Entrepreneur Idea #18765

September 21, 2021

As a diabetic, I test my blood sugars several times a day.  I use a sophisticated testing machine that the manufacturer gives me for free. They make their money from my purchase of the testing strips that these machines require — one for every test.

This gave me the idea — which I offer to the oil companies for a very tiny royalty — that Big Oil should buy all the automakers and give away cars to anyone who wants them. Big Oil would continue to make their enormous profits from our purchase of the gasoline that these cars will require. Moreover, by giving away free cars, they are likely to prolong their own marketability.

What shall we say?  10% of 1% of revenues for my royalty sounds perfectly reasonable.


Image: Life Like A Movie

September 21, 2021


Poem: Dead Heroes

September 20, 2021

 


Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, Brian Jones
And all those Grateful Rolling Mothers
Taught me that play is serious business

That play lives in the moment
That play is life

That an extended bluesy riff
Is infinitely more important than a timeclock

That a jiving rolling rock tune
Weighs so much more than a brand new car each year
So much more than a mortgage
And a closet of three-piece suits

That Janis Joplin was more beautiful than Ally MacBeal

That Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix
died for our sins
that their deaths preceeded ours by just a blink
in geological time

that if music be the food of love
I am obese with passion

That a great rythym guitar is better
Than bad sex
And that great sex is even better with rock and roll pounding in your head.

Play on, dead heroes
Play on and on and on ….

 


What Jobs?

September 19, 2021

The always useful Visual Capitalist site has come up with this interesting graphic to visualize how the job market may change over the next ten years:

Health care jobs seem to be the big winner; and that should be no surprise given the ageing population and the current fatuation with covid.


Image: Turban #2

September 19, 2021


Lottery Obesity

September 18, 2021

I notice that the jackpot in next Tuesday’s LottoMax is worth $60 million plus another $6 million in extra prizes. Beyond the issue of lotteries being a tax on the poor based entirely on a greedy society, the total prize fund seems ridiculous to me.

People will still buy the tickets if the prize was capped at, say, $25 million. After all, everyone is aware that the infinitesimally tiny odds of winning don’t change dramatically with the inflated prizes. And this week alone, for example, we would have an additional $41 million to distribute to help solve some of society’s genuine problems — affordable housing, mental health issues, increased use of food banks, infrastructure in First Nations’ communities, etc., etc.

Capping lottery prizes at this level would produce hundreds of millions a year spread around for the general welfare. Wouldn’t this be more worthwhile than creating a small number of extremely lucky millionaires, while still allowing the “dreams” that $25 million could bring?


The “original” Craig’s List?

September 18, 2021

In those distant days before the internet, sixty years before Craig’s List, and using just the telephone, a couple from East Vancouver set up a middle-man position for people trying to buy and sell things.

“People who want to buy or sell anything can phone Boyd’s List and will receive information where buyers and/or sellers can be contacted.  A very reasonable charge is made for this service.” — Highland Echo, 24 April 1952.

Craig’s List … Boyd’s List — even the name is not new!


Progress at Alma Blackwell

September 18, 2021

A few days ago, I wrote about the problems residents were having at the Alma Blackwell housing site on Adanac Street which the Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society (ENF) wants to demolish and rebuild. Today I am happy to report that the tenants’ loud voices, including at the community meeting held last week, have elicited a hopeful statement from ENF.

In their notice to the tenants, ENF note their organization has undergone organizational changes at both the Board and staff levels but that they are committed to “continuing the legacy of providing inclusive, safe, and affordable housing for women, families, and seniors at Alma Blackwell,” and they understand that “the news of the redevelopment was challenging to receive.”

They note that ENF have not yet made a formal development application to the City and thus “tenants will not need to move until Fall 2022 at the earliest.” They further commit to hiring a Tenant Relocation specialist “to ensure a smooth transition for each tenant.”

“In the meantime, we will be continuing to offer relocation options to tenants in our own portfolio when these opportunities arise. We encourage tenants to accept relocation opportunities that suit their needs when they become available – these offers are optional, and all tenants may choose to remain at Alma Blackwell until the end of the Four Month Notice to End Tenancy if they wish to do so. We are not permitted to issue tenants a Four Month Notice to End Tenancy until our Development and Building Permits are approved by the City, and the City will not approve these permits until we meet the requirements of the [City’s] Tenant Relocation Protection Policy (TRPP), including finding alternative accommodation for all eligible tenants.”

They anticipate holding a Tenants’ Meeting as soon as they have the TRPP specialist in place in order to discuss further details.

So, it looks as though the concerned tenants have some breathing room at least, and perhaps have time to persuade ENF that demolition of the current building is not the best solution. Just as important, ENF is now very aware, if they were not before, that both the tenants and the community as a whole will be watching developments with a keen interest.


