen here, in the here and now?

Somehow, I doubt it given that land is worth so much that there doesn't seem to be any room, either financial or three dimensional, for the weirdo first step to take hold before big money-backed gentrification stomps down, hard, on any and all Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Case in point....We live near a strip of Fraser in the 20's that went from dilapidated to glittering seemingly overnight.

And if we have no room for the weirdos and the kids, what the heck will we do then?


______
And then, of course, there is the bizarre situation out on the pointiest of the grey points out on our western-most edge where sizeable chunks of land ready-made for the stomping have suddenly been made available...This includes the Jericho Lands and what was once the heart of Pacific Spirit Park...But another chunk of terra firms that you may not have thought about recently is what used to be old Safeway site on 10th Avenue just east of the Gates of The West...The City Duo folks reported on the latest public meeting about the coming development of that site recently...Here.
And speaking of the lazy, crazy, relatively short-lived, endless summer days of Kitsilano's spin as Haight Ashbury, North...Eve Lazarus, whose blog is new to the Crawl over on the left side of the page for non-palm-based device users, recently had a post on the 'Peace House' on Pt. Grey Road where the likes of the Grateful Dead once hung out...What's really crazy about all that is, though it seems, in retrospect, like they are hugely separated in every way imaginable, including across time, the Peace House's most famous days took place only a decade before all that became infamous at the punk house located cross-townish at Gore and Union.
Buried ear worm in the end of post round-ups?...You bet!


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Monday, July 17, 2023

The Surrey Police Decision Brouhaha...Non-Disclosure Agreements A-Go-Go!


IsThisTheNDA
OrJustAnotherCountryVille


On Thursday June 15th, Surrey Council met in secret to vote in secret to support retaining the RCMP to police their city's citizenry on the basis, at least part, of a secret 'corporate report' generated by city staff that laid out how things (apparently) could and should be done.

During that day, and the next few days that followed, there were a number of messages that went back and forth between members of the staffs of Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke and provincial Solicitor General Mike Farnworth trying to set up a meeting between the two to discuss the matter.

Farnworth's chief of staff made it clear that the minister would only meet with the mayor after he had read the above mentioned report to ensure that what Surrey was proposing was actually possible.

The following Monday, June 19th, Locke held a press conference and called Farnworth a bully and a misogynist whose office was sending aggressive messages on the basis of an Email one of her staff members received from Farnworth's office on Friday June 16th.

The Vancouver Sun's Joseph Ruttle reported on the matter thusly at the time:

... Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke called a press conference and accused (Farnworth) and Premier David Eby of “fearmongering.” Locke said she and Farnworth have yet to talk, outside of an “aggressive” email sent by one of his staffers on Friday...

{snip}

...(Locke) went on to call Farnworth a “bully” and claimed the way she’s been treated smacks of “misogyny.”...


Now, a month later, we can read that allegedly 'aggressive' Email from Friday June 19th that was sent by Farnworth's chief of staff to Locke's executive assistant at 9:47pm that night.

It comes our way thanks to an FOI release that was reported on by Bob Mackin in Business in Vancouver this past Friday:

..."Minister Farnworth would like to meet with Mayor Locke per her request," Snoddon wrote. "The Minister is looking to receive the corporate report as agreed to in order to schedule a meeting. My understanding from staff is that the city has not transferred the report to the province at this time of my email. As you know, this is a very urgent matter. Can you please let me know when I can expect to receive the report?"...


Which is all fine and good and says something about what is considered 'aggressive' discourse between local and provincial government officials.

But here is something more troubling, at least to my mind:

...(Surrey Mayor) Locke also told reporters that provincial officials signed the NDAs at 11:27 a.m. (Monday June 19th), just like the provincial officials required Locke and company to sign to read the province's late April report that recommended adopting the SPS (Surrey Police Service)...


Gosh.

NDA's (a.ka. non-disclosure/confidentiality/secrecy agreements) everywhere for secret reports between government entities about a matter that is of crucial importance to the public lives of the citizens of Surrey.

Why are we doing things this way?


______
Now, before you argue that it's reasonable
to keep things secret because so much is sensitive in these matters, Surrey has just released it's most recent 'Corporate Report' on this matter which includes the provincial government report as one of the appendices...See if you can find anything there that the public should not be able to see, read and discuss?...I sure as heck can't.
Meanwhile...As Gordon Hoekstra pointed out in the Sun late last week...The province's decision, via Farnworth, should be coming this week...At issue may be some of the projections in the Surrey Corp Report...Especially those that say most of the folks hired by the SPS will join the RCMP to fill the ranks.
Earworm burrowing through the sub-header?....This!



