Monday, December 5, 2011

A note of thanks to readers

I began Northern Insights in April 2009 as an exercise to develop writing skills. Early on, I heard a joke about how most bloggers would double the audience if they could get spouses to read their blogs. Well, I more than doubled my audience since early days but the important person in the house still doesn't read it. She claims she doesn't have to - she hears every issue in detail anyway, whether she want to or not.

Regardless, Northern Insights enjoyed a steady growth and, last month, the count of readers easily exceeded the total for the entire first year. I take great pride in now having opportunity to communicate with tens of thousands of other citizens and I believe online sites like this will become increasingly important in the next few years. The professional media created a vacuum that bloggers like me aim to fill.

I only wish we had more resources for research because one thing that I've learned is that the cheaters - this is particularly true in the energy sector - have learned how to bury frauds against the public interest under endless layers of unintelligible jargon - impenetrable bafflegab that creates records designed to obscure detail, not elucidate. Connected rainmakers rely upon confusion and imprecision in laws they help to write. Imagine the foolishness of a system that enabled fearless lobbyists Patrick Kinsella, Ken Dobell and others to conduct business in Victoria without being registered as lobbyists.

I've been digesting endless documents about BC Hydro and read today details of a situation uncovered a few years ago where the CEO of a provincial energy crown had a financial relationship with a private company that gained huge contracts with the agency he headed. Was he removed immediately? No, the situation was smoothed over with platitudes and rationalizations. The executive quietly departed sometime later, reputation intact, sort of. Was this issue widely covered by the corporate media? Hah!

Canadians are resourceful people; if we can't trust the traditional sources of information, we will look for it and circulate it among ourselves and complain mightily against those who stand in the way of authentic transparency. The boomer generation is entering retirement - I'm part of the first wave - and many of us intend to be like Rafe Mair as he approaches 80: Still Ranting.
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  1. Norm

    A note of thanks to you for all your labours on this site and your excellent posts.

    Your posts are prolific, precisely pointed, thought provoking and informative. It is no wonder your readership and following has grown so impressively. I suspect many BC Liberals insiders follow your blog but not with the same delight.

    I appreciate and look forward to your observations and your reflective reader comments. Great to hear you will be continuing on, leading the first wave with Raif (and others). I also try and get my wife to read this blog and she does so on occasion, but also pleas that she doesn't have to because so often choice bits are read out loud to her.

    Thanks and keep up the great work.


  2. When one listens to Bill Boring and his assorted clones on that tired old dog, radio '98, one would think that bloggers were irrational peddlers of nonsense, when they, themselves are the purveyors of propaganda.

    The blog has become the fifth estate because the main stream media have abandoned that position, becoming corporate and political poodles.

    Write on and spread the word as the blog is the 21st century equivalent of the printing press and the blog is revolutionizing news as the printing press did in the early 15th century.

    Those in the MSM are like dinosaurs stuck in a tar pit, too ponderous and slow to save themselves.

    It is an ill thing to be the first to bring news of ill.


  3. Your link at the end goes to paypal.

  4. As a citizen, I'm increasingly grateful for your work and that of other bloggers. It's not that you can be right all the time, but to provide a source for information which otherwise would be buried...that's something precious.

    CBC will host a "live chat" tomorrow at 1230 on BC's top news story of the year. A host of issues, particularly Basi-Virk, should be added to their shortlist. Hope folks join in with their top stories.

  5. We may be resourceful, but we need to have the will to drive us to good information and analysis. I was riding home with some fellow recreational musicians, a couple of whom have taken to looking at the world in a different way as they have accepted some of my own rantings as having merit. This is nice, but there wondered what people do who don't know someone who, as in my own case, seeks out the knowledge that exists beyond PostMedia and the like, and a tingling sense told me that it wasn't quite time yet to point out to them that they have access to everything that I read, and that I would even point them in the right direction. It would have come across as snarky and hectoring, and it's taken me years to get this far, so I don't want to push too hard. The problem arises in the speed with which the transformation and lockdown of society is taking place where we may soon lose the ability to discourse freely across time and space, to organize peaceful and meaningful reorganization. Re: resources, put up a donations button. Several times I wished that Sean Holman had accepted one-time donations rather that an exclusive subscription option. I often have some resources to share, but I'm an old retired guy and can't commit to an every month donation. Even Jim Scott over at Saltspringnews put up a donation path when he had major tech failure a couple of years ago. I used to really enjoy curling up with a pot of coffee and a couple of fat weekend newspapers on a Saturday morning, but I won't shovel a dollar into any of those enterprises any longer, so I'd as soon direct it to you, or BC Mary, or RossK, or KootKoot, or NVGramps there the possibility of contract work for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives? or could there be a coalition of bloggers who form a co-op with a single donation path for the co-op, proceeds to be divvied up by the bloggers themselves and research to be shared amongst all?