Let The People Speak

September 17, 2021

Back in the bad old days, when the thoroughly anti-democratic Vision party ruled Vancouver, they forced through a motion that required public hearings which could not be completed in a single session to be held during the working day, rather than in the evenings. The motion was introduced partly because daytime meetings are more convenient for both City staff and Councilors. But the primary motive was to reduce the ability of Vancouver electors to have their say on matters of importance to them because most electors work during the day and cannot take time off to speak.

It has to be remembered that Vision had been so bad at public consultation that late-stage public hearings were often the only chance you and I had to voice our opinions – and voice them we did, to the chagrin of Vision and their staff — and even then we were almost inevitably ignored.

Once Vision were unceremoniously booted from office in the 2018 civic election it became possible to revisit this by-law and, in October 2020, a very slim majority (6-5) of the new Council voted to restore evening hearings for reconvened public hearings. Strike one for the people!

However, like Dracula, the monster was only sleeping and has now woken to attack us once again.

Next Tuesday, 21 September, City Council will debate a procedure by-law change establishing a schedule of meetings for 2022. A close examination of the memo reveals that reconvened public hearings (listed as “Public Hearing Reserved”) will generally begin at 3:00pm and some will start as early as 9:30am. If approved, we will be back in the same situation we were with Vision, in which, for example, developers and their supporters can come and speak to Council about a proposal because it is part of their work day, while Jane Doe and Joe Blow who have employment and childcare commitments at that time will miss out.

Who is bringing forward this by-law change? It appears to be the City Clerk’s office; leaned on, no doubt, by the City Manager. And why are we re-visiting a decision made less than one year ago?

And what will the Greens do this time? In the vote last October all three Greens voted against the democratic option, and I asked at that time:

“what were the Vancouver Greens thinking? I know that recently they have been happily leaning on the Vision-esque Americanized City staff for many of their thoughts and actions, but I could not believe they would be so publicly scornful of the public’s right to be part of the debate. It shows their fundamentally un-progressive position on so many issues outside of, perhaps, the environment.”

As CityHallWatch has written about next Tuesday’s vote:

“The changes to allow for reconvened Public Hearings to start as early as 9:30 am will only be debated by Council (there will be no public speakers allowed), so the only way for concerned citizens to take action on this matter is to directly contact members of Council (by phone, e-mail, social media, or other means). A simple message that these changes are not welcome could make a difference in the Council vote on the topic.”

I encourage everyone to write and complain about this proposed change.


Image: Lily

September 17, 2021


Image: Pirates in Puerto Vallerta

September 15, 2021


Twenty Five Years and Counting

September 15, 2021

Yet another year without cigarettes. Twenty-five years today, wow.

It might seem tedious to keep harping on this year after year, but frankly I think giving up smoking after 35 years of two-pack-a-day slavery to the habit was the smartest and bravest thing I ever did. And I know for a dead certainty that I would not be here writing this today if I had continued smoking the way I did.

So I’ll keep celebrating my freedom, year after year!


Poem For Battle of Britain Day

September 15, 2021

We Shall….

 

If a miracle

or the toss of a coin

could have summoned peace

and coated our wounds with a soothing balm

we would not have been tardy

to accept it

in those forlorn days of 1939 and 1940

but as the umber clouds of autumn

turned first to dusky grey and then to the darkest night

of wartime winter

and then it’s spring again

and our boys again

are battling for the open blue skies again

and we settle in for the long haul

we accept that their sacrifice

shall not be in vain

and we pray not for a miracle

or a coin toss

but for victory

 

 

The original Battle of Britain Day was 15 September 1940.


The Killing of Alma Blackwell

September 14, 2021

In the early 1980s, a small group of women decided they needed a safe affordable place to live and to develop a community for women and their children. To achieve their ends, they established a Housing Society called “Entre Nous Femmes” which eventually built and developed the 46-unit Alma Blackwell housing project at 1656 Adanac Street, named after the grandmother of one of the group’s founders.

Alma Blackwell rapidly became the community the founders hoped for. Many women in need and their children lived in the housing project, often for decades. It has continued to thrive as a community and its success created the ability for the Housing Society to build more and more similar projects until today, ENF has eleven buildings in Vancouver.

Although not legally structured as a co-op, the ENF project operated within that milieu: the residents helped build and maintain the buildings, and controlled the Society. However, as the years passed, the governance became more and more removed from the residents, more distant, until today the residents are not only not allowed to be directors of the society, and are routinely refused access to the Society’s minutes, they even find it difficult to find out who is a director of their Society.

