Friday, January 26, 2024

Vancouver's 'Temporary' Parks In Potential Privatization Peril...The City Manager Weighs In.


In recent posts, we discussed how the  recommendations from the mayor's budgetary task force potentially puts 100 'temporary' parks in privatization peril, particularly if the parks board is abolished.


Does the City of Vancouver itself also recognize that there might be a problem here?

Well, according to Francis Bula's tweet storm coverage of a press conference held yesterday to calm the waters given the massive wake caused by the Mayor's  drive to abolish the parks board, the city manager, Paul Mochrie, apparently does:

So there you have it.

The city is 'looking at opportunities' to protect public lands (i.e. all those temporary 'park spaces') that are being put in potential peril of privatization due to the concerted actions of the very same city's mayor.

Don't know about you, but I'm not sure that allays any of my fears.



Thursday, January 25, 2024

Sometimes Zero Is A Very Good Number, Indeed.


I've written about this before, but as a tail end boomer I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones.

And I'm not just talking about all of the socioeconomic benefits bestowed upon me just because I was born at the tail end of the 1950's.

Instead, I'm talking about polio.

Because, unlike a good friend of mine who was born just a few years earlier, it is not something I ever had to worry about.

Or live with.

Fast forward to the 2000's when our two girls were coming of age and a different vaccine was being rolled out in public schools all over the world.

This one against human papilloma virus.

At the time, Bigger E. asked me if I thought this was a good idea.

I told her that it was clear that a couple of the virus strains were a major contributing cause of cervical cancer so preventing HPV infection was definitely a good idea. However, being the science geek that I am I couldn't stop there. So I also told her that the development of the disease itself takes a long time which, at the time that she was going to get her jabs, the actual effect on cervical cancer rates wasn't yet known with certainty. Probably broke a number of Dad codes with that last bit - Sorry E.


The cervical cancer rate reduction data are now rolling in.

And the upshot is very good, indeed.

From Scottish Public Health:

An exciting new study from Public Health Scotland (PHS), in collaboration with the Universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh, shows that no cervical cancer cases have been detected in fully vaccinated women following the human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation at age 12-13 since the programme started in Scotland in 2008.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute today, concludes that the HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing the development of cervical cancer...

The actual paper is here (see Abstract at bottom of post).


This is the way things are supposed to work.

Initial fundamental/basic research, followed by clinical validation and pharma doing things right, from drug development through trials, all ending in a sweeping public health measure that improves everyone's lives (the vaccine is not just for young women and cervical cancer prevention anymore - it is efficacious against multiple types of HPV- driven cancers).




High-risk human papillomavirus causes cervical cancer. Vaccines have been developed that significantly reduce the incidence of preinvasive and invasive disease. This population-based observational study used linked screening, immunization, and cancer registry data from Scotland to assess the influence of age, number of doses, and deprivation on the incidence of invasive disease following administration of the bivalent vaccine.

Data for women born between January 1, 1988, and June 5, 1996, were extracted from the Scottish cervical cancer screening system in July 2020 and linked to cancer registry, immunization, and deprivation data. Incidence of invasive cervical cancer per 100 000 person-years and vaccine effectiveness were correlated with vaccination status, age at vaccination, and deprivation; Kaplan Meier curves were calculated.

No cases of invasive cancer were recorded in women immunized at 12 or 13 years of age irrespective of the number of doses. Women vaccinated at 14 to 22 years of age and given 3 doses of the bivalent vaccine showed a significant reduction in incidence compared with all unvaccinated women (3.2/100 000 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.1 to 4.6] vs 8.4 [95% CI = 7.2 to 9.6]). Unadjusted incidence was significantly higher in women from most deprived (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 1) than least deprived (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 5) areas (10.1/100 000 [95% CI = 7.8 to 12.8] vs 3.9 [95% CI = 2.6 to 5.7]). Women from the most deprived areas showed a significant reduction in incidence following 3 doses of vaccine (13.1/100 000 [95% CI = 9.95 to 16.9] vs 2.29 [95% CI = 0.62 to 5.86]).

Our findings confirm that the bivalent vaccine prevents the development of invasive cervical cancer and that even 1 or 2 doses 1 month apart confer benefit if given at 12-13 years of age. At older ages, 3 doses are required for statistically significant vaccine effectiveness. Women from more deprived areas benefit more from vaccination than those from less deprived areas.

Another time I broke the Dad codes with E?...It was when I let my science geek tendencies run amok while helping her with her Grade 7 science project...Long story short - her teacher rightly informed me that rigorous statistical significance analyses of the data generated were a pretty good indication that the project just may have become as much mine as E's...Apologies for that one also kid.


