Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Inmates Running the Asylum in Canada

On May 31, 2013 the B.C. government announced it would not support the Enbridge pipeline project. While this is seen as a major win for  environmentalists, the backers of the project, especially Prime Minister Harper and his conservatives buddies in the Alberta Oil Sands lobby, will continue to push their agenda. 

Hopefully, the environmentalists won't go to sleep, which they are prone to doing. Anyone concerned must keep asking the question: is it sustainable to keep gouging the earth for fossil fuels at a time when climate change has accelerated?

We share the planet, even with oil barons, but we must take a stand to balance our concerns with big oilogarchies which usually get everything they want.

Remain vigilant for any backdoor compromises over the 5 steps that Enbridge could not guarantee. The oil and gas people will no doubt try to change the narrative and turn public attention against the B.C. government through a battering ram of fear-mongering advertisements on the Internet and regular media. Take a stand.

THE INMATES ARE pretty much in control of this nut house. Only here we call the crazies "elected officials". 

For starters, the Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper won’t explain his role in a money laundering scheme in which his staff paid Senator Mike Duffy $90,000 to help the Senator with debts he incurred on "party business" at various Conservative Party functions. The word "scandal" is being used liberally the past two weeks. Harper continues to evade further investigation, calling the cash discrepancy politically inspired. What is known is that Harper asked his chief of staff to walk the plank for him. Now the entire staff at the PMO are on alert looking over their shoulders to see who is next to be pushed under a bus or has to take a bullet for the boss. As long as there are enough staffers Harper won't have to talk about it. . .

THE PMO SCANDAL should have dominated the news but the focus shifted when the Mayor of Toronto grabbed the headlines for the past week. Allegedly, Rob Ford snorted crack and was caught on video with persons known to police. Ford, a right-wing radio talk show host can't be impeached and somehow has remained popular among his listeners and constituents. Stephen Harper is relieved to see his own scandal has disappeared from the news media. . .

WHILE FENDING OFF reporters PM Harper has been busy at the Bank of Canada discussing the issue of a new $90,000 currency note. . .

ASIDE FROM LAUNDERING conservative cash, PM Harper is busy dismantling CBC, the country’s last public communications network. Harper has been trying for years to get rid of what he views as a far left cable channel. Now that the CBC is being de-fanged, Peter Mansbridge, the CBC news anchor and host, introduced a piece of film taken of Harper in 2005 when he first became the Prime Minister. In the film Harper made a speech in which he said that any person associated with scandal over financial dealings would be immediately expelled from the party. The look on Mansbridge’s face told the full story: "Ok, Mister Harper. We’re still waiting. Clear out your desk. We’re having somebody escort you to your car."

APATHY WINS A MAJORITY in British Columbia. With 3,116, 626 registered voters in B.C. only 23 % voted for the winning party, the Liberals. This was the lowest total turnout of any provincial election in B.C. history, 48 percent of registered eligible voters never even bothered. Christy Clark, a single hockey mom, took over the provincial Liberal party in 2011 when the last premier was found in a cave writing frantic press releases and talking to killer whales. Clark, despite trailing by 20 points in the polls, won a majority on a policy platform of “family values”. Before she had a chance to celebrate her win, an aide tapped Ms. Clark on the shoulder with the bad news, “Madam Premier, you lost your seat in West Point Grey.”  Ms. Clark cannot open the provincial legislature until some backbencher is paid to fall on his sword in a “safe” riding. Avid readers of this blog may recall in my last three-dot column that I suggested this might happen. . .
ALBERTA’S  OIL RICH lobbyists are pumping millions of $$$ into social media site like music and film. The campaign in B.C comprises scores of YouTube videos promising the younger demographic to get stoked about job security working in the oil sands and earning a steady income when the revenues kick in. Only problem with that, the young people stayed home during the election and the hype may be lost on them. Nevertheless, they will see a tidal wave of ads aimed at them. The Alberta oil and gas lobbyists are hitting the lamestream television and radio shows to illustrate how British Columbia can become one of the largest oil colonies in the world. Read: Blue-Eyed Arabs. . .

WHAT DOES A Liberal stand for in today’s Canada? Energy development? Clark did not win with the Liberal vote alone. In a post mortem survey of the 2013 election in B.C. Clark was swept to victory by wooing conservative voters to vote for her overwhelmingly. . .
JOBS TRUMP CLIMATE change is the message from the business elites at the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce.  Oh, yeah, remember FIPA ? This was Harper's plan all along to bring Asian workers to work in B.C. as part of a sweeping trade deal with China. 

