Monday, July 22, 2024

The Strong Man Alliance.


"I get along very well with President Xi. Great guy. He wrote me a beautiful note the other day..."

"Kim Jong-un. He's a lotta nuclear weapons. I got along with him great."

"And Orban was right. We have to have somebody who can protect us.

Donald Trump


Friday, July 19, 2024

He's Baaaack!!!


Donald Trump's very own Paulie Walnuts Manafort is back, on both the Republic Convention floor and in the inner sanctum.

Emptywheel, who knows a thing or two million, opines on what this means:

...Among all the other criminals and insurrectionists, Manafort no longer sticks out.

And with JD Vance’s selection as VP, Manafort’s support for a pro-Russian Ukraine also looks banal, rather than alarming. But there is likely a backstory few want to pursue.

Back in May, when Paul Manafort’s return was first reported and then denied, 24sight described how (as he had done in 2016), Paulie had been and kept working the back channel...


...Trump is running not just as someone who explicitly wants to be a Dictator from Day One, someone who supports all the same policies as a Project that targets divorce and birth control along with the very idea of civil service.

He is running with Russian help on a plan to give Russia what it wants, starting, but not ending, with Ukraine on a silver platter.

Trump, and the guy Trump pardoned for lying about what happened with Russia in 2016, are simply picking up where things left off.

Obvious Earworm
in the SubHeader Machine...This!


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

His Most Exalted Excellency, Lord Governor Of The Albertalands?


In case you missed it, pardoned criminal and serial passport changer Mr. Conrad Black is no longer a member of Great Britain's House of Lords:

Former media baron Conrad Black, who famously but unsuccessfully sued then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in his fight to secure a British peerage, has been removed from the House of Lords over his lax attendance.

House of Lords Speaker Lord McFall announced Wednesday (July 10th) that a number of lords have ceased to be members of the House "by virtue of non-attendance," including the Montreal-born Black, known as Lord Black of Crossharbour...

Mr. Black's response?

...When reached Wednesday, Black said he not aware that his membership had been terminated. He told CBC News it didn't really matter to him but he was surprised he wasn't notified first...

But don't cry for he, former Lord Tubby.

After all, given that it was one Mr. Donald J. Trump who pardoned Mr. Black for his federal US'ian crimes...

If and when the petrolbraum portion of the 2025 doctrine is invoked and David Climenhaga's Albertalands are annexed to ensure that fossil fuel extraction keeps on keepin' on, would it be any surprise if Mr. Trump were to name the good Mr. Black governor?

Snark (def'n):
an attitude or expression of mocking irreverence and sarcasm.


Monday, July 15, 2024

For Graham.


A few months ago, after Mr. Musk started re-directing anything on his platform with in it to his new web address, I wrote a post about how this could be a bonanza for those who try to make their living by phishing.

And, while the post was about, essentially, internet fraud, I couldn't help myself by making a non-material aural connection, paired with a dig, to the band Phish.

Which led reader Graham to gently explain why he enjoyed the band together with a helpful example of a song that could be used to ease one's way into the band's sonic world.

And, having taken Graham's (real, not fauX) bait, I must say that my appreciation of Phish evolved a little after I gave stuff like the following a long listen while banging away at the keyboard down in the subterranean homesick bluesroom a few Saturday's ago:


Today, Marc Maron posted one of his longest of long form interviews with Phish guitarist and frequent songwriter, Trey Anastasio.

It's an example of why Maron is the godfather of the long form podcast because this one goes literally everywhere for a good one hour and forty minutes, sans the ACasting and the noodling.

I learned a lot and I know that Graham will really enjoy it (if he hasn't already listened given the long arm of the Phish-Head law).



Saturday, July 13, 2024

Peace With (Dis)Honour?


The only real question is...

Will that be the Richard Nixon version or the Neville Chamberlain version?

Not that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive, particularly when it comes to Ukraine.

Tip 'O The Toque
to the the imitable emptywheel.
Dan Nexon, writing at LGM, has a detailed analysis of the 'mission'.


Friday, July 12, 2024

Would You Buy A Self-Driving System From This Man('s Data)?


Well, well, well.

Would'a thunk it.

It turns out that there are grunts in the machine.

Tesla's machine learning machine that is:

Tesla's self-driving cars seem like a marvel of machine learning.