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Developers? In Lotusland?


Raymond Tomlin, who is really on top of this parks board on the killing floor thing, explains why the City of Vancouver has been so developer friendly for the last fifty plus years:

...Whether it’s developer Mayor Tom Campbell in the late 60s, or Joel Solomon and Gregor Robertson for a 10-year period when Vision Vancouver was at the seat of power at Vancouver City Hall, or in these latter days, with an avuncular — but dare we say, avaricious — Peter Armstrong and Chip Wilson (backing ABC Vancouver), we who call Vancouver home are reminded yet again, and much to our consternation, this is not our city, for Vancouver is owned lock, stock and barrel by the developer class...

Go and read Mr. Tomlin's entire post - it's good.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Unprotected One Hundred.

Laura Christensen was elected to the Vancouver Parks Board on Mr. Sim's ABC ticket in November of 2022.

Ms. Christensen is no longer an ABC Parks Board Commissioner, and is instead now sitting as an independent.

When the good Mr. Sim, the ABC leader and current Mayor, announced his intention to abolish the Parks Board late last year, Ms. Christensen was passionate in her defense of the elected Board, making it clear that when he she first agreed to run, Mr. Sim assured her that the Board would be reformed but would remain if his party won the election.


Is there something untoward going on here?

For example, will the abolishment of the Parks Board clear the way for the selling off of park land under the now public, and some might say infamous, Recommendation #14 from the Mayor's Budgetary Task Force that we discussed yesterday?

Well, according to the actual wording of the said Recommendation #14, you could assume that all parks are safe given that they have been assigned to the 'critical asset' category.

Additionally, as Raymond Tomlin noted earlier today, Mr. Sim had the following to say on December 15th of 2023:

“I want to be very clear: as long as I’m mayor, parks will always be parks in the City of Vancouver,” Mayor Sim told CityNews in an interview on Friday, December 15, 2023.

But here's the thing...

As Ms. Christensen pointed out in her passionate petition to City Council (which you can watch here - it only takes three minutes and it will do your heart good when it comes to restoring your faith in what a true public servant can and should do), one hundred of the City of Vancouver's parks are not designated as 'permanent'. One of those not 'permanent' parks is Spanish Banks, pictured above.

Why does this matter?

Because, according to independent, and straight speaking, Parks Board Commissioner Christensen this means that the not 'permanent' parks are not protected by the need for a public referendum and a unanimous vote from City Council to 'de-parkify' them.

This conclusion of Ms. Christensen is actually supported by the wording in Mr. Sim's December 6, 2023 resolution to remove the Parks Board:

...FURTHER THAT, in accordance with the above (resolution to remove the Parks Board), (Vancouver City) Council formally request that the Province of British Columbia amend the process for revoking and/or cancelling the designation of areas designated as permanent public parks of the City under the VC, notably under section 488 of the VC (“Parks in care of Board”), to a unanimous vote of all Council members, along with provisions for a public referendum... (material in brackets and bolding mine)

And if a big chunk of developer desirable not permanent parkland were to be de-parkified with no elected Parks Board to protect it?


Perhaps we should ask ourselves what might happen to said de-parkified public land under the good Mayor's Task Force 'Recommendation #14 for asset privatization?

Now, does an entire park have be swallowed, whole, by a developer to make a few of the chosen ones a whole lotta money?....Of course not?...How do I know this?...Because I saw the entire deal go down, up-close-and-personal, when another bait-and-switch happy politician cut the heart out of Pacific Spirit Park under the guise (i.e. initial bogus bait) of protecting the edges of a golf course...Seriously.


Monday, January 22, 2024

That's Some Recommendation, That Recommendation 14.


From that City of Vancouver 'Mayor's Budget Task Force Report' that I've been blathering on about recently:


I see that 'parks' are on the no-go/do-not sell 'Core Assets' list.

But what if a park like, say, Spanish Banks, is not actually a park?

At least not a 'permanent' one.

More on that in the next post...

Raymond Tomlin is a little ahead of me on this one if you want to head over to his place and cut pretty much directly to the chase...


Saturday, January 20, 2024

Drop Turd, The Herd Will Follow.


The media herd that is.


Yesterday, Norm Farrell wrote about the many municipalities in British Columbia, including the City of Vancouver, that are sitting on mountains of 'surplus' cash:

At the time, I couldn't help but note that despite this, based on a pretty much data-free report from the Mayor's budgetary task force, we would soon be hearing about how we could get out of the phantom fiscal woods by selling off public assets.

And today, whadd'ya know...

Digital front page.

Vancouver Sun.

