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Trump’s Housing Secretary Ben Carson says poverty is a state of mind

Ben Carson, the new Secretary of HUD, is a perfect fit with the rest of the Trump administration.

People working to end poverty and increase affordable housing in the United States were further dismayed last week by Ben Carson, the inexperienced new U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), when he expressed his belief that poverty is simply a state of mind in an interview released by Sirius XM radio on Wednesday (May 24):

“You take somebody who has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there.”

Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and failed candidate to be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, who also believes that the Great Pyramid was the ancient Egyptian equivalent of a Prairie grain elevator, did not elaborate where “up there” was—whether it was “up the creek”, or “up to no good” but he did go on to add:

“And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way back down to the bottom.”

Like any good fallacy, there is a grain of truth in what the new federal point man in charge of combatting poverty, homelessness and lack of affordable housing in the U.S. says. People do need to try hard on their own behalf—to overcome circumstances and to at least meet opportunity half way, as it were.

Thinking that the world owes you a living doesn’t make it so.

However, an individual’s mindset only goes so far.

Mindset does not, by itself, create equality of opportunity for all; it will not put food in a homeless child’s belly or clothes on their back; it will not overcome all physical obstacles to advancement. And certainly the mindset of a renter or a job hunter is not enough to make a bigoted landlord or employer blind to a person’s skin colour.

A mindset could be compared to a skill-set, which needs the proper environment and tools to be effectively and successfully exercised. And in the absence of any sustained awareness on the part of the private sector as to the importance of social equality, it has largely fallen to governments to try and legislate the social environment wherein the largest number of citizens have, from the youngest age, an equal opportunity to the tools of success, including education, nutrition, employment and housing.

However, when Ben Carson uses the phrase “right mindset”, I do not think that he just means a willingness to work hard or a generally positive and proactive attitude, I’m certain that he means a belief in the Christian God. Read more…

Bugs—we know them when we see them, right?

Like most beetles faced with a camera, this one stands its ground.

I overslept a good hour and a half on Monday (Victoria Day), so when shafts of morning sunlight finally found their way into my parkade sleeping spot at 8 a.m. I was still there. And standing beside my sleeping bag, I waited patiently until one long finger of dusty light just managed to touch the tips of my scruffy Doc Martins.

As I waited, I also followed the slow progress of a tiny black dot as it slowly crossed the concrete expanse of the parkade, moving more or less perpendicular to the light.

On close examination the dot appeared to be a basic sort of very small beetle. At least it looked to me like a beetle. It had a hard body and wing cases of iridescent green, plus pincer-like mandibles and six translucent chitinous limbs which glowed orange in the strong backlight.

As with most beetle-like insects, this one did not flee the proximity of my camera. It stood perfectly still while I photographed it from very close up using my WG-3’s 1 cm focus mode.

I expect that unlike some other insects which are quick to flee danger, lumbering beetles may be hardwired to stand and trust their heavy armour for defence. Either that or they recognize a special kinship with my tough little, armoured Pentax WG-3 camera.

It’s really unfortunate that I cannot identify the exact kind of beetle that I saw Monday morning—I always try but I’m certainly no entomologist. And given how confusing and contrary the naming and defining of animals can be (taxonomy), It’s entirely possibly that I’m assuming too much to even say that it was a beetle. Read more…

They grow up so quickly don’t they?

Overhead view of the colourful birthday announcement written in chalk on the pavement of Tupper Street.

There was word on the street yesterday (May 19) of an important birthday in the Cambie Village area. Which is to say that news of the milestone was actually written on the pavement of Tupper Street between 21st and 22nd Avenue, in huge pink, green and blue letters for all to see:

“Henry is 2”.

Obviously we have to chalk up this written announcement to the proud parents, I think, rather than to Henry himself. After all, it’s unlikely that a tyke just entering the terrible twos would either be so literate or have such legible penmanship.

Personally, I would’ve just eaten the chalk when I was that age.

Oops! This was supposed to be all about celebrating this sweet little kid’s birthday and there I go again, making it all about me. My bad. Sorry everyone. Sorry Henry. Click the image to enlarge it.

