Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Norm Farrell's Modest Proposal To Deal With BC Hydro's Big Troubles.


For tens of billions of easily demonstrated reasons that local proMedia will never tell you about BC Hydro is in big, big trouble.

Norm Farrell, who has done so much to demonstrate said reasons, has come up with a way out of the jam (scroll down to the comments):

"...Sell BC Hydro’s generating and transmission assets at depreciated market value to a new BC Electric Company financed by a reformed bcIMC and owned by the pension fund and current employees with government continuing to hold shares. Public pension funds would be kept at work in BC instead of being invested abroad, funding the tobacco industry, arms dealers, Chinese state-controlled enterprises and other undesirable investments.

BC Hydro is already a financial basket case. Aging plant, worthless assets (about $7 billion of intangibles and deferred costs), unprofitable markets and a changing energy landscape means it cannot survive long term without huge subsidies from the province. Selling generating and distribution assets and paying off the enormous existing secured debt would leave a company with no ability to continue. It would have to declare its insolvency, unable to pay contractors.

IPPs could do contracts with the new company and ones that serve local needs would find success. Those expecting to sell power profitably to a public utility so that agency can sell it into money losing markets might not fair as well..."

Seems to me that the fine folks who currently hold the decision making power when it comes to such matters just might want to unplug their ears and start paying attention to Norm (once again).


Eleven Percent Can Become A Really, Really Big Number.


It wasn't just Cambridge Analytica.

From the Guardian's latest under Paul Lewis' byline:

...Academic research from 2010, based on an analysis of 1,800 Facebooks apps, concluded that around 11% of third-party developers requested data belonging to friends of users.

If those figures were extrapolated, tens of thousands of apps, if not more, were likely to have systematically culled “private and personally identifiable” data belonging to hundreds of millions of users, (former Facebook platform operations manager Sandy) Parakilas said...

And, as Mr. Parakilas notes, Facebook, and its very small boss, turned a blind eye to pretty much all of it until 2014.

Why the change, then?


That is not entirely clear, but there is speculation that some of the data harvests had become so large that the book of faces folks may have come concerned that the biggest harvesters themselves would soon set up their own social networks.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Throw Out All Your Algorithms.


Nevermind the never ending NYT stories from Maggie Haberman et al. about the mangled machinations behind the mad king's Twittmachine feed.

Because this, from the Guardian's Carol Cadwalldr, is the thing we ALL need to be paying attention to:

The first time I met Christopher Wylie, he didn’t yet have pink hair. That comes later. As does his mission to rewind time. To put the genie back in the bottle.

By the time I met him in person, I’d already been talking to him on a daily basis for hours at a time. On the phone, he was clever, funny, bitchy, profound, intellectually ravenous, compelling. A master storyteller. A politicker. A data science nerd...


...Or, as Wylie describes it, he was the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool”...


...Last month, Facebook’s UK director of policy, Simon Milner, told British MPs on a select committee inquiry into fake news, chaired by Conservative MP Damian Collins, that Cambridge Analytica did not have Facebook data. The official Hansard extract reads:

Christian Matheson (MP for Chester): “Have you ever passed any user information over to Cambridge Analytica or any of its associated companies?”

Simon Milner: “No.”

Matheson: “But they do hold a large chunk of Facebook’s user data, don’t they?”

Milner: “No. They may have lots of data, but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.”

Two weeks later, on 27 February, as part of the same parliamentary inquiry, Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, asked Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix: “Does any of the data come from Facebook?” Nix replied: “We do not work with Facebook data and we do not have Facebook data.”

And through it all, Wylie and I, plus a handful of editors and a small, international group of academics and researchers, have known that – at least in 2014 – that certainly wasn’t the case, because Wylie has the paper trail. In our first phone call, he told me he had the receipts, invoices, emails, legal letters – records that showed how, between June and August 2014, the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users had been harvested. Most damning of all, he had a letter from Facebook’s own lawyers admitting that Cambridge Analytica had acquired the data illegitimately...



So, what did they do with the profiles?

The young Mr. Wylie explains...

If you want in-depth  analysis and (mostly, I think) algo-free commentary make sure you read (and bookmark) Marcy Wheeler.
Couldn't happen/hasn't already happened here?....The MoS explains why you might want to think again.
And on that other thing I've been blathering on about recently....If Ontario had prop-rep would the entire country be concerned about the good Mr. Ford's political future at the moment?
Finally, Jody Paterson explains why, for her at least, it is difficult not to wonder about motives and long held beliefs when it comes to the recent change of heart writing of Martyn Brown in the G Straight...It's hard not to conclude that she has a point.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Proportional Representation...The Codswallopian Wave Of Status-Quoism Is Coming!


The following is the lede of Douglas Todd's (most excellent) piece on the forces of 'No' aligned against Prop-Rep in today's VSun:

This year is certain to include more high-profile nay-saying from the well-funded opponents of proportional representation. They seemed omnipresent during B.C. referendums in 2005 and 2009, when the possibility of electoral reform fell less than three percentage points short of the 60 per cent threshold needed then to change the polarized way we do partisan politics in this province...

How will we ever stand our ground against the wave and all the prop-bombs that are sure to be buried within it?


We think that is something that Merv Adey would have wanted to help us deal with in a rational, calm, and fact-based manner.

Stay tuned!


Saturday, March 10, 2018



Thanks to the generosity of many of you, not to mention the hard work Norm Farrell, Merv Adey's fantastic family and some very fine local journalism-type folks, we will soon be unveiling Merv's next project...

Wait for it!

In case you're new around here...Merv Adey, like BC Mary before him, was one of the best BCPoli bloggers ever....For all the right reasons.
Oh, and before I forget.... Norm wants me to remind you all that you can still contribute to the Merv Fund....Here.