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Friday, July 14, 2023

Mr. Zuckerberg Is Not Your Friend.


FairShare?
WeDon'tNeedToPayNoStinkingFairShareVille


As of noon today, July 14, 2023...






And, as for switching to 'Threads' to avoid the clutches of he who grew his (only) profitable businesses via government subsidy, well...

...Threads potentially collects a wide assortment of personal data that remains connected to you, based on the information available in Apple’s App Store, from your purchase history and physical address to your browsing history and health information. “Sensitive information” is also listed as a type of data collected by the Threads app. Some information this could include is your race, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, and religion as well as your biometric data...


Bad enough, right?

Well, how about the thread bear(ish) 'Supplemental Privacy Policy':

...A noteworthy detail from this document is that while you’re able to deactivate your Threads account whenever, you must delete your Instagram if you fully want to delete your Threads account...


Yup.

That's right.

Once you buy in to Threads you're all in if you are already on, with apologies to Raffi, the Gram-O-Phone.

In other words, think carefully before you do something that you might have great difficulty undoing.


____
Why are the digital overlords fighting so hard here in little ol' Canuckistan?...Sure, there is the concern that they might have to pay some kind of tax (in whatever form that takes) on the low ten figures they jack out of the Canadian economy every year...But this is really a continental beach head battle in a fair share war that started way across the ocean....So, if the legislative tax offensive succeeds here, well....It's only a hop, skip and a wee jump across the 49th parallel on the way south and westward to California.



.



Any Day Is A Good Day For Some Todd Snider.



It'sAlwaysThreeO'ClockInTheMorning
SomewhereVille


The video above, shot very recently in Memphis, captures Todd Snider and friends doing that old John Prine hit about an Alabama angel.

Snider, who was a great friend of the even greater Jerry Jeff Walker, was also one of the online musical yeopersons of the pandemic times.

So.

Why put this up here now?

Because Otis Gibbs, who is all that is good about what is still DIY on the internet, said I could.

That's why.


______
Another snippet from the Tubez for today?...Fran Drescher speaking truth to Greedheads and pretendian progressives like, say, Scott Galloway.
Here's something I didn't know...Carly Simon recorded Mr. Prine's tune way back in the day but her record company shelved it for more than two decades before it saw the the light of day on a box set retrospective in 1995...Have to wonder if and/or how the early royalty jackpot would have changed the former mailman's career trajectory.


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Thursday, July 13, 2023

What If...Richard Nixon Had Never Been President?



ThePoliticsOf
JoyVille



As 1974 dawned, it was becoming increasingly clear that Richard Nixon's US'ian presidency was doomed.

At that time, writing not for Jann Wenner and his hippie rag, but instead for Punch Sulzberger's New York Times, Hunter Thompson had this to say:

...Richard Nixon is living in the White House today because of what happened that night in Chicago (in 1968). Hubert Humphrey lost that election by a handful of votes — mine among them — and if I had to do it again I would still vote for Dick Gregory.

If nothing else, I take a certain pride in knowing that I helped spare the nation eight years of President Humphrey — an Administration that would have been equally corrupt and wrongheaded as Richard Nixon's, far more devious, and probably. just competent enough to keep the ship of state from sinking until 1976. Then with the boiler about to explode from eight years of blather and neglect, Humphrey's cold‐war liberals could have fled down the ratlines and left the disaster to whoever inherited it...


So.

What if Chicago mayor Richard Daley's trigger finger had been restrained and all of the rioting and bashing of young people's heads had never happened during the fateful 1968 Democratic National Convention?

Would that have made it possible for the young radical left that sent Lyndon Johnson packing earlier that year to embrace Hubert Humphrey and his cynical 'Politics of Joy' just enough to give 'The Hube', pictured above, the oomph he needed to defeat Richard Nixon for president later that fall?

And if, as Thompson speculated in his NYT OpEd, there had thus been eight years of a Humphrey Administration that kept all the cold-war liberals in line, would so many of them have jumped aboard the neo-liberal bandwagon that still plagues us today.

