Friday, August 24, 2012

The fun theory

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In sheep's clothing

Bob Mackin has an interesting piece in The Tyee about a newspaper tycoon and BC Liberal abettor. David Black's bluster was about about oil refining but the part of Mackin's story that caught my eye involved one-time Province newspaper publisher Paddy Sherman.

In 1958, Sherman was both a news reporter and an avid mountain man. Apparently, vocation served avocation when he wrote a front page promotion for an unlikely BC ski resort. There was no financing and little substance to the extravagant plan but that didn't bother The Province. Sherman wanted the facility to proceed so they gave it maximum splash.

Mackin provides another newspaper's eventual headline:
"Grandiose Garibaldi Scheme Falls Flat on Its No-Assets."
Some months ago, I tracked the life story of Jumbo Glacier Ski Resort. The proposal has reappeared occasionally since it was first reported in a July 1991 edition of the Vancouver Sun:
"A Japanese-backed company is planning to build a $250-million year-round ski resort on a series of spectacular glaciers west of Panorama..."
In 1993, The Province was calling Jumbo Glacier Resort a certainty involving European and Asian investors. Two years later, newspapers said the project was proceeding with support from a consortium of Canadian, U.S. and European investors. In 2012, the Times Colonist repeated promises the ski hill would soon be operational. NW's Bill Good and others try to paint Jumbo as a victim of regulatory foot dragging but actually Jumbo has been an unfinanced scheme with proponents hoping that media play would attract investors. Shills in the corporate "news" operations are willing partners.

By the way, don't plan your ski vacation at Jumbo just yet.

Media may have people like Bob Mackin aiming to report accurately and sincerely but it has many more who earn a living by shilling for special financial interests. Sometimes, the promoted is a ski hill, fish farming or "ethical oil." Other times, it is a pipeline operator, car dealer, land developer or whatever.

The shill factor in media, especially in new media, is illustrated by a report in ZDNet.
"A Federal judge overseeing the Oracle vs. Google patent lawsuit said that search giant has failed to comply with a request to document all payments to bloggers and writers covering the trial.

"...U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in his order:
"The August 7 order was not limited to authors “paid . . . to report or comment” or to “quid pro quo” situations. Rather, the order was designed to bring to light authors whose statements about the issues in the case might have been influenced by the receipt of money from Google or Oracle. For example, Oracle has disclosed that it retained a blogger as a consultant. Even though the payment was for consulting work, the payment might have influenced the blogger’s reports on issues in the civil action...

"Google suggests that it has paid so many commenters that it will be impossible to list them all..."
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A little update on the homefront

Ten days ago, comment writer Lew related his renovation experience, saying,
"I was seriously considering a special alteration to the original plans that would effectively conceal the body of a certain municipal building inspector..."
Are there any missing inspectors? I presume Lew was kidding. You were Lew, weren't you?

So far at least, had I made that "special alteration", I'd have nobody to place therein. Last week the gas and plumbing rough-ins of our future kitchen were approved and today the electrical inspector walked away happy. Nearly all of the exposed structural parts are in fine shape and, instead of opening walls and floors, we can start closing. Adequate planning and excellent tradespeople are the keys. We have a slight advantage on the latter because we raised our own plumber / gas fitter and he's a son generous with time and attention.

The good weather better hold though because the not-too-old 80% efficient furnace has been ripped out to make way for one that rates at 97%. It seems that is some weeks away. The old hot water tank is gone, replaced with an on-demand system. We removed a wood burning fireplace and we're upgrading the windows and insulation. The aim is to give this old house a smaller footprint on the environment and make it a more affordable and comfortable home that will last us another four decades.
The toughest part has been living without a kitchen. Restaurants and take-out joints quickly lost appeal when we began to rely on them to feed our family's three generation assemblage.

Northern Insights will remain relatively inactive for a while yet. While the kitchen and family room renovation is proceeding well, the next stage is a second floor addition. That will provide sleeping and play space for three little ones who've come with Mom to live with us.

That provides challenges but, as an old friend said to us last weekend, it will provide opportunity for connections with grandchildren that go well beyond birthday parties and Christmas.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The blogger has not disappeared...

He's at home, under a pile of rubble. The dreck and detritus will have but a fugacious claim on the writer's attention.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One reason why the rich stay that way

Harry Reid: Bain Investor Told Me That Mitt Romney 'Didn't Pay Any Taxes For 10 Years', Huffington Post, July 31, 2012
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has what he says is an informed explanation for why Mitt Romney refuses to release additional tax returns. According a Bain investor, Reid charged, Romney didn't pay any taxes for 10 years.
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