Can the thundering hooves of the Keef be far behind?


Friday, January 19, 2024

First They Came For The Sociologists...


Post-secondary rank-and-file academics like myself live a very good life.

Oh, sure, there's lots of complaining and moaning about all manner of petty things, including some of the stuff that I was kinda/sorta jokingly moaning about last fall.

But here's the thing - regardless the teaching load and/or administrative duties, in a job like this you still have a good chunk of time to do what you want when it comes to your  'scholarly' activity. Personally, I'm lucky enough that I get to spend most of that time working with a fantastic group of people, many of them young and energized, trying to make a small dent in the universe.

There is an off-shoot to this scholarly stuff that boomerangs back into the administrative realm, however. This is acting as an independent/outside 'referee' for folks going forward for such things as tenure and promotion. Given that I have been around for a long time and have a pretty good handle on what's significant (and what is not) in my field, I get a reasonable number of requests to be such a referee.

Essentially, the requests come from the institution involved. Normally, if I deem myself appropriate to give an informed review, I'm happy to oblige because that's the way our world works, no questions asked.

The exception to this rule of thumb occurred last fall when I declined such a request on principle because of concerns that had been raised on a number of front's about a certain US'ian state government's highjacking of their public post-secondary system, this being just one particularly egregious example.


It turns out that things keep getting worse for post-secondary education in the Sunshine State:

Last fall, with little explanation, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. proposed removing sociology from the menu of courses university students can take to meet graduation requirements. On Wednesday, he spoke more clearly, suggesting that sociology studies could veer into “identity politics or theories,” in violation of a new state law.

“Students should be focused on learning the truth about our country instead of being radicalized by woke ideology in our college classrooms,” Diaz said in comments to the State Board of Education.

A short time later, the board unanimously approved two rules that will apply to Florida’s 28 state colleges. One prohibits spending on diversity efforts. The other removes sociology as an option to fulfill state requirements for what are known as the “general education” or “core” courses that all students must take...


...“I think the statute is clear that, within the general education core code, courses may not distort significant historical events or include curriculum that teaches identity politics or theories,” Diaz said. “And I think when you go into the sociology course, you’re talking about theories, and that’s an option that students have to explore those theories in a nongeneral education course.”...

Now, if you've been stopping by here occasionally for awhile (and/or have clicked through on the first link, above) you will know that I do not ply my scholarly trade in the humanities.


Leaving aside all those 'theories' that are taught all over the place for the moment, including in biology courses where evolution often comes up,  there is the following to consider, as noted by fellow academic PZ Myers:

'...First they came for the sociology departments, but I was not a sociologist...'

Enough said?



Thursday, January 18, 2024

A True (But Definitely Not Blue) Super Spreader.

A super spreader of disinformation that is...


Meanwhile, in old Blighty, a country that is still being ruled by the party of the whackaloons:

In England, the Birmingham Children’s Hospital is currently grappling with a major outbreak of measles. More than 50 children have been hospitalized in the past month. Vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio remain a public health threat. And with childhood vaccine hesitancy—or simply outright refusal—on the rise in the U.K., U.S. and Europe, the problem is likely to worsen...


 ...The spike in cases is fueled by vaccine hesitancy towards the measles, mumps and rubella shot. According to National Health Service England, in December 2022 the MMR vaccination rate in the Birmingham region was around 83%. To optimally protect the population, a rate of at least 95% is critical...

Enough said?


Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Fifty-One Percent Incumbent.


From the inimitable Digby:

"If there’s one state in the nation you can call MAGA country, it’s Iowa. It’s something like 95% white, older than most states, extremely rural and the Republican Party there is as conservative as it gets."

Which is interesting because 49% of Republicans voted AGAINST Donald Trump (i.e. the man that the overwhelming majority of the fine folks of MAGA country believe won the las US'ian presidential election) in the Iowa caucuses on Monday.

Meanwhile, in New Hampshire:


Monday, January 15, 2024



Once again, I got catnipped into clicking through on a link to a Politico story...

This time, it was while searching for a little extra biographical nitty-gritty on the late, great Ed Broadbent.


As I slid down the page looking for something, ummm, original, I suddenly came upon the following:


I realize the polls are awful for the Liberals. However, what the blurb above compares is the useless comings and goings of a faux happy-faced political stalking horse who doesn't have to do anything of use and/or substance to do and a guy who is actually, you know, governing.

And the former is 'up' while the latter is 'down'?



Meanwhile, down in the deepest bowels of the Tubes...

And speaking of actual Pols
doing stuff that actually matters...Why aren't Mr. Singh and Mr. Davies getting more kudos for...This!


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Gabriola On My Mind.