And, perhaps most importantly, if Humphrey had won, who would have been the Republican nominee in 1976? Personally, I don't think that it is inconceivable to think that the country club wing of the party of Lincoln would have made moderate, and former four time New York governor, Nelson Rockefeller their man.

And if Rockefeller had become president in 1976, the bicentennial year, would Reaganism and all the extremism it has wrought even exist?

Any way you slice it, it would be a very different world today.


____
When The Hube tried to swoop in and swipe the Democratic nomination from George McGovern late in the 1972 primary season, the good Docktor took to calling Humphrey a 'treacherous, gutless old ward-heeler'... 
Another thing to consider...If Rockefeller had been president when he died of a sudden heart attack under somewhat mysterious circumstances in 1979, who would his VP, who would then have likely ascended to the throne, have been?


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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

BC NDP...Following Obama's Unfortunate Lead.


RealProgressIsNot
AThreeLeggedStoolVille


Look.

I understand that John Horgan, Geoff Meggs and the BCNDP braintrust first had gain and then consolidate power.

After all, as our old friend Ian Reid used to say, if you're not in government you can't do a darned thing.

However, like many others on the left side of the ledger around here, I remember all the promises of hope and change that preceded the provincial Dippers' razor thin victory in 2017.

But along the line something went wrong.

And it is, in my opinion, something that has gone wrong with most, if not all, center-left governments since the days that Bill Clinton made triangulation famous and Tony Blair convinced a whole lot of folks that 'new' Labour was still actually, you know, Labour. 

Case in point, the government of Barack Obama.

Cory Doctorow explains:

.... (In 2008) Obama's grassroots was the most successful netroots in history. Talented coders and digital strategists figured out how to leverage the internet to identify, mobilize and coordinate volunteers across the country. And while netroots activists did their work across the whole internet, their home base was a server the Obama campaign controlled. Once Obama won, they switched that server off.

You see, the rabble is useful when you're out there, trying to turn voters out to the polls. But if you plan to spend your term in office playing eleven dimensional chess, you don't want the mob jostling your elbow and shouting in your ear.

If FDR's (possibly apocryphal) motto was "I want to do it, now make me do it"; Obama's was "I want to do it, now go away." Rather than surrounding himself with the great unwashed, Obama created a cabinet of technocrats, grownups from the upper ranks of industry and the consultant class...


But what about 'Obamacare' (i.e. 'The Affordable Care Act') you may be asking?

Well, as Doctorow also points out, in his effort to reach eleventh level technocratic triangulatory Valhalla instead of going all in with a version of 'Medicare For All', Obama pretty much ensured that even his signature legislative achievement would ultimately fizzle out for the great majority of folks that voted for his initial promise of  'Hope and Change':

...The Affordable Care Act was a carefully triangulated compromise, one that guaranteed a massive flow of public cash to America's wildly profitable health insurance monopoly and steered clear of any socialist whiff that Americans would get their care from the government.

The ACA was an technocrat's iron-clad dream policy. It would work! After all, it "aligned the incentives" of healthcare investors and "harnessed markets" to drive efficiency...

{snip}

That's not how it worked out. Prior to ACA's passage, 85% of Americans had health insurance. Today, it's 90%. That's not nothing! 5% of the US is more than 16m people. But what about the 85% – 282m people – who were insured before the ACA? Their insurance costs have doubled – from an average of $15,609 for a family of four in 2009 to $30,260 today. Obama promised that ACA would lower the average family's insurance bill by $2,500/year – but instead, insurance costs increased by some $15,000...


And what and who did just enough US'ian's vote for after Obama?


****

So.

Getting back to our current provincial situation...

What is a center-left government like the current BCNDP regime of David Eby and former Visionista Matt Smith to do?

Well, how about they stop with the half measures, prioritize, and enact signature pieces of legislation that really matter. 

And then get out there and explain what they are doing and why - long and hard.

Oh.

And one more thing.

Don't be afraid to lose.

After all, while Dave Barrett's government may have only lasted three years, almost half a century later we still have ICBC, the ALR, a Human Rights Code, Pharmacare, Question Period in the Ledge, Hansard, and (something my kids will be forever thankful for) French Immersion.

OK?


_______
Image at the top of the post?...From 2012 at Bear Flat in the Peace River Valley...Ken Boon, writing last year in the Alaska Highway News, explains...
Don't get me wrong...I understand why Mr. Horgan had to go out his way to demonstrate that he was not, as the usual suspects clamoured to tag him, 'Dr. No'...It's just that it's also important to make 'Yes' happen in ways that truly matter.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

History Lesson, Part II - Little Mountain.