But in reality, the company relies on a small army of human "data annotators" who continuously improve how the cars drive by reviewing camera footage from thousands of Tesla drivers and teaching the vehicle how to behave like a human driver, like deciding when it's appropriate to use a blinker or identifying a construction cone.

Business Insider has learned that those annotators focus their efforts on two high-profile categories of drivers: Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a select set of "VIP" drivers...

So, there you have it.

If you buy a car from the good Mr. Musk and you take your hands off the wheel you just might drive like him.

But is that really the goal of the fine folks at Tesla who control the grunts/annotators?

Perhaps not:

...(Business Insider) spoke with over a dozen current and former Tesla employees, all but one who spoke on condition of anonymity, who said images and video clips from Musk's Teslas received meticulous scrutiny, while data from high-profile drivers like YouTubers received "VIP" treatment in identifying and addressing issues with the Full Self-Driving software. 

The result is that Tesla's Autopilot and FSD software may better navigate routes taken by Musk and other high-profile drivers, making their rides smoother and more straightforward...


Could it be that the grunts have actually been told to very carefully input data into the machine that will give their boss and his friends super smooth hands- and mind-free rides on their most used routes that the peons laying out the moola for his vehicles will never get?

And if that were the case would it be a surprise?

Awhile back we had a super sharp post-doc in the group who developed a machine learning-based pipeline to 'predict' the functional importance of gene variants found in the population based on the levels and sub-cellular location of the protein product of said gene. The analysis itself was quite straightforward but it was amazing how important the original calls by the grunts/annotators looking down the barrel of the microscope were in helping to 'train' the machine (being a grunt with discerning eyeballs was actually my job in the project)...This labour-intensive front end of such projects, I think, is not that well appreciated.


Wednesday, July 10, 2024

What, Exactly, Is The Plan Of The French Left?


First, what is this 'new' French left we have been going on about in the last couple of posts?

Noted humanist FrancoEcon guy Thomas Picketty, writing with his colleague Julia Cage in the Guardian, explains:

...This alliance takes its inspiration from the Popular Front – which in 1936 emerged under the threat of fascism to govern France. This leftwing coalition of socialists and communists represented a real change for the working classes, with policies such as the introduction of a two-week paid vacation and a law limiting the working week to 40 hours. Such social change was made possible by electoral victory, but also by the demands of civil society and by pressure from the trade unions, which organised a wave of factory occupations. There was a clear sociopolitical competition between working people and the ruling classes that led to a political conflict between the left and right...

In other words, the argument is that this New Popular Front (NPF) is the real deal rather than the soft, squishy faux social deal that the French were most recently served, as reader Danneau has noted, by Mitterrand and Hollande.

But what is this NPF proposing to do, exactly?

Back to Cage and Piketty...

...The detailed NFP economic manifesto was launched last month with full costings. Because – and this is new – the NFP’s plans are balanced from a budgetary viewpoint: investment in future growth and productivity as well as in energy and climate transition could be made affordable through progressive wealth taxation, the introduction of an exit tax, effective taxation of multinational firms and a long-awaited fight against social, fiscal and environmental dumping. This programme would also give workers more power within the companies that employ them by improving corporate governance (for example, reserving a third of seats on company boards for employees’ representatives, following similar provisions that have existed for decades in Nordic countries and Germany)...

Now, of course, if the NPF can do even half of that it will be a great victory for all, especially those folks most feeling the squeeze of late stage capitalism's end game.

And, again according to Cage and Piketty, truly helping those most squeezed is the real key to effectively dealing with the rise of the far right:

...(P)eople in smaller cities and rural areas are drawn to the far right first and foremost because of socioeconomic concerns: they lack purchasing power, they suffer most from the lack of investment in public infrastructure and they feel that they have been abandoned by governments of all stripes in recent decades.

The NFP’s policy platform credibly addresses how to finance a strategy of inclusive investment. By contrast, the far right argues in favour of repealing the existing tax on real-estate multi-millionaires. It claims it will finance its policies by targeting foreigners and welfare recipients, but this will simply generate more economic disillusionment and more tensions.

In doing a little background digging on Piketty I learned that he refused the Legion of Honour because, according to him, 'it is (not) the government's role to decide who is honourable'....Imagine that!