Twenty-six more photographs of Alder Street

My blog is already littered with countless still photos of the downtown Vancouver skyline as seen from one rather sweet spot on Alder Street, located on the north side of West Broadway Avenue.

Some of these photos show the sunrise reflecting off the downtown skyscrapers first thing in the morning; others capture the lights of the skyline after the sun goes down and some photos even contrive to show dawn and dusk together.

But until now, none of these photos has moved.

The above YouTube video is a little 26-frame time-lapse I threw together of the view downtown, looking north from Alder Street and West Broadway Avenue. The photos were taken with my 16 megapixel Pentax WG-3 point-and-shoot camera, sans tripod, from May 5, 2017 to May 16, 2017, between the hours of about 7 a.m. and 12 midnight. I’ve padded the sequence with fading steps to buffer the choppiness caused by the lack of a tripod.

I began taking the photos with no particular plan and I stopped when I had the bare minimum number needed for a sequence because, frankly, I was tired of matching them together.

It didn’t help that I began taking the photographs with seven steps of zoom—a zoom setting which the WG-3 would not perfectly match photo-to-photo. This necessitated a lot more scaling and tedious playing around than I anticipated.

For this time-lapse, I did all of the image manipulation, scaling, frame dissolves and titling as sequentially numbered layers in the open source image editing program GIMP. I used the “” plug-in to export the finished layers to individual JPEG images with 92 percent compression.

I then imported the JPEG images into Windows Movie Maker, which, up until January, 2017, was free to download from Microsoft as part of the Windows Essentials bundle. In Movie Maker I gave each image frame a duration of 0.13 seconds and saved the entirety to an MP4 video file for High Definition Display.

In the future I’ll try a long-duration time-lapse with no zoom and, if not with a tripod, at least with a methodology, for example—taking one un-zoomed photo from the same spot every day at 4 p.m. and letting nature change the lighting over the course of a year.

And I think I’ll add the titling in the video editor, rather than in GIMP and maybe even throw in some music. Nothing’s too good for my audience!

The messy aftermath of a close election

The front of the Elections B.C. district electoral office for the riding of Vancouver-Quilchena, located in the Vancouver-Fairview riding.

The 41st British Columbia general election, held two days ago on May 9th, was a very close thing. Only the B.C. NDP’s razor-thin, nine-vote victory in the Vancouver Island riding of Courtenay-Comox  stands in the way of the incumbent B.C. Liberals forming their fifth straight majority government and  the Liberals have formally requested a recount of the Courtenay-Comox vote.

A party needs 44 seats in the B.C. Legislature to hold a majority. For the time being, the B.C. Liberals are one shy; having been elected to 43 seats, while the B.C. NDP hold 41 seats and the B.C. Green Party holds down 3 seats.

The absolute final results of the B.C. election will have to wait for the Courtenay-Comox recount as well, potentially, as the counting of absentee ballots—a process which Elections B.C. plans to complete by May 24. Read more…

May the 4th was with us all right!

The beautiful view looking north from Alder St. and West Broadway Ave. at 7:47 a.m.

Thursday May the 4th in Vancouver certainly hasn’t been as warm as a typical day on the planet of Ryloth but it’s been spectacularly summery for our specific time and location, out here in the “uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy”, as at least one of the guidebooks would have it.

Strange thing to find on the street and a strange thing to lose there. The morning sun shines on a lost and found sign in the 100 block of West Broadway.

The day turned out to be mostly sunny and with temperatures over 20° Celsius, as was forecast earlier in the week. Predictably, Fairview residents could be heard toward the afternoon complaining about the heat—the same residents who will likely pine for the snows of December come July.

Just before 8 a.m. the charmingly mismatched awnings of the 1400 block of West Broadway are ready to shelter the coming waves of pedestrians.

It’s still warm now at 6 p.m. but steel-grey clouds are piling up in the eastern sky, so we may even get the thunderstorm predicted by forecasters (though I’m mot holding my breath).

Oh, in case anyone cane to read this modest little post expecting something related to Star Wars I’m sorry to disappoint. The last time there was anything like that in this blog was a long time ago in post far, far away—on March 5, 2015 to be specific. Click the images to enlarge them.

Late addition taken mid-afternoon and looking north from the south seawall.