(Please note: The image above is a photo-illustration in which Gordon Campbell campaign signs, circa 2009, have been photoshopped into an image of one of the Little Mountain social housing units that would soon be demolished.)



This week The Tyee published a piece by Jen St. Denis that returned to the scene of one of the former BC Liberal government's most egregious crimes - the developer-friendly sweetheart deal that kicked more than two hundred families out of their homes fourteen years ago for no good reason at all:

...In the 15 years since Vancouver-based developer Holborn Group bought the 6.2-hectare site, it’s remained largely empty — a frustration for neighbours, city residents and local politicians in a city known for its housing woes...

 {snip}

 ...For five years, David Chudnovsky, a former NDP MLA, fought to make the sale agreement between the B.C. government and Holborn public through a freedom of information request. When that sales agreement finally came to light in 2021, the province confirmed that Holborn had paid just $35 million of the $334-million sales price.

In 2013, the then-BC Liberal government approved a five-year extension on a $211-million loan given to Holborn, extending the interest-free loan to 2026 — a benefit worth about $9.5 million to the developer based on provincial borrowing costs at the time. The developer also received a low-interest loan for $88 million to complete the social housing...

 ****

And with that, we move on to the history lesson...

As you may (or may not) recall, the pro media-fuelled pitch to we, the people, back in the day was that this deal was going to provide $300 million, plus, to finance new social housing projects throughout the province. 

Which, of course, we now know was total hokum given that the province did not, and still has not yet, received the great bulk of the cash from the sale (/not sale).

But something else was going on around here as 2008 rolled over and became 2009.

Which is that the BC government of the day, led by then premier Gordon Campbell, was putting together a balanced budget in the wake of a global recession in which he and his minions literally made up approximately $2.5 billion in revenue as they prepared for a re-election campaign later that spring.

After the fact, most of this faux revenue was attributed to bogus tax revenue projections.

However, the pretend revenue from the 'sale-not-sale' of the Little Mountain lands was very likely buried in all that phoney revenue as well.

Why do we come to that conclusion?

Because, a few years later, Christy Clark's then finance minister Michael de Jong quietly removed most of the revenue the government never received from the 2008 'sale-not-sale' in a budget update tabled in fall of 2012:




Here's what I wrote about all that a few years ago:

...(This) got me thinking of the long con of the original budget bump that occurred with the sale of the land back in 2008.

And the conclusion I came to is that all those families and, as we now know for certain, all British Columbians, were screwed so that the BC Liberals could claim, yet again, that they were running a surplus in the run-up to the last of the GordCo, Inc. election victories the following spring.

My, but that 'Golden Era' sure does have a long tail, eh?...


And the worst, most tragic part of all this political skullduggery from days gone by?

Well...

As Ms. St Denis' story this week made clear, the great majority of even the bare replacement social housing on the Little Mountain site where all those families lost their homes fourteen years ago has still not been built:

...Despite all the taxpayer-funded help, today the site is still an expanse of long grass and wildflowers. A chain-link fence is adorned with Holborn advertising banners that say, “Great Stories Take Time to Write.”...


Sheesh.


____
And, in case you were wondering...A history lesson on that other 'sale not sale' event from days of yore is coming...
And yes...We have archives...And, yes, I plan to keep using them.


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Monday, July 10, 2023

All Zones Must Be Flooded With Impunity.

Research?
WeDon'tNeedNoStinkingResearchVille



When it comes to disinformation, it's not just the content but also the volume per unit area that matters.

A fine purveyor of the 'cover them with mountains of craptacular disinformational content' strategy, Mr. Stephen K. Bannon, explained the strategy back in the salad days of his former boss' presidency (i.e. 2018):

“The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”


So.

How to deal with it all?

Well, it turns out that there are actually academics out there researching the issue with goal of figuring out how we can deal with it.

And, as you might expect, the craptacularists are out there flooding the zone with shite hoses from all angles doing their best to disinform the public of the work of those whose research is designed to deal with the disinformation.

Confused?*

Jeff Tollefsen, writing in Nature, has the story:

Researchers who study how disinformation spreads are under investigation in the United States for allegedly helping to censor conservative opinions about COVID-19 vaccines and government elections. Jim Jordan, a US representative for Ohio, is leading the charge against the scientists. He is also one of the Republican leaders who have suggested that the Democrats have stolen the 2020 presidential election from former president Donald Trump, and who have made unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud...