Tuesday, July 09, 2024

What Can The French Left Do Now?


Yesterday, we noted how the French Left rose to the occasion electorally on Sunday in a way that seems to have stymied, at least for now, the rise of the racists who are pretending they aren't.

But now that the French Left has a chance to do something, what should they do?

One of the original members of Left Blogistan, Ian Welsh, a guy who is still as prolific as ever, has a few ideas:

...For the Left to take over in the next election they need to deliver at least a bit. It may not be impossible: the right might vote with them on some issues, such as rolling back the pension age increase (which they opposed) and they may be able to convince the center to vote with them on other issues.

In addition, when they are stopped from pursuing popular policies like taxing the rich to pay for social programs, they need to scream to high heavens and make the case that with a majority they will be able to deliver their entire program.

Much of the problem in France has been that when Neoliberals want to do the right thing, like fight climate change, they do it in the most regressive way possible, hurting workers and farmers, rather than making the rich pay. Outlawing private jets and taxing the rich, then using the money to pay farmers to make necessary changes rather than forcing farmers to take the hit is a winning policy...

In other words, Ian is saying that the French Left now has a chance to step on the proverbial CO2-free gas pedal and that they should do so rather than triangulating away into the non-productive nothingness of half measures that has become the dominant NeoLib way.

But can that possibly work?

Stay tuned for the next post...


Monday, July 08, 2024

How Did The French Left Do It?


By now you've probably heard about this, summarized by Jon Henley in the Guardian:

The New Popular Front (NFP), a four-party left-green alliance, was the shock winner of Sunday’s French parliamentary election, returning 182 deputies to a 577-seat assembly now split between three large opposing blocs, none with a majority...


Leaving aside all the hung/not hung parliament business to come for the moment...

How did the NFP actually do it?

...The NFP was cobbled together in haste after President Macron decided to dissolve parliament last month following his camp’s heavy defeat in the European elections, with the far-right National Rally (RN) polling at more than 30%.


...So as not to split the anti-RN vote in potential three-way runoffs, the NFP stood down 132 mainly third-placed candidates. But more than 80 centrists also pulled out in favour of NFP candidates, and many centrist and centre-right supporters then voted left to block the RN...

We've talked a lot about strategic 'voting' around here in the past and whether or not it is effective.

But the apparently stunning effectiveness of strategic 'candidating'?

That's a new one!


Thursday, July 04, 2024

Daily Multivitamin Use....What Is It Good For?


What good is taking a multivitamin every day if you are over fifty and you aren't suffering from a chronic disease?


According to a new longterm study of 390,000 US'ians that started back in 1993, it would appear that it is good for absolutely nothing:

...Daily multivitamin use was associated with a higher mortality risk compared to non-users (Hazard ratio 1.04, 95% confidence interval 1.02-1.07). That is, mortality was 4% higher among multivitamin users. There were no differences in mortality when looking at heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular mortality...

The paper, from a group at the US National Institutes of Health published in JAMA Open Network, is here.

Commentary, quoted from above, is by pharmacist Scott Gavura at Science-Based Medicine.

Earworm in the header is even more Ron Obvious than usual...
Ron Obvious, the original version?...This!
Ron Obvious, revisited (but not so often recently)?...This!
Of course, it is very likely that we will be quoting RO No2 much more often as the provincial election approaches later in the summer into the fall.


Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Progress? We Don't Need No Stinking Progress!


As per that year 2025 project thingy that may very well soon be fully backed by the six of the finest US'ian Supremes that big money and/or the Federalist Society can buy:


Before we here in Central Lotusland and the surrounding environs get all smug about a certain coming fall election, the following is taken straight from our very own BC Conservative Party's kinda/sorta platform called 'A Common Sense Plan For All British Columbians' under the sub-heading of 'Culture and Freedom':


Leaving aside the 'I'm not prejudiced, you're prejudiced!' projection behind Door Number 3 for the moment...

Do you hear what I hear?


Sunday, June 30, 2024

New On The Crawl.


New on the 'BlogCrawl' that is...

It's creaky, especially given that you now have to delve into the guts of the old blogspot code to add new stuff, but readers often mention that the BlogCrawl over there on the left side bar is one of the main reasons they stop by here regularly (if you're on your phone, scroll down to the bottom and hit 'View Web Version' to see it).