As promised in the last post, we now return you to our regular programming.

Which is...

Old guys talking about the weather.

Sort of.


A couple of days ago, 'atoma4u', a reader over at Norm Farrell's place, mentioned that the original route for the Fast Cat ferries was a straight shot across the Salish Sea from Iona Island to Gabriola.

The entire trip would be 40 min followed by a pleasant drive to VanIsle over the connecting mudflats by bridge.

Somewhat bizarrely, from a political irony POV at least, this route, which removes the need to travel through the tunnel or over Burrard Inlet on the Lotuslandian side, was resurrected by a then headless and rust(ad)-free BC Conservative party in 2017.

Go figure!


Anyway, getting back to the matter at hand.

As is our want, the Wackadoodle II and I were wandering the beach at Iona yesterday.

Given the temperature, we had the entire thing pretty much to ourselves.

And as I gazed across the water and tried to imagine how far out a ferry terminal would have to go to clear  the shallows it was impossible ignore (unless you were the Whackadoodle chewing on a stick) the ice in the river-mixed salt chuck.

Winter (outflow) winds, indeed...

Meanwhile, no burst pipes so far for us...Hope you all have weathered the worst of it as well...Looks like rain by Thursday...


Friday, January 12, 2024

But What About A Steak-Based Poultice?


Remember the following, when it came to hydroxychloroquine, from back in the earliest days of the COVID pandemic:

"Trump said at a briefing in March (of 2020), “What do we have to lose? I feel very good about it.”..."

Of course, over the next six months, it was demonstrated over and over again that the compound was neither useful nor efficacious.



Back in the very earliest days (i.e. when treatment options for advanced/serious/life-threatening disease were not good), one could argue that the faith-based use of hydroxychloroquine did not do anyone serious harm.

But here's the thing...

As time passed and legitimate treatments rapidly improved, all the hype-backed, ideologically-driven 'faith' in the miraculous powers of hydroxychloroquine kept on keeping on.

And, as you might expect, what those with advanced/serious/life-threatening disease who kept the 'faith' ultimately 'had to lose' became significant in the extreme.

The following are the 'highlights' of a paper published last week by a French group in Biomedicine and Pharmacology:

  • Hydroxychloroquine was prescribed in hospitalised patients with Covid-19 despite of the low-level evidence.

  • Subsequently, HCQ use was associated with an 11% increase in the mortality rate in a meta-analysis of randomized trials.

  • The number of hydroxychloroquine related deaths in hospitalised patients is estimated at 16,990 in six countries.

  • These findings illustrate the hazard of drug repurposing with low-level evidence for the management of future pandemics.

Meanwhile, in the very fine state of Florida, the Surgeon General is currently telling the citizenry to avoid mRNA vaccines based on, it would appear, debunked claims.

Imagine that!

Once again...Ya, I've got archives and I'm going to use them...
We now return this little F-Troop blog to the matter at hand...Old guys talking about the weather!


Thursday, January 11, 2024

The Bitter Winds Are Coming In...

Between the time I got on and got off the bus this morning an actual winter wind swooped into Lotusland.

As we stepped off the #33 at the end of the line, the person next to me said that it felt like Montreal without the snow.

Given how bright out it was I thought of, maybe, Edmonton - but in early April given that -10°C is pretty much springtime in that town.


How do you keep the pipes going to the outside taps on the side of the house from freezing again?

Earworm in the header?...


Tuesday, January 09, 2024

How Long Until...


Last week it was revealed that a whole lot of foreign governments pumped millions into Donald Trump's businesses while the latter was still the 45th US'ian president.

Included in the list was a very, very super fine bank of a certain country that the good Mr. Trump often derides phonetically. The same bank also, allegedly, likes to make nice with Mr. Trump's favourite funny and very smart dictator:

...China made the largest total payments — $5.5 million — to Trump’s private businesses. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), one of China’s biggest state-owned banks, was among Trump Tower’s largest office tenants during the Trump presidency. The report notes that during Trump’s first year in the White House, several Chinese banks — including ICBC — came under scrutiny for financial ties to North Korea, causing the administration to weigh sanctions against them...

All of which has me wondering...

How long will it be until one of our own homegrown whackaloons running with the rusted-out, but tanned, rested, and re-funded, right-sided provincial political party starts spouting off about all the foreign money that is propping up our puppetized public insurance corporation that they also assert is pumping 5G robot magnet codes into our vaccine-addled brains?

Or some such thing.

On a more serious, snark-free local/provincial political note...Raymond Tomlin and VanRamblings are back!
'Funny' and 'very smart' dictator?...You betcha.


Monday, January 08, 2024

Bus Rider.