And, to be clear, it's not just whackadoodles in the US'ian Congress and the shite spreaders on the internets who are doing this.

Jurists of a certain bent are getting in on the act as well:

...(O)n 4 July, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction barring US agencies from interacting with social-media companies, with the purpose of “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing” them to remove content. The order by judge Terry Doughty, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, also banned federal agencies from working with disinformation researchers...


On the Fourth of July?

In America?

The irony!


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*The whole goal of this approach,
whether it be about elections, vaccines, or Hunter Biden's (perhaps non-existent) laptop is to confuse everyone so much that no one can figure out what, if anything, is actually a ground truth...



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Sunday, July 09, 2023

The Chairman Of The Board vs. The Wordsmith.



AWholeLottaGold
GordVille


When we are at my Dad's place over on the Island for Father's Day I (temporarily, promise!) swiped a reasonably recent Gordon Lightfoot biography by Canadian music chronicologist Nicholas Jennings.

It's a straight-up, rapid fire telling of the guy's life that doesn't go that deep, which is understandable given how close Lightfoot kept everything to his chest.

But I did learn a thing of twenty, including how much differently Lightfoot wrote his autobiographical songs, which were all brush strokes and spontaneously prosed, compared to his historical story songs that were meticulously researched and worked over, sometimes even after they were recorded*.

And then there is the fact that, after he cut Albert Grossman loose, Lightfoot pretty much controlled everything, including his publishing and his touring, via his Early Morning Productions.

Which brings us to 'Early Morning Rain', a tune that has been covered on the order 300 times, which must of kept, and likely still is keeping, the cash register ringing.

Now, you likely recall the Ian and Sylvia, and the Peter, Paul and Mary versions of Rain, but who knew that a little hippy band from San Francisco called the Warlocks also recorded it in 1965 before they became The Grateful Dead (see above).

Heckfire, a few years later even Frank Sinatra came calling looking a little of that old Lightfoot magic.

Lightfoot gave Sinatra 'If You Could Read My Mind' and the Chairman Of The Board was all set to record it after it had first been re-arranged into a semi-swinging 'Summer Windian' - type thing backed with an orchestra.

But then, as the orchestra started to play, Sinatra threw the lead sheets on the floor and exclaimed:

'Forget it. I can't sing this. There's too many words.'


Imagine that!


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In addition to Dylan
, whom Lightfoot had a weird passive/aggressive relationship with,  even Elvis recorded 'Early Morning Rain' and was still performing it in the summer of 1977 shortly before he left the building for good...
As for an historical story song that was lyrically modified after the fact...Late in his life Lightfoot changed 'The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald' to make it clear that it was more likely a rogue wave, and not a hatch left unsecured by the crew that led to the ship's demise.


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Wednesday, July 05, 2023

History Lesson, Part I...To The Condo!


BannedIn
Lotusland


By now, you've likely heard that Mr. Mark Marissen and a number of his 'progressive' minions have been banned from running for civic office through 2026.

Bob Mackin, writing in Business in Vancouver, summarizes the details:

...Elections BC cited Progress Vancouver for multiple violations: Taking a non-permissible loan of $50,000; receiving donations without reporting the required information (missing or incomplete contributor names and addresses); prohibited campaign contributions from outside B.C.; and contributions more than the annual limit...


Regarding that $50K loan, which Mr. Marissen says he took because he didn't know that big money donations had been banned and because he received bad legal advice from an as yet unnamed lawyer, Mr. Mackin was on that story back in February of this year:

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

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

{snip}

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


But that was then and this is now, and the 'non-permissible loan' has still not been re-paid.

So, what was the good Mr. Marissen to do?

Why, gather all his friends and influential uncles for a fundraiser of course!

From Mr. Mackin's most recent piece:

...In a June 18 Facebook post, Marissen posed for a photograph with (Jason) McLean in a Coal Harbour condo at a fundraiser aimed at paying off campaign debts: “It’s much more challenging afterwards — every bit helps,” Marissen wrote.

Also present were former B.C. premier and Marissen’s ex-wife Christy Clark, former Vancouver mayor and former BC Liberal MLA Sam Sullivan, ex-Liberal MP Herb Dhaliwal and Daoping Bao, the CEO of Burnaby’s Smart Label Solutions, where Marissen is on the advisory board...