Anyway, here are three new additions:

Tim Bray, software guy, who now lives in Lotusland. I've added his blog for no particular reason other than he has lots of interesting things to say about all kinds of, well, things, including a recent trip to Seattle so that he could take his teenage daughter and a friend to a rock show at the Woodland Zoo that led to his visiting a Jazz Club to see a group called GoGo Penguin in the interim. Go figure.

A tour diary by Ben Sinclair of 'The Beths', my current favourite band from New Zealand. And here I thought Mike Watt was the most obsessive, ever, with this kind of stuff. The thing about Ben's diary that is so fun is that it is both comprehensive and good, with great little embedded movies together with some really insightful stuff about what it's like to be an indie band kinda/sorta making it on the road. The most recent post is about a trip from Palm Springs to Las Vegas at the end of their most recent tour a couple of months ago (they'll be back out on the road again soon, starting in mid-August). 

Katelyn Jetelina's Epidemiology blog is a good one. I've been following her stuff for awhile now for reasons that are pretty obvious. Her most recent post nails down why gun violence really and truly is a public health issue in the U.S. This includes the almost impossible to fathom fact that firearms-related injury is now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in that fine country.

Like Mr. Bray, I recently took a trip with one of my daughters, in this case littler e., to see a show in Seattle. Only in our case we went to the same event, together, to see the fantastic Adrianne Lenker at the Paramount theatre downtown...e. bought the tickets because it was my Father's Day present...Imagine that!...That's us at the top of the post.
And, for Bigger E....I've dug out the story of a long ago road trip to Las Vegas with, not a band, but instead my former editor...More to come on that one sometime soon, I hope, once this latest round of damnable grants is done....
Earworm in the header for this fine Canada Day weekend?...Of course...This!


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Next Carol Merrill.


There's a new model in the 'Let's Make A (Climate Change) Deal!' game.

And this one does not answer to either Monty Hall or Stefan Hatos.

Instead, it is a model developed by two geoscientists, one from Oxford and one from Cambridge, that they think helps to explain why marine ice sheets are highly sensitive to something called 'submarine melting' as the ocean warms.

Why does this matter for what is behind Doors Number 1 and 2 AND Door Number 3 as temperatures continue to increase?

Well, here's the kicker from geo-geeks' abstract published by Nature a few weeks ago:

"Our results point towards a stronger sensitivity of ice-sheet melting, and thus higher sea-level-rise contribution in a warming climate, than has been previously understood."


Given that we of the fossil fuel burning epoch broke more than 1,400 high temperature records in the last week, I'm not so sure that the effects of climate change are going to affect us quite so incrementally as is so often assumed by those who promulgate the advantages of a slow, sparkle pony-assisted decades long transition to carbon neutrality.

If you get my drift.

And who knew that 'Let's Make a Deal' spent a disastrous two year stint in Vancouver at the end of its first run in 1980/81 that was plagued by a goofy set with disco doors, cheap prizes and, ultimately, bounced cheques?...And imagine it being memorialized on a pre-historic 'Angelfire' webpage that has not yet succumbed to link rot!
Earworm in the subheader?...What else but...This!


Saturday, June 22, 2024

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...



Update at the Bottom of the Post - Upshot? Always put more trust in your kids' power of recollection, and the Archives, than in your own rickety memory.

It was twenty years ago today that I ambled down the rickety stairs to the unfinished basement with the converted octopus furnace and headed over to the little nook in the corner surrounded by bookshelves I still have now and fired up the modem.

And then I wrote one my first blog posts.

Surprisingly, like all the rest of the early posts, it wasn't about BC Rail.

Instead, it was about how the Campbell government's assembled propaganda team was attempting to move public opinion just enough to force the feds to drop the offshore oil drilling moratorium.

Ultimately, that scheme was a sparkle pony that just wouldn't fly.

But many more such schemes and ponies would follow.


Why did I do it?

The posting, I mean.

And why do I keep doing it?


The only thing I know for sure is that it's better than just yelling at the TeeVee.

Plus, I guess, it forces you to learn stuff about stuff.

Or some such thing.