Had a fall on my bike on one of those slightly frosty, sneaky black ice mornings a couple of weeks before Christmas and messed up my hip.

It's just about back to normal now and I've started to get back into the saddle again with a few tentative, short rides.


Because of all that, I've been putting my Compass card to good use and have been taking the bus to and from work recently.

And I've got to say that the bus drivers were all aces back when I was really hobbling, lowering that front step and always waiting until I had a seat up front.

And that R4 that booms along 41st, east and west going from one end of Lotusland Central to the other?

It's the fastest thing going - almost like your own private helicopter across town - if you were travelling with 80 of your best friends on a multi-wheeled articulated whirly-gig.

And, apropos of essentially nothing at all, except for the fact the the guy sang it to the girl on the bus in 'Once' (see clip, above), here's a cover of a trifle that has been stuck in my head for more than fifteen years now...

Truth be told,
I love public transit and always try to take it at least once wherever I go...Heckfire, in addition to a Translink Compass card, I've also got an Opus card in my wallet because I actually enjoy taking the 747 bus from Dorval into Montreal - for all kinds of reasons, including the fact that it's just about the only place in that town where people don't immediately switch to English when they hear my crummy French...And it won't be long until I can get such a card with my photo on it...
Tommy Smothers, one of my Dad's favourites,  passed away last week...Here's a great oral(ish) history of his life and times by David Bianculli and Terry Gross on US'ian Public Radio.
And another great, one of the matriarch's of the Salish (and surrounding) Sea's orca community, T46, or 'Wake', has also left us...Here's a great interview about her and hers with Jared Towers of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, also on Public  Radio...And here's something you might not know (I certainly didn't)...Almost fifty years ago, Wake was captured in Budd Inlet in the deepest part of Puget Sound with five other orcas...All six were destined for a long, long stint in an aquarial prison before a massive public outcry led to their release and a permanent (we hope) end to live whale capture...
On a lighter note, regardless how you feel about the sound of his stuff, which likely hinges on whether or not you think that late '80's album of Robbie Robertson's has stood the test of time (or not), anyone who is interested in the process of how the music gets made will dig this three (yes, three!) hour interview of Daniel Lanois by Rick Beato.
Earworm in the sub-header got your presque vu sense tingling?...This!


Friday, January 05, 2024

An Important Reminder...


Late last fall, back when HellTerm 3000 was still in full swing, I posted a short piece about the permanence of self-constructed furniture.

Specifically, I mentioned a little wood cabinet that I put together 50 years ago in grade 9 woodworking class that our youngest now carts around everywhere she goes.


The discussion that ensued was very lively, not to mention enjoyable.

But I missed a late comment from longtime reader 'TB' that also included an important reminder:

We landed penniless in Canada in 1974.

Our first furniture was an 8 ft piece of plywood mounted on birch log cutoffs.

The same piece of plywood still exists as two guest bedroom side tables though the original stain is now painted over with the colour of the day.

In 1978 I purchased a well used Coldspot upright freezer which I replaced last year for a more compact model!

FWIW , I still have the same wife for nearly 50 years but I don't think I will replace her or even give her a fresh coat of paint!

To be honest she does most of the painting..

Life is good.

Especially in Canada.


Hard to argue with that I reckon.

Including the parts about who does the painting and the stolidity of an upright freezer built before the days of the offshoring of any and all manufacturing...


Wednesday, January 03, 2024

But Does It Actually Work?


Taxing the rich, I mean.

Well, in a US'ian state formerly run by a guy named Romney that is not actually dominated by the books of Mormons, it would appear that directly taxing the rich does, indeed, work.

In fact, in the past year it worked even better than expected as noted by Julia Conley writing in Common Dreams:

A new "millionaire's tax" in Massachusetts was expected to generate $1 billion in revenue last year to help pay for public education, infrastructure, and early childcare programs, but projections were a bit off, according to a fresh state analysis.

The state Department of Revenue estimated late last week that the Fair Share Amendment, which requires people with incomes over $1 million, to pay a 4% annual surtax, will add $1.5 billion to state coffers this fiscal year, which ends in June—surpassing expectations.

Universal free school meals, much-needed improvements to an aging public transportation system, and tuition-free education for community college students are just some of the programs Massachusetts' wealthiest residents have helped pay for after voters approved the law in 2022 amid growing calls across the United States to tax the richest households and corporations...

And how did this come to be?

Why, via a state-wide, non-gerrymandered referendum, that's how.

Imagine that!

Tip 'O The Toque to the always fantastic and thoroughly progressively informative links round-up over at Greg Fingas' 'Accidental Deliberations'...