The Party of Science Denial

The Party of Science Denial

Sunday, Mar 21, 2021

Listening To: Dishpit - Dipshit
Photo: A trip to Bowen Island to visit friends (when that was a thing)

Canada’s main opposition party members reject proposal to recognize climate change as real

That’s right. Made headlines around the world yesterday. In this day and age, despite nearly unanimous consensus in the scientific community.

And it’s not because many of them don’t believe in science, it’s because the population doesn’t. That’s doesn’t pay attention, doesn’t care, doesn’t want to think about it. You can fill in the rest.

This is the the political party which garnered the most votes in the last election (but because of mechanics, didn’t “win”).

This is the party “most” Canadians favour.

Canadians are shitty people. Sure, it’s a generalisation, but drive in Vancouver’s rush hour traffic and see if you don’t agree. And don’t wave to the electric car drivers. They’ll only save the world if they run on renewable energy. They don’t., better to buy something used and drive less.

https://extinction.fyi/

1 minutes read
10 Degrees Centigrade

10 Degrees Centigrade

Monday, Mar 8, 2021

Listening To: Muncie Girls - From Caplan to Belsize
Photo: A Civia Halsted fitted with a open topped dog crate

It’s a warm summer afternoon today. A seasonal tipping point. And time to do something about it.

This year has been a bit different as many of us have become accustomed to driving. Normally it would be biking on good days and the bus during the cold and wet winter weather we have locally. But, despite the “masks mandatory” signs on the local transit, every one I’ve tried has a few to half a dozen no-maskers aboard. Fuck that. It’s not that I’m a weather wuss (and indeed used to bike year round) but hauling Stanley’s ass about has changed that up. I had two spectacular wipe-outs on black ice with him aboard and while we were both (eventually) OK, it’s taught me to be more cautious.

The cargo bike pictured was built to transport Stanley and I between cities (Vancouver to New Westminster) when I commuted to a film lot there. A couple of big hills were too much to ride a heavy bike up manually so the electrics were installed. It wasn’t a low-end job, at thirty three percent assist I could apparently make it a hundred kilometres. It’s my summer transport of choice, and that starts about now. Just needs a bit of regular maintenance and a wipe-down. If doofus isn’t coming along, there is a road bike presently hung on the wall. I don’t love it, truth be told. The Brodie Romulus had a cool name and does work well but my body has never loved the “swoopy” handlebar setup. Crap, they’re expensive now (I paid less than half MSRP), Perhaps trading across for a something with a more upright posture may be in order.

There are some restrictions to biking in general, Vancouver is a high-crime city which features a significant amount of bike theft, no matter how you secure them. Luckily our studio communal space is empty now so I can store it and go about my business. Otherwise it’s a lovely ride down to the waterfront and along it even all the way out to “Spanish Banks”, which is on a peninsula by the local university. There’s a dog beach that has shade and lets Stanley dig holes to his little heart’s content.

Just walked to the grocery store in shorts and a T-shirt. Awesome.

2 minutes read
Party Like It's 1999

Party Like It's 1999

Friday, Feb 19, 2021

Listening To: Hacked Podcast - The Year Double Zero
Photo: “BOO”. Another one of my old medical fosters. I’ll write about her on day. And cry doing it.

Just listened to the Hacked podcast linked above. It’s about the Y2K bug. The issues with computers had when hitting the year “Double Zero” and the chaos it caused society.

Somewhere in the late 90’s I had cause to rent some office space, and found it in a place chock full of what could only be described as “grey beards”. Lovely bunch. They were a group of COBOL programmers who came out of retirement to fix some of the problems computer code had with… time. And make stupid amounts of money doing so. Sometime about 1997 governments and corporations around the world woke up and started throwing serious cash at the problem. The rent was cheap and the company good. Learned a lot from those folks.

Millennium New Year’s Eve itself was spent in Germany. The media had not been so “doom and gloom” about the issue and, frankly, I’m not sure your average German would care. I remember standing on a elevated railway crossing, beer in hand (no such prudish rules there) and watching a 360 degree panorama of fireworks being set off across the city. It was awesome.

Early the next day we headed out for a walk and found a dance band still playing in a city square at 8:00am. A few slow dancing couples still at it. I sat there nursing a hangover and watched bulldozers get to work as the number of bottles strewn about had made the roads impassible.

A very good start to the millennium.

2 minutes read
Nix Is Everywhere

Nix Is Everywhere

Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021

Listening To: No Means No - Wrong
Photo: Having a coffee while the Main St. Fire is doused.