IN CANADA the provinces have jurisdiction over the development and the export of resources. PM Harper wants to change all that. The man who will make this happen has an eerily sounding name like a Bond villain. Mr. Lounds. He and his British Columbians for International Prosperity  is a murky conglomerate of international heavy oil barons representing oil pipelines, heavy oil construction, oil tankers and dams. Lounds is leading what he calls the fight "against environmentalists". With such friends as Lounds, Harper and his federal conservatives, it looks like lots of suits will be unpacking their bags for a long stay in B.C. over coming months and years to make sure Madam Clark is walking the federal line. 

THE CHRISTY CLARK two-step will look something like this: she will promise jobs with her new pipeline agenda but will begin her next session in the legislature, (presuming she can find a riding to win in), by cutting the provincial budgets for social welfare, unions wage increases and education. She’s already turned her back on raising tax subsidies on the once healthy film industry in B.C. forcing a lot of skilled talent to leave the province. As of this writing, Ms. Clark is still calling herself a Liberal. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Moneyball A's Still Got Cluster Luck

Time Running Out on A's Frugal Moneyball?

UPDATE: June 7,2013

As of today, the A's have won 17 of their last 20 games, the longest win streak in the majors. And they are winning with "Cluster Luck". Once again they are winning at the last at-bat, and most recently came from behind with a bases-loaded home run in the 9th inning to defeat the Chicago White Sox 4-3.

 The A's then proved it on defense, catching a home run ball to rob the White Sox of a sure home run. The A's now lead the Western Division of the American Conference, overcoming the Texas Rangers (again) after being behind the Rangers by 7 games a couple of weeks ago. 

The biggest smile in the room these days are those in the front office, the guys who put together this rag-tag group of under-rated guys over this past winter. Billy Beane and his staff tinkered with the line-up, experimented and then put what they had on the diamond. Look at what happened.

 For comparison, you can follow the Toronto Blue Jays.

Post from May 9, 2013

My most popular posts since beginning this blog have been about the Moneyball Oakland A's. Throughout this blog you will find some earlier posts about their incredible 2012 season. Or, then again, maybe baseball is not your thing. That's okay.

The Oakland A’s are playing at the .500 mark after playing 36 games in the 2013 MLB season. The A’s are in the midst of a prolonged and brutal eastern swing through Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, the Yankees and Cleveland, big money teams expected to be among those fighting for divisional playoff spots at the end of the season. The A's have suffered some injuries and are 4-6 in their last ten games.

To start the season the A’s fed off Houston, the LA Angels and the Seattle Mariners to build up the win column to the delight of the faithful, who are still pretending general manager Billy Beane won’t move the A’s to San Jose in the future. The elephant in the Coliseum all year will be "the move".

The A’s are are now four games behind the Texas Rangers, the most expensive team in baseball. The  heavily favored Rangers fell in a short series when the A’s demolished them in an thrilling finish last season.

What should still be good news for A's fans so far this season is that the team's “Cluster Luck” is intact.  This, according to author Joe Peta

Cluster Luck is when something unidentifiable happens that allows a team to win in the most dramatic fashion consistently. The A's led the majors in the most walk-off wins last year, a sure sign that their mojo is working.

Already this season, the A's recently played the season's longest game, a 19th inning affair in which the A's came from six runs behind to tie the game in the 9th inning, then played another ten innings to win the game with a home run. I gave up and went to bed in the 13th. I understand the game will be nominated for game of the season. 

A couple of days ago, the A's battled back to tie the Cleveland Indians in the 9th with a dramatic home run, only to see an umpire call it a double. The A's lost.

Peta wrote, Trading Bases, a book that gives baseball fans yet another book on how professional baseball teams are run. Peta, did not pick Oakland as a divisional winner last year nor has he seen great things this season for the A's, but his analysis of the "x" factor, as in cluster luck, certainly fits the A's.

Peta, a high-flying Wall Street trader, used his theories in stock management and applied them to baseball, a sport he follows like a fan, only he places really large bets to underscore how well his theories are working on the baseball field. 

In fact, Peta came up with a system and took it to Las Vegas where he tested his theory in the gaming pits betting on games. His book describes how he built up  an impressive gambling fund over the course of a year.

“What I learned is that baseball teams do do a lot better job evaluating their players as investments than business does,”says Peta. “Business might look to baseball to see how they can better evaluate business managers and staff.”

Luckless Blue Jays in last place all season

By contrast to the A's frugal Moneyball system, there remains the unfolding story of the Toronto Blue Jays' effort to buy their way to the World Series with bucket loads of billionaire cash.

Now at 13-23 and holding last place of arguably the toughest division in baseball, the Blue Jays find ways t make baseball look difficult.

The Blue Jays were supposed to come out and dominate their division, but the team hasn't lived up to the astonishing promotional hype. The Blue Jays languish, fully exposed to the greatest folly of the season. 

But the season is young as the buds of spring shed the winter and seasons past.