Monday, March 05, 2018

The 'Mess At BC Hydro'...That Thing That Mr. Shaw Did Not Tell His Readers.


The following is the 'wave away' from Rob Shaw's bizarre deflector spike spin piece on how Horgan has been acting just like Clark, re: Hydro in yesterday's VSun:

...As veteran energy analyst David Austin noted at a recent B.C. Utilities Commission hearing, you could fire all of Hydro’s staff, cancel all its private power contracts, and the corporation would still have to keep raising rates because its true cost pressures lie in paying for all its deferral accounts, building and upgrade projects...

'Veteran energy analyst'?

Sure thing.

But, then again...

There is also the following from the good Mr. Austin's bio page at Clark Wilson LLP under the heading 'Creation of the Independent Power Industry in BC':

...Was heavily involved in the creation of the independent power industry from the policy, business and legal apects in BC and continues to represent it in regulatory proceedings...


Not to put too fine a point on it, but...

Was not the BCUC hearing that Mr. Shaw refers to some kind of 'regulatory proceeding'?


Meanwhile, from Norm Farrell's latest, another one of those really, really big things that fine local proMedia folks like Mr. Shaw don't bother to tell their readers:

In a follow-up post on his Twittmachine feed Norm further notes that we gave IPP's almost $10 billion between 2005 and 2017 and almost $4 billion in the last three years alone.

Imagine that.

Tip O' The Toque to reader Hugh for the heads-up  in a comment over at Norm's place.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Dissification Of The Dean.


Would'a thunk it.

Turns out that Mr. Michael Smythe of the Province actually does have a memory that he's willing to use when it suits his purposes (and/or his old columns).

He did this with his latest on the mansion tax.

Which is interesting in a kinda/sort way if you want to click through.

But then, in the aftermath an interesting thing happened on the Twittmachine.

Someone who was previously a card carrying member of the Lotuslandian proMedia Club, and who had given Mr. Smythe kudos for the memory work, took the Dean to task for precisely the right reason:


In fairness, Mr. Palmer may have been dredging up his own memories of the original Robin Hood mansion tax from 1993 that led to a meltdown from a Dipper minister who was once the co-MLA for Upper West Cremeville.

Thing is, it would appear that Horgan et al. learned from the mistakes of yore and put in the escape hatch this time around that Mr. Skelton mentions above.

Which, of course, anyone covering the BC legislature for a major local print organ would know forwards and backwards.



Sunday, February 25, 2018

Your Daily Felice Brothers....Fifty-Eight To Nothing.


C. turned 58 this weekend.

Which meant that there was a pretty good multi-generational party at our house on Saturday night.

For all kinds of reasons, including the fact that it was also a bon voyage for (no longer so) littler e. who, now that she is pretty much done with her full time working and slaving for the man during her gap year, is getting ready to head off to tap dance her way across Europe for awhile.

All of which is just another way of saying that a good time was had by all.

Not quite as good a time as the folks below.

But a fun time nonetheless...

Fifty-eight to nothing?....You bet.


Hope Springs Eternal.


Now that Friday's snow has started to melt in earnest we here in Lotusland can start thinking seriously about spring.

Not spring training, mind you.

Because for that you would have to travel to Tuscon Arizona and have breakfast on the Colorado Rockies under the auspices of an anti-driving conspiracy.

Or some such thing.


Of course, spring training is the place where everyone is hopeful.

And that includes rookies looking for their first big shot as well as grizzled veterans looking for one more shot at a big paycheque, especially if they happen to be a rubber-armed reliever who gets by on guile, craft and back door sliders.

But, of course, many of us of a certain stage still hold onto the slimmest of no longer slimfast hopes that we can still make it in some kinda league, big or small, somewhere, some day still to come.

Which is why, at least once a year as the grapefruit and cactus slices are sluiced into umbrella drinks in Florida and Arizona, I like to watch the following and keep on dreamin' on....

Sub-header?....On one trip through the desert on our way to prove that there are no day games in Las Vegas my former editor and I stopped in the desert to hit fungoes into the sky...Or was that a night ride out of Oakland on the way to Stockton?...Either way, I'm almost certain I used the ghost of Alonzo Powell to take my cuts....Mr. Powell was one of my favourite career minor leaguers of all-times who later went on to a decent career in Japan before becoming a wee bit of a decidedly non-Charley Lauistic major league hitting coach who is now a hot commodity....


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Kinder Morgan (NotSo) Surprise...Ron's Obviousness Comes To Pass.


Well, well, well...

As we noted a few days ago, Mr. Mason of the Globe was 'right' that the Trans Mountain pipeline approval process mess would end up in court.

And it turns out that the word 'court' was the cab(ernet)-whistle signal to Ms Notley to begin her climb down.

From the National Observer's un-bylined bit on the latest development in the story:

...Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is temporarily ending her province's ban on B.C. wine after (B.C.) Premier John Horgan announced a new court action to defend rules that could stop Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

"We'll be buying wine again," Notley told reporters at a late afternoon news conference...

Which brings us back to our original point written in the wake of the Mr. Obvious' initial piece:

...(T)his (legal) eventuality would fully explain why any politician can say and do whatever they want for whatever purpose, political point scoring (and/or future cover creating?) or otherwise, in the interim...


It's almost as if the puffed-up Lotuslandian proMedia punditry that covers local politics doesn't understand how the game is actually played.

And/or understand when they are being played.

If you get my drift.

Off topic but....Hey, look!....In the wake of the federal info watchdog's parting shot, Professor Holman has come out to play!...With historical perspective and citations and everything.