I got a comment the other day that using our Linux-based video streaming system was “non-standard”. All they had to do was enter their username and password then click on a icon to run an application. The exact same application that runs on all the major desktop platforms. Yes, I rolled my eyes.

The ironic thing is that most people use Unix or Linux on a daily basis. It’s behind many of the devices we interact with. Apple uses it for all their products and even Windows now includes the ability to run not only command-line Linux but full desktops. Desktops that resemble other operating systems and some that are quite unique. There is a lot of choice (Plasma is my go to).

I’m going to use “Unix” and “Linux” interchangeably here and while a purist may want me to note the various distinctions between the two it really doesn’t matter to those using them with any sort of graphical interface.

Here’s a short random list of things that use one of the two underneath:

  • Android/ChromeOS (1)
  • IOS (1)
  • macOS (1)
  • Amazon Kindle (1)
  • Sony Playstation (1)
  • The Internet (1)
  • The Top 500 supercomputers (1)
  • Roku (1) and Tivo (1)
  • NASA (1)
  • “Smart Things”: Your Fridge, TV and Light Bulbs (1)
  • Teslas (1) and many other cars (2)
  • Intel Processors (1)

Look at that last one. Arguably the most popular operating in the world is something called MINIX. And it’s used by much of Intel’s processor line as a management engine.

So, “Normal”.

2 minutes read
Fighting Facial Recognition

Fighting Facial Recognition

Friday, Feb 5, 2021

Listening To: Destructos - Blast
Photo: A Tandy 102 portable computer (and Willy). Used by field reporters for many years as it ran up to twenty hours on common batteries and included a modem to file reports with. Still works!

The various Privacy Watchdogs of Canada just filed a report finding that Clearview AI’s facial recognition software use in Canada was not legal. It seemed obvious from the outset (scraping copyrighted images and using them without consent) but various corporate and government entities resisted and even denied using the technology until leaked documents exposed them.

Joint investigation of Clearview AI, Inc. by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, and the Information Privacy Commissioner of Alberta

is the source but you can find both interviews and summaries from various media outlets. (TYEE) (CBC)

How to protect against this? The best thing an individual can do is familiarise themselves with the present privacy laws (Federal, Provincial (BC), Document Act) and have a good think before giving away any personal information. Especially to government and businesses who have proven not only to disrespect it, but often seem unwilling or unable to protect it. I worked with a woman who, several years after the Sony Hack, was still feeling the effects of identity theft.

If you are refused a job, good or service because of your application of the privacy laws, there is a formal grievance process through the office of your local Privacy Commissioner. It can be considered a form of actionable discrimination. There is often a thirty day cool-down period for the parties to negotiate before the formal application can be made, but I found submitting the complaint documentation directly to the head office of the company you are dealing with makes for swift action.

Seems nobody wants a government privacy audit of their practices.

Funny that.

2 minutes read
Not The Whole Truth

Not The Whole Truth

Wednesday, Feb 3, 2021

Listening To: Sofia Portanet - Freier Geist (“Planet Mars” is perhaps my best find of 2021 so far).

Filed my first complaint against a major media organisation today. I won’t name them as the practice seems common and to their credit, they have now changed the article’s text to better reflect the present pandemic rules.

A number of published articles recently have included blanket statements such as:

British Columbia restrictions include a ban on gathering with anyone outside one’s household”.

This is not accurate.

If you read British Columbia’s Official Province-wide Restrictions document it states that this restriction applies to multi-person households. Single-person households have a limited exemption in that they are allowed to have up to two outside contacts (expand the “Core bubble” portion of the document linked above). There are also some exceptions for other cases.

Somewhere around four million Canadians over the age of 15 live alone and many either don’t work, or work from home these days. Expecting them all to completely isolate themselves 24/7 isn’t reasonable:

  • extended isolation has been shown to cause both physical and mental illness. (1) (2)
  • one may need to move for some reason. From escaping a abusive partner to being evicted or renovicted. (1) (2)
  • nobody knows when this will end. (1) (2)

The risk from a single person household who is obeying the pandemic rules can be very low. For instance: I generally work and live alone and only frequent businesses respecting the rules (grocery shopping off-peak, only buying take-out, wearing a mask outdoors when near others etc.).

Note that going for a “safe walk” is also within the current rules.

If you can, please get outside! Stanley could always use another sunny day walking buddy. Get in touch (top left site button) if you’re in need. Reach out to somebody if you’re struggling.

I have.

2 minutes read

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

Photo: “Neither Mine Nor Yours, 9- view 2” by Michelle Dickson - (Website) (Instagram) Used with permission of the creator.
Listening to: Video Killed the Radio Star - Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club

A Guardian article ‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review just pissed me off (again) about the media’s attempts to control what or who we find attractive.