The early post in question
was based on the reporting of Sean Holman's long gone, and much missed, Public Eye Online.
Message in the subheader?....This!
Update: Bigger E. sent pixel patterns via the fancy palm pilot thingy in which she noted that, in days of yore at least, I was much more likely to yell at the Cluffmaster Flash playing on the VW (not-so)Microbus sound system than at the television...And you know what?...The Archives, circa 2012, confirm her side of the story...Imagine that!


Sunday, June 16, 2024

For My Dad.


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

Why this post again? 

Because... It's a tradition - that's why!

As for the photo at the top of the post...Our Dad, with one of his favourite dogs at, possibly his favourite campsite in his favourite public campground, ever...Just one downhill jog and a quick snorkel to....Moon Snails!

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.


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

We're A Garage Band.


When I was in my last year of high school, which was the year that punk broke, my friends and I formed a garage band that actually played in a real garage, with cardboard egg cartons stuck to the walls and everything...I remember some of what happened...The rest I figure I can just make up...

Part I - Do You Feel Like We Do?

The 97 straight weeks that 'Frampton Comes Alive' charted pretty much traced the entire evolution of the thing.

We were playing flip disk down in the basement at the home of the Big W when that damnable double album first arrived in our midst in the spring of 1976.

S. brought it.

The rest of us figured he found about it from Miles, the guy who ran the sound down at the Rec Center. If we had known that it actually came S's girlfriend it probably never would have made it to the turntable.

But, as the rampant '70's musical chauvanism that steered us clear of acts like KC and the Sunshine Band had been momentarily locked up thanks to our teenage-headed ignorance of what was really going on, the talk box started squawking and the game resumed.


Flip disk was essentially carpet hockey without sticks. We'd been playing it since junior highschool and in the beginning it had all been finesse, fun, and sweeping arms sending the little plastic disk/puck over the baseball glove covered hand of the outstretched goalie.

The thing is, more often than not that spring, the game had turned Broad Street Bully tough. As a result, it was not uncommon for the games to end with a hyperextended finger and/or a bashed head.

On the day of the Framptoning, however, it was a wild swipe of mine that sent the disk crashing through the basement window which brought things to an abrupt halt just as the former Humble Pie (almost) frontman started shouting out to some guy named 'Pumpman' on the keyboards.

Of course, given my penchant for mondegreen moments, even way back then, I had no idea that this particular fine fellow was actually a fantastic musician named Bob Mayo.

The image at the top of the post is from a post-album release concert in Oakland's then (truly) dual purpose football/baseball stadium that was put together by Bill Graham - it's quite a story for the time....It looks to me like the stage is jutting out in front of the center field bleachers which means that the crowd, when it looked over the castle-themed stage, would have had a glorious view of the East Bay Hills that is now obliterated by that goldarned 'Mount Davis'.


Friday, June 07, 2024

The 'Common Sense' Vaccine Nihilism Of The British Columbia Conservative Party


Last week we noted the following post-millennial quote from Paul Parkman, co-inventor of the Rubella vaccine way back in the ancient times (i.e. the late 1960's):

...“As I look back on my career, I have come to think that perhaps I was involved in the easy part (i.e. developing a safe, effective vaccine)"...


...“It will be for others to take on the difficult task of maintaining the protections that we struggled to achieve. We must prevent the spread of this vaccine nihilism, for if it were to prevail, our successes could be lost.”...


One of the keys to the modern medical miracles of debilitating disease and death prevention is population-wide childhood vaccination.

To wit, the population-wide uptake of the rubella vaccines that wiped out the birth defects that are caused by the virus and its by-products:

...Maternal rubella during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, fetal death or congenital rubella syndrome...


...Before the rubella vaccine was licensed in the United States in 1969, rubella was a common disease that occurred primarily among young children. However, rubella was eliminated from the United States in 2004. Since elimination, fewer than 10 cases have been reported annually in the United States, and most cases were imported from outside the country...


What are the population-based (measles, mumps and) rubella early childhood vaccination rates in the U.S. that have achieved this medical miracle?

Percent of children vaccinated by age 24 months against measles, mumps, rubella (1 dose or more): 90.8% (birth year 2016)

And in Canada it was 91.5% in 2021.

However, there are now concerns about falling rates for childhood vaccination, post-pandemic.

Of course, a considerable portion of that drop was caused by the interruption of normal vaccination schedules that occurred because of the pandemic itself. However, there is some evidence that COVID-19 vaccine nihilists are also drivers of long lasting parental increases in jab hesitancy against childhood diseases.

