Fruit Art

October 23, 2019

 

Some well-crafted work here.

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Marijuana Has Gone To Pot

October 22, 2019

According to a fascinating feature in Forbes, the major legal marijuana companies are in terrible trouble — because they are growing more weed than anyone could smoke in several lifetimes.

“In just a year after Canada’s historic pot legalization, pot producers built up a massive surplus of pot. In fact, only 4% of pot produced in Canada in July has been sold!”

This has caused the business market to crash.  Aurora Cannabis is “Canada’s largest cannabis producer and one of the most popular pot stocks on earth. In fact, this stock has recently topped Apple as the favorite stock among American Millennials.” But that hasn’t saved the company stock price:

“If you look at Aurora Cannabis’s most recent financial report, you’ll see its revenue grew 52% in the last fiscal quarter, compared to the previous quarter. That sounds good… but it’s hiding a dirty secret.   Aurora Cannabis is actually dumping part of its harvest into “wholesale,” which means it is selling it for cheap… according to a line buried deep in the company’s Q4 financials.  Last fiscal quarter, the company dumped $20 million worth of pot, a 869% increase from the previous quarter. It is doing this because there’s not enough demand from consumers.”

 

The Forbes article likens this to the situation in American agriculture in the 1930s when an overabundance of product caused crops to be burned just to maintain prices at a floor level. They also suggest that the situation is likely to get worse as most large marijuana producers have invested heavily to increase production in the future.

No wonder then that in Canada, street (illegal) prices have fallen while legal dispensaries have to charge much more to meet regulatory stipulations, and thus the number of legal stores has not grown as expected and government revenues are not as they had hoped.


Story Telling On The Drive

October 20, 2019

 

Local award-winning storyteller Jo Dworschak will be hosting a storytelling event she calls Rackle at Cafe Deux Soleils at 8:00pm on October 30th.

She hopes this will be monthly event, featuring a number of local story tellers.  It is a great venue for it.


Female In Focus

October 20, 2019

The British Journal of Photography has established a new annual award called Female in Focus ” that aims to highlight the exceptional quality of work by women photographers around the world – in an industry that still has some considerable way to go to achieve gender parity.”

The Guardian has a selection of the winners. My own favourite is this:

Sandra Minten: With water there is life

Select image for a better view.


Nightmare Alley

October 19, 2019

nightmarealley_02I read “Nightmare Alley“, published in 1946 by William Lindsay Gresham.  It was marvelous.

The novel tells the story of Stan Carlisle who, after a disturbing youth, joins a cheap travelling carnival, and starts to make his way in that world.  He becomes a mentalist, running a fixed game to get cash from vulnerable punters.  Eventually, Carlisle becomes a full-blown spiritualist, holding rigged seances, looking for the big mark, and running roughshod over his wife/partner and his few lovers. Finally, morbidly alcoholic and cheated by his erstwhile partners, a penniless Stan returns to a low-life carnival, offered a job as the geek — the wild man who bites heads off chickens — a humiliating position that he has detested since the first pages of the novel.

Gresham writes the story in a stark modernist style and manages to bring us deep into the worlds of the travelling carnival and spiritualism in the first half of the last century.   This is not the magical realism of Katherine Dunn’s “Geek Love“.  Rather, this is a story of hard-scrabble life, poverty, drunkenness, and the vagaries of “love” in a world where everyone is a mark, everyone is a potential step out of the mud.

A tough and wonderful read.

 


Who Deserves More Respect: City Staff or City Taxpayers?

October 18, 2019

As I have written about before, Vancouver City Councillor Colleen Hardwick has proposed a most important and vital reform of city governance: that, like every other major city in Canada, Vancouver should appoint a completely independent Auditor General.

The function of this position is NOT to ensure that monies are being spent legally — that is the job of the outside auditor which every City is obliged to have.  Rather, the function of the Auditor General will be to ensure that Vancouver city taxpayers are getting value for the taxes they pay, that City departments are being run efficiently and are actually fulfilling the tasks that Council sets for them.  The proposed budget for this new position of about one million dollars a year is an infinitesimally small percentage of Vancouver’s almost $2 billion annual budget and, if other cities’ experience is any guide, will pay for itself several times over in savings and efficiencies identified.

This Motion is to come before City Council next Wednesday and it seems to many of us in the City that there is an open and shut case for such a position, especially as Vancouver is one of the last big cities to make such an appointment. Such positions have proved both successful and indeed invaluable elsewhere.  However, there is resistance to this Motion; partly from the entrenched city bureaucracy that will be the focus of the Auditor General’s work; after all, none of us like to have someone looking over our shoulder while we do our work. One might hope that they will understand in time that more autonomy not less comes with transparency and a proven track record of effective spending.

The opposition from certain Councillors are for reasons that are far less clear. Some Vancouver Green councillors, for example are said to be opposed to the Motion because, according to them, it is disrespectful to the City staff. Nonsense. I ask everyone to read motionb6 and show me where disrespect is shown to staff. These Councillors, apparently, would prefer to refer this to staff for their opinion. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think a completely unbiased assessment is likely to result from such a referral.

Vision Vancouver — whom the electors of Vancouver firmly and decisively removed from office at the last election — often used a referral to staff to minimize, significantly delay, or even bury for ever Motions they didn’t like. Many of us assumed that a new Council would be different.  We hope that is the case here.

But, perhaps they all need to be reminded that, while City staff do deserve respect, the taxpayers of this City deserve it even more.

 


Opium Of The Masses Less Potent Today

October 17, 2019

The Pew Research Centre has issued a major new study entitled “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues At Rapid Pace“.

“In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009 …

“all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious “nones” – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009.”

The decline affects all geographic and socio-economic groups in the States:

 

The odd thing, of course, is that the evangelicals continue their pervasive hold over the Republican Party (even with an idolatrous and adulterous buffoon as leader). I suspect their conservatism will harden even further as their numbers (and influence in the wider community) continue to deteriorate.  But the longterm outlook is bleak for them, and the GOP may disappear along with organized religion if these trends continue and the party doesn’t find another source of support.

‘Religious “nones” are growing faster among Democrats than Republicans, though their ranks are swelling in both partisan coalitions. And although the religiously unaffiliated are on the rise among younger people and most groups of older adults, their growth is most pronounced among young adults.”

There is an enormous amount of valuable data to absorb from this survey and I have only touched on a few high points.  This is well worth studying in more depth.