All the usual super-fine folks, given Mr. Marissen's ties to the BC and Federal Liberals, right?

But Herb Dhaliwal?

Isn't that a bit of a surprise you might be asking yourself (and/or half remembering)?

Well.

It's now time for the history lesson, as told by the venerable Paul Willcocks writing in BC Business way, way back in 2007:

...There is no denying the Marissen team played rough. The most infamous episode saw the (Paul) Martin forces take over the riding association of (then Liberal) MP and Chr├ętien supporter Herb Dhaliwal in 2002, while Dhaliwal was out of the country and his wife was dying of cancer. The takeover not only locked up delegate support for Martin; it killed Dhaliwal’s chances of running again. He blames (David) Basi and others on Marissen’s team, complaining of questionable mass sign-ups of instant Liberals...


Gosh.

So many names, so much history.

Stay tuned for the next installment...



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Header comes from Mr. Mike Watt, infamous bass player and historian of the musical underground...And former member of  The Minutemen.

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Monday, July 03, 2023

Man Of La Merger Says...Merge More!

QuixoticMaybe
ButNeitherTheDonNorCervantesVille


Mr. Conrad Black, the man who once controlled 59 of 105 of Canada's daily newspapers, writing under the headline 'How the Postmedia-Nordstar merger can save journalism' in the National Post, leads with the following:

"It was announced this week that advanced negotiations are underway for an effective merger between Nordstar Capital, the publisher of the Toronto Star and the Metroland suburban newspapers, and Postmedia, which publishes this newspaper as well as the Sun newspapers and the principal English-language daily newspapers in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. This is not surprising, as both companies have been losing money, which is a process that even our governments in all their profligacy will eventually discover cannot continue indefinitely. The commercial advantage of such an arrangement would be to merge the business aspects of the two companies, while maintaining editorial separation: the savings would be considerable, at no cost to editorial quality..."


Leaving aside the gratuitous comment about 'our governments' for the moment*, anyone who reads the Vancouver Sun and the Province with any regularity, and has any historical memory of Lotuslandian newspapers past whatsoever, would very likely beg to differ that such mergers have 'no cost to editorial quality' not to mention all the jobs lost to the considerable 'savings'.

Mr. Black goes on to explain, in his view at least, how things got this way:

"...Both groups have had a rocky recent financial history and an uneven editorial performance..."


Gosh.

Given that statement, and all the explanatory fodder that follows it, the inattentive reader might assume that the real problem driving all this loss of big media profitability is financial history and editorial performance and not, say, the de-monetization of massive legacy newspaper chains that were built to rely on economies of scale that have been dismantled, piece-by-profitable-piece, by the machinations of de-regulated digital disruption.

Well.

It turns out that good Mr. Black, does mention the internet when it comes to providing a rationale for why he and his 'associates' got out of the 'Postmedia' side of the nouveau mega-merger side of the equation  back at the turn of the century:

"...Postmedia, a company whose principal assets were assembled by my associates and myself, including the National Post, which Ken Whyte and I founded in 1998, became entangled in the financial difficulties of the succeeding owners, after we made the strategic decision to depart the business after carefully considering the implications of the internet..."

Gosh.

That was some strategic decision, that decision to divest himself of all those merged newspaper assets way back in the year 2000 after carefully considering the 'implications of the internet'.

But here's the thing.

It's not like all those the 'implications of the internet' have lessened in the ensuing twenty-three years, right?

So, given that all that, how can Mr. Black expect one more massive newspaper chain merger to save anything at all in the year 2023?

The key, says Mr. Black, is to 'increase their quality':

"...The way to operate newspapers now is not to keep reducing quality by cutting costs, in a race to the bottom against declining revenues, but to increase their quality, which can be done relatively cheaply as it is a distressed industry and there are many talented journalists who are underemployed or doing work that they don’t enjoy. If the quality of the product rises, cover prices can be raised and more of the revenue base can be contributed by the proceeds of newspaper sales..."


Hmmmm...

Once again, I refer the reader back to Mr. Black's initial comments regarding how mergers result in cost-cutting savings while maintaining editorial separation and all that did to 'increase the quality' of the two daily newspapers currently produced by Postmedia in Vancouver.

As a counter-point, it is my opinion that the one, and perhaps only, time that Mr. Black himself significantly increased the quality of newspapers in this country was not due to any merger that reduced competition. Instead, it occurred when Mr. Black and his 'associates' themselves increased competition when they started, wait for it...