Personally, here in Lotusland, I am of the opinion that a sub-group of these drivers of long-tailed jab hesitancy against childhood diseases is made up of those who continue to rail against the provincial supreme court-approved COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers. And that includes the braintrust behind the (close-to) front-running Conservative Party of British Columbia.

The following is from said party's 'Common Sense Plan' that is available for voter scrutiny on its website under the sub-heading of 'Culture and Freedom':

...While medically-approved inoculation should be encouraged, and vaccines offered to all British Columbians, individuals should not be mandated or coerced into receiving any medical treatment against their will, and fired government employees (including nurses) should be hired back immediately...

Note the 'any medical treatment' widener in the railing and the bleating, above.

And, further note that the leader of the political party concerned went even farther and wider afield in an interview with the Globe and Mail recently:

...(Conservative Party of BC leader) Mr. (John) Rustad said a group of medical professionals recently told him the closest analogue to B.C.’s healthcare system is that of a totalitarian dictatorship across the Pacific.

“I’m told that there’s only one jurisdiction that even comes close to following what we do and that’s North Korea – and it’s not exactly a stellar model, from my perspective, of success in health care,” said Mr. Rustad, who added that his government would immediately fire Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry over her support for COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Mr. Rustad refused to identify the group of medical professionals that provided this analysis...

Say, what?

The good Mr. Rustad is refusing to show his work, and/or identify those who did the work for him?

Imagine that!

Image at the top of the post
is from a paper by Macey et al., published  in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2011.
Tip O' The Toque to reader GarFish for the heads-up re: the BC Con Party platform nihilism...
Regarding that group of 'medical professionals' that is 'telling' the good Mr. Rustad that our provincial healthcare system is closest to that of North Korea?...We've got a line on that thanks to a tip from another reader...Stay tuned.
And while we don't have mandates for childhood vaccinations in British Columbia, they are in place in Ontario which means, I guess, that, according to Mr. Rustad, Parry Sound is the new Pyongyang.


Saturday, June 01, 2024

Interstellar Resurrection Shuffle.


Voyager I, which was launched the year punk broke, passed by Neptune on its way out to deep space in 1989 (see above). 

It is now 15 billion years from home.

And last fall it was, essentially, dead.

But now it's back...

...Voyager 1’s plasma wave subsystem and magnetometer instrument are sending usable data. The team is still working on fixing the cosmic ray subsystem and low-energy charged particle instrument. This process could take weeks. “Kinda like when your power goes out and you have to go around your whole house resetting all your electronics,” the Voyager 1 team tweeted on X. “That's basically what my team and I are doing now.”...

If there's one thing that an interstellar spacecraft needs to get working it's its 'cosmic ray subsystem' mojo.


And we're talking
about the first time punk broke here, 1977...It was also the year of the Woz' non-HAL9000 Apple II release and the year that your humble blogger graduated from high school.
Earworm in the header?....This!
And, just to be clear,  from a two-bit, tin-plated wordsmith POV, I will always jump at the chance to use the alliterative headscratcher "it's its" in a grammatically correct(ish) way that Mrs. Griffiths would be proud of...


Friday, May 31, 2024

The Future Of Journalism (That Matters)


From Amaris Castillo writing at the Poynter Institute:

Several small newsrooms on Monday took home a Pulitzer Prize — the country’s highest honor in journalism.

Though familiar names among Pulitzer winners — The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Associated Press — again earned awards this year, smaller and more modestly resourced outlets like Lookout Santa Cruz, the Invisible Institute and City Bureau joined them...


...The Invisible Institute also won the 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting for “a powerful series that revisits a Chicago hate crime from the 1990s, a fluid amalgam of memoir, community history and journalism.” The podcast, “You Didn’t See Nothin,” is from the Invisible Institute and USG Audio, a division of Universal Studio Group that creates fiction and nonfiction podcasts...

'You Didn't See Nothin' has everything that you could possibly want in a limited run podcast series - something new, dug into in detail, and told well in a way that is neither sensationalist nor exploitive.

It also gives people like me (and likely most of you, too) a realistic, unvarnished and unflinching look at what it is like to be black in America without institutional power.

Go have a listen because it's so good it's like Ear Hustle times ten.