As a society we should grow up and recognise that everybody has different tastes and stop “listening to the voices”. Personally I find “character” attractive. What kind? Who knows, until it smacks one upside the head. Imagining what it’s like to talk to someone seems far more relevant than wondering how the masses will judge you with “that on your arm”. After all, there is only so long you can strut around in public, and a whole lot of time spent in private communicating with that person.

The same can go for media we consume. If you were casting a movie, would you want to pick actors that were right for the part or a generically attractive cast to please the broadest of fan bases (and the marketing department)? And I’ll admit here to indulging in a bit of reverse discrimination. If looking for a show to watch and the caption picture is filled with a (oft retouched) attractive ensemble cast, I’ll not read the description and move on. After all, if the casting is that generic, imagine what the script is like.

There have been a few interesting science articles about attraction in the past. From the chemical science behind lust, attraction and companionship to mid-20’s females are the most attractive to the broadest range of people or that if you average the faces of multiple people it turns out attractive. The age based bias seems obvious because of ingrained reproduction strategies, but the latter is interesting in that stereo-typically attractive people could be considered “generic”. And perhaps visually boring.

Or perhaps that’s just my own slant on things.

(edit: deleted personal content)

2 minutes read
13 Feet of Kraftwerk

13 Feet of Kraftwerk

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

Listening to: KRAFTWERK - Trans Europe Express
Rule: Don’t change a litterbox until Willy switches to a different one.

A article in The Guardian this morning tweaked a bit of a Kraftwerk binge. Revival of Trans Europe Express ‘key to EU’s carbon neutrality also reminded me of past train trips. Mostly in Europe but also a memorable one from Thunder Bay to Calgary after a stint of tree planting. There were half a dozen of us, many engaged in crafts or reading. I spent a lot of my time with a mutual crush (alas we both had a partner back home). It was really rather romantic.

Also in the news were a few articles relating the (welcome) news that various governments policies towards the pandemic are finally beginning to relate to the actual science. A spring 2020 article on particle transmission stated “safe social distancing” should be thirteen feet. Indeed “twelve feet” is a suggested unmasked distance guideline in the province of Ontario and is now being put forward in France. The article also reminds us that good “home made non-medical” masks are only about 70% effective (properly fitted medical up to 95%). So distancing of six feet should be mandatory unless medical masks are worn. As they already should be in workplaces where staff cannot maintain distancing.

Now if I could only figure out how to not fog up my glasses while wearing a mask (and no, nothing suggested has worked so far). It’s OK, everybody looks better with a little defocus anyway ;-).

2 minutes read
Bullying

Bullying

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021

Listening to: Still Little Fingers - Inflammable Material
Rule: Call it out when you see it.

Two incident over the last month have reinforced my views on free speech, end-to-end encrypted private messaging and hatred of bullies. Growing up as foreign-accented mouthy kid in prairie Canada, I saw a lot of the latter first-hand.

The first incident was in a coffee shop just before Christmas. A staff member seemingly wanted to talk to a customer but was literally shouted down by another employee. The offender let off a endless verbal barrage intended to purge the room of any other speech. I can’t imagine what they thought justified the behaviour or the motivations behind it but reactions in the room varied from uncomfortable to outright horrified.

The second was a article released today by The Guardian: Woman jailed for record 43 years for insulting Thai monarchy. I thought I misread the headline at first. It’s sad to think governments are so repressive (and “the west” is not immune. Business use SLAPP tactics to silence criticism, governments give themselves permission to assassinate their own citizens and reporters are routinely murdered worldwide.)

While the scales are vastly different, both of the examples above were intended to end discourse.

To prevent constructive (edit: changed from “free” in light of recent events) speech and suppress any further attempts.

Objecting to something on legitimate grounds is something to be encouraged. To discuss an issue in an open and fair manner. The matter may never result in agreement, but to prevent the conversation in the first place is:

Bullying

2 minutes read
C-11

C-11

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021

Listening to: Tom Tom Club - Genius of Live   Photo: Home on a Sunny Day (built around 1913)

The CBC has an opinion piece posted “Digital privacy law is being updated for the first time in decades, and it’s imperative we get it right” about the upcoming digital privacy bill C-11. It’s important.

People’s lives are their own and they should have control on who has access to the details of it. Let’s not let the corporate mono/duopolyies decide.

1 minutes read

About Me

A dorky artist living in Vancouver, BC.

email: flay@pm.me

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