That change in governance has been matched by the recent unwillingness of the Society to maintain the property in a fit and livable manner. Moreover, a number of vacancies have occurred over the last couple of years which the Society has seen fit not to fill — even while the City suffers its worst ever housing crisis. This led to suspicions that something big was afoot — but the Society would not explain to the residents except to suggest that the Society did not have the funds needed to keep the building in good repair. When asked for details of the repair costs, the Society refused to respond to residents’ requests.

In April this year, Vancouver City Council approved a motion that doubled the height of buildings allowed in certain zones, including the RM-3A zone in which Alma Blackwell sits. Almost immediately thereafter, plans to demolish Alma Blackwell and replace it with a much larger building were bruited and the residents were given, by a consultant hired by the Society, an unofficial official eviction notice.

Since that time, the Society has essentially refused to speak with the residents except to pressure several of them to accept relocation to other facilities. The Society has no formal Tenant Relocation Plan, is not offering any compensation, and in at least one case offered a resident a mere 24 hours to decide whether she and her child would move from the their decades-long home and move to another building, the details of which were not disclosed.

This story, and plenty of others, were movingly told by Alma Blackwell residents at last night’s Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) meeting. All the talk was about how great a community had been fostered at Alma Blackwell; people have lived there long enough to have children and grandchildren. They are a close-knit family-like community with good and close ties to the rest of the neighbourhood. Many of the residents are teachers at Britannia.

It seemed a unanimous opinion of the large gathering at the meeting that it is simply ridiculous to destroy a perfectly good low-income community just to build a larger facility that will have to start from scratch once again after a gap of who-knows-how-many years. It is pointless from a neighbourhood point of view, and it is highly destructive to the current residents, families who have spent years developing and nurturing that community.

Councillor Jean Swanson attended the meeting and will be asking a number of questions of staff. However, she was pessimistic about the chances of reversing the course of this development, given the current majority on Council and the previously-approved zoning adjustment. No matter. The wider Grandview community needs to speak up about this, and I hope we can speak so loudly that we cannot be ignored.


Image: Street Art #1

September 13, 2021


Poem: Alphabetizing Two Worlds

September 13, 2021

 

 

It was easy to place History before Politics,

Medicine before Physicians; and

“Snow Fell on Cedars”

had to come after

“Escape From Alcatraz”.

But how was he to choose

Literature over Culture

or Astronomy over Alchemy?

And Asimov could go anywhere,

With his reflections about water

On the half-moons of Venus.

With bookcases brushing the ceilings,

And more volumes stacked halfway up walls,

melding the books, shuffling the pages,

was turning out to be the hardest part

of moving in together.

 

Amid the piles of unsorted memoirs he halted,

His unpacking abandoned.

He remembered the dancing, the dinners,

The walking.

It was easy to place Love before Duty.

 

 


Lascaux

September 12, 2021

On this day in 1940, the Lascaux caves in central France were discovered by four teenagers. As they entered the long shaft down into the cavern, the boys saw vivid pictures of animals on the walls.

 

When the site was made available in the later 1940s, this cave art was wildly popular with the public. More importantly, it allowed everyone, both public and scientists, to understand more clearly that the so-called “cave men” were far more than the mindless brutes of previous imagination.

At about 17,000 years old, the Lascaux images are far from being the earliest known cave art today — several caves in Europe and Indonesia have art from about 40,000 years ago, and a recent “sketch” on a rock in South Africa may be much older.  However, the enormous trove of images (more than 900 animals identified) at Lascaux combined with the encouragement of tourist traffic to the location has allowed this cave complex to become the best known of all cave art.

The discovery at Lascaux marked an important anniversary in our understanding of who we are and where we came from.


Image: Wave 2

September 11, 2021


9/11 and the Death of Democracy

September 11, 2021

Forty-eight years ago, on 9/11 in 1973, the US-financed-and-organized plan to overthrow the legally elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was put into action.

Crowds in Santiago celebrating the electoral victory of Salvador Allende

During the violent military assault, the President died (assassinated or committed suicide to avoid capture) and over the next few years of the vicious and inhuman dictatorship of US-supported Pinochet, thousands of Chileans were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

allende

What happened in New York on this day 28 years later was also vicious and inhuman. However, it is about time for some reconciliation and regret for the extraordinary litany of war crimes the US has committed. If any US network or major media even mentions the Chilean anniversary during what will almost certainly be today’s spasm of Trump-like breast-beating, that would be a tiny start.


Buying A Cheap Vote

September 10, 2021

I was waiting at the bus stop this morning with a few other people, most of whom were clearly pensioners. Along came two guys from the local seniors’ home who loudly proclaimed that they had just voted.

“We voted for the guy that’s giving us a $500 bonus pension,” said one of the new comers. “You’ll all be daft if you don’t vote for him, too,” said the other.

Most of the audience nodded.