You won't be sorry.


The Herscheling.


An accounting of the accountability, so far, from the inimitable Digby:

...The Trump Organization was found guilty of 17 felonies, landing his CFO in jail. He lost two defamation cases brought by E. Jean Carroll. He lost the mammoth New York civil fraud case. And now he’s lost his first criminal trial with a sweeping guilty verdict on all 34 felony counts...

As for the good Mr. Herschel Walker who once played football while wearing the number '34' for Mr. Trump when he owned the ill-fated 'New Jersey Generals' of the USFL...

It turns out that, even there, the story has been warped by all the bulls*t flooding every zone according to US'ian pro football historian Jeff Pearlman:

...People always say that Trump signed Herschel Walker. Donald Trump did not sign Herschel Walker. Herschel Walker was in the USFL about a year before Donald Trump bought a USFL team. J. Walter Duncan was the owner of the New Jersey Generals when Walker signed. Donald Trump inherited Herschel Walker. That’s it.

You hear all this stuff, like how close they were, but it’s kind of bullshit. Donald Trump didn’t know anything about football. He was a good owner for the team because he paid money. But he was only paying money to make this team successful because he anticipated a merger with the NFL and he wanted to carry this team over to the NFL. So it wasn’t about love of this team or even love of Herschel Walker. Herschel Walker was his meal ticket...

Imagine that!

Tip O' The Toque to that Olberman guy for the idea of the Herschel jersey number link to the felony count number.


Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Hardest Part.


“With the exception of safe drinking water, vaccines have been the most successful medical interventions of the 20th century,” he (Paul Parkman) wrote in Food and Drug Administration Consumer, an agency journal, in 2002.

“As I look back on my career, I have come to think that perhaps I was involved in the easy part,” he added. “It will be for others to take on the difficult task of maintaining the protections that we struggled to achieve. We must prevent the spread of this vaccine nihilism, for if it were to prevail, our successes could be lost.”

In the late 1960's he, Harry Myers, Hope Hopps and Ruth Kirschstein developed the first vaccine against rubella which soon helped eradicate the virus, which causes miscarriages, still births and birth defects, from 81 countries, including all of North America.

And, even way back in 2002, Dr. Parkman thought that developing, testing and demonstrating the population-based efficacy of the vaccine was the easy part.

As for the hard part - stopping the spread of vaccine nihilism - it seems to have gotten even harder, if not hardest, during the ensuing two decades.

Especially given that such nihilism is now being spread in the name of political expediency.

To wit, the following, from last fall:

...Vaccine mandates became a key wedge issue in the 2021 federal election, seeing the Liberals contrast their plan to impose federal inoculation rules against (Pierre) Poilievre's predecessor Erin O'Toole's opposition to them. The policy was rolled out in October 2021 and then rolled back in June 2022, seeing unvaccinated workers who were put on leave able to resume their duties.

"The (current) Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) has withdrawn and apologized for some of the extremely incendiary and divisive comments(opens in a new tab) he made about Canadians who made different medical decisions than he would have made," (Opposition Leader and current polling-based PM in waiting Pierre) Poilievre said.

"Adopting this bill (against vaccine mandates) would be a recognition that this ugly chapter in our history of turning Canadian against Canadian and using a public health matter to pull apart our country and grab more power is permanently behind us."..

Enough said?

Earworm in the header?...Cue Mr. Petty and Company!


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A Spaced Out Odyssey.


I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon with the two Wally's, Schirra and Cronkite, on the TV at my Grandmother's house in the summer of 1969.

At the time, I was nine years old.

And, besides being awestruck, I distinctly remember being struck dumb by the realization that I would get to live until the year 2001 when all of that space-aged future that Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick had imagined would arrive on the scene.

And then I realized that, when the century changed, I would be ridiculously old at the age of 40.

I went to spring convocation this morning.

When the graduate who spent the past few years toiling away in my lab walked across the stage I broke protocol and ducked in behind the dignitaries so that I could shake her hand immediately after the president was done congratulating her.

I must confess that I was a little verklempt for her and all that her future holds.

But I was also struck dumb by two new realizations...

First, it finally really and truly hit me that, while I will get to work with students, on and off, for a little while longer, today's newly minted graduate is the last PhD student that I will fully train and send out into the wider life science-type world. 