...The National Post.

Heckfire (and I can't believe I'm actually going to type this)...

On this one I actually agree with Barbara Kay.

OK?


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*'Our governments' according to the Lord of Crossharbour?...Yes, that's right!...In case you missed it,  the good Lord Black is once again, as of this very spring, a Canadian citizen.


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Sunday, July 02, 2023

The Genius of Cousin Mose.


BastardsOf
NoneVille


On the surface at least, the life of TV writer Michael Schur, who also played Dwight Schrute's ping pong playing cousin Mose in the non-Brentian version of The Office, has a life so wonderful that it combines all the best accomplishments of both George and Peter Bailey.

After getting into Harvard on what may or may not have been the legacy ticket, Schur went on to run the infamous Lampoon. After graduation in 1997, Schur was almost immediately hired by Dr. Evil to write for Saturday Night Live and was soon in charge of Weekend Update, starting with the first show after 9/11. A few years later he left SNL to write for, and occasionally act in, Greg Daniels' US version of Ricky Gervais' and Stephen Merchants' ode to those who sell paper. Then, mid-run, Schur left Dunder Mifflin and turned what was supposed to be a spin-off into an entirely new show, Parks and Recreation. After that the shows just tumbled out, from Brooklyn Nine-Nine-Nine to The Good Place to Masters of None to Rutherford Falls to Hacks, and so on.

Beneath the humour, the set pieces, and the softening of stereotypes (i.e. Rutherford Falls had an indigenous show runner and tried to mostly do the right thing but it was no Reservation Dogs) the underlying theme of most Schur projects is that there is an inherent goodness at the core of the human condition.

Apparently, at least according to a piece in Schur's old school paper, it's a philosophical thing.

Given all that, I was really looking forward to Schur's coming adaptation of W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe, which had gone into heavy pre-production that included the building of a yet another ball field deep in the corn rows of Iowa, when the streaming service financing the project suddenly pulled the plug last summer.

Which is a real bummer but likely says more about the current state of the streaming business than the genius and/or philosophical bent of Michael Schur.

****

At this point it's important for me to note that, while I pursued lots of sports as a kid, I was crap at baseball and never played for real, not even in Little League.

But later, while still a kid, albeit in gradual school, I fell victim to all those free tickets that Stu Kehoe used to give out like candy at gas stations. As a result, often together with C., I got hooked on the local Lotuslandian, then Triple A, minor league team. The hook went in even deeper when the chief troublemaker up in the Nat Bailey's bleachers relented and let me write stuff for his monthly rag.

After that, especially after we moved to California, I went a little bit bonkers, spending hundreds of dollars a year on Baseball Weekly and America scouting prospects to draft and follow for fantasy purposes, pre-internet.

And while following all those prospects, for real, I once caught a foul ball behind home plate in San Jose while holding a then infant-sized tiny e. in my arms.

Which is just a way of explaining why, after I heard his baseball TeeVee show had been dumped, I decided to go hunting for evidence that Schur actually cared about the game.

It turns out that the evidence is everywhere.

First, there is a podcast he does with a veteran wordsmith Joe Posnanski wherein the pair of pontificators are as likely to spend two hours talking about the intricacies and/or validities of the most arcane of Sabremetric statistics as they are to start making up new wings for the Hall of Fame based on each inductee's acts of pure awesomeness, either on or off the field.

But the real gem I stumbled upon recently is, wait for it...


Yes, a good old fashioned linear type-type blog from the dinosaur times (i.e. 2005 to 2008) wherein Schur and a couple of other TeeVee writer types spilled barrel after barrel of pixel ink making fun of any and all manner of baseball 'media' inanities*

Now that's entertainment!


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*And yes, the inclusion, despite what I learned from Mrs. Griffiths in grade two, of three 'types' in one sentence was purposeful!
At first I couldn't figure out why there were so few comments posted on the blog in question...And then I realized that the entire thing was written prior to the 2009 Haloscan massacre that wiped out bloggerly discourse pretty much everywhere at the time. In fact, the massacre even disappeared almost 10,000 comments at this little F-Troop listed endeavour...
Very bizarre, and yet somehow fitting, ear worm from the sub-header given that fellow Harvard alum and Master of None co-creator Alan Yang was also one the baseball blog guys?...This!


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