    I do some commenting on-line (, but feel that I have neither the time nor the resources to slog through FOI requests and the like to give factual weight to my observations, but I don't mind helping out in whatever way I can. I really appreciate what you do here, and will rue the day when you decide to discontinue what I view as a tremendous service to humanity from our little corner of the Earth.

  6. Thank you for what you're doing Norm. I'm of your vintage and really admire your courage and passion. I have a feeling that young aspiring journalists will be looking to people like you for inspiration rather than those now foisted on us by the MSM. You may have hit the trail late, but you're blazing it nonetheless.

  7. And your link .... still ranking...... goes to paypal...

    ooooops, I say old man

  8. Thank you so much for the great blog you keep up for the public interest. One thing that stands you out from other good bloggers is that you never insult others.

    Your writing is tops and so are you Norman.

  9. I always go see what you are up to as soon as I log on.
    Thanks for the topics and conversations.


  10. Norm, may I be the 1st on here to convey our THANK YOU to you!
    You have entertained me for a very long time, but much more valuable than that, you have educated me.
    I share your observations with many, and this is my "go to" Blog, each and every day.
    So if I may, here's wishing you many more years of good Blogging, and good health!

    Gary L.

  11. I too Norm, want to say THANK YOU. I always go to your site to read the real news/information.

    Bloggers like yourself, BC Mary, Laila, Grant, Rafe, etc. cover the issues and are the real "press" in this province and country.

  12. Thanks for all the kind comments.

    The link I intended was to a page for purchase of Rafe Mair's book: Still Ranting: More Rants, Raves and Recollections. Now corrected.

    It's a worthwhile read, helpful to understanding British Columbia's recent history and our purchase through the link supports The Common Sense Canadian website.

    I did not intend to hint at a need for financial resources for Northern Insights. I was wishing I had a retired lawyer and chartered accountant at hand, able to peel the onions that are ICBC and BC Hydro. I've found the required analysis is near overwhelming from a time point of view. Accuracy and readability demands that complexity is overcome, a demanding process.

    For those with a few resources, support Damien Gillis and Rafe Mair at the Common Sense Canadian or The Tyee or American sites ProPublica and

    Of the numerous BC environmental groups, I doubt there are any better than the Wilderness Committee where Joe Foy and Gwen Barlee manage passionate campaigns that pay great attention to the needs of local communities.

  13. Vaughn Palmer's hatchet job on the NDP in his Tues Dec 6 column was disturbing. And unlike bloggers, such as you Norm, Harv or Bill T, or even fellow journalists such as Mike Smyth and Gary Mason, no comments are allowed on Vaughn's postings so his remarks go unchallenged.

    In the Tues Dec 6 column, Vaughn asserted that the NDP were just as bad to welfare recipients in the 1990s as the Liberal have been in the past 10 years. He ignores the fact the Liberals denied people welfare (hence the explosion of homelesness in every corner of our province).

    Vaughn ignores the fact that the Liberals (unlike the NDP) clawed back any extra earnings and child support from single parents on welfare pushing kids and their parents further into poverty. BC has a terrible record on child poverty with the Liberals, both the "working poor" families and families on welfare.

    He ignores the fact that under the Liberals, single parents had to go back to work when kids were only three, and that the Liberals threatened to cut people off welfare after two years and made all people on disability social assistance reapply with a confusing 25 page form. Under this stress and uncertainty some people committed suicide.

    All of this research (and how welfare is worse under the Liberals) is easily available from independent source. This is why in 2007 the Ombudsman investigated about the provincial Liberals denying desperately needy people welfare. See the Tyee Apr 13, 2009 story

    Please forgive this rant, Norm. The Dec 6 Vaughn Palmer column was so egregious (with surely more to come as the Liberals seek re-election) I felt compelled to point it out to a community of like-minded souls.

  14. Congratulations on keeping the faith Norm.

    I drop by almost every day to read your musings. Your efforts are very much appreciated.




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