As for that second realization?

It is very clear that 1969's nine year old me couldn't have possibly imagined being as old as I am now.


Sure it's cheese, but today's first sentence-of-the-post ear worm was once local Vallance-churned cheese.


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This Is...A Public Service Announcement.


Forum – Should we keep the Vancouver Park Board?
Sunday June 2, 2024
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Hybrid Event – in person and online (see link for online)
Location: Vancouver Unitarians. 949 West 49th Avenue (at Oak Street)

The Vancouver Unitarians will host a one hour forum, with questions welcomed, on the future of the Vancouver Park Board with Parks chair Brennan Bastyovanszky, at the Vancouver Unitarians Sanctuary. The event will be also be live-streamed on YouTube.

Last December, Mayor Sim announced his plan to dissolve the elected Vancouver Parks Board, and a council majority endorsed it – with no public vote on the issue. Premier David Eby (whose B.C. government must approve the change) said he agreed in principle, but would wait for the results of the Oct. 19 provincial election before deciding.

The forum will discuss if we need the elected Park Board. What are the pros and cons of this move? Should it go to a public vote first? You can send your questions for Brennan to forum organizer Stanley Tromp at stromp[at]telus[dot]net.

You can attend in person, or online at

Please return to that page on June 2 at 12:30 to watch the live stream by clicking on the blue button that will appear.

Around here
, we have a lot of time for the work of Stanley Tromp because of stuff like...This.
Tip O' The Toque to CityHallWatch for the heads up.
Earworm in the header?...This!
DoubleDownWorm in the subheader...This!


Monday, May 20, 2024

Access Uber Alles


Maggie Haberman, the Whitehouse correspondent for the New York Times published a story, more than six years ago, on February 13, 2018 under the headline 'Trump's Longtime Lawyer Says He Paid Stormy Daniels Out of His Own Pocket'. Here is the lede of that piece:

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said on Tuesday that he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to a pornographic-film actress who had once claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

In the most detailed explanation of the 2016 payment made to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, Mr. Cohen, who worked as a counsel to the Trump Organization for more than a decade, said he was not reimbursed for the payment.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”...

Now, that was pretty much straight up stenography that pushed a patently false narrative, unchallenged, that could, I suppose, have been justified by Ms. Haberman and her editors by the need to 'get things on the record'.


More than six years later, we now know that Ms. Haberman of the Times had been under Mr. Cohen's thumb for almost a week before the story was published.

How do we know this?

Because it came up during the criminal trial of Donald Trump in a New York courtroom last week:

Texts from Michael Cohen to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman show how former President Trump’s ex-fixer worked to protect Trump from scrutiny over the hush money payment central to his ongoing criminal trial.

“Please start writing and I will call you soon,” Cohen wrote Haberman on Feb. 6, 2018, texts entered as evidence in Trump’s criminal case show.

Cohen subsequently texted Haberman a statement claiming he had used his own personal funds to make the hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who planned to come forward with allegations of a past affair with Trump just weeks before the 2016 presidential election...


Why make a fuss about this now?

Because nothing about this was ever straight-up. Clearly, Ms. Haberman was doing Mr. Cohen's accessional bidding and gave him the story that he and, presumably, his boss and her bosses wanted in 2018. And that is a story, like so many others with no basis in fact, that has survived in the brains of many since then.

Which begs the question...

Which kind of journalism is more corrosive to the collective body politic - the 'catch-and-kill' kind practiced by the likes of American Media Inc (now A360media) or the 'accept-any-and-all-evils-for-access' kind practiced by the likes of Ms. Haberman of the New York Times?

Personally, I think the answer is obvious.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Anti-Climate Change Government Uses Climate Change-Driven Events To Justify Term Extension.


You think I'm joking?

From the invaluable blogging/reporting man on the other side of the Rockies, David Climenhaga:

The United Conservative Party announced yesterday it would use the potential for spring forest fires three years from now as an excuse to extend its term in office by four and a half months...


“With natural disasters like wildfires, drought, and floods more likely to occur in the spring and summer months, moving Alberta’s election date from May to October just makes sense,” said Justice Minister Mickey Amery, who was also trotted out at the news conference along with the Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz, Forestry Minister Todd Loewen, and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis...

Imagine that!

Earworm in the sub-header?...Of course....This!