Steal your watch and tell you what time it is

Calgary Police bought some new helicopters and they are the loudest things in the known universe. The old ones oppressed minorities in near silence. Now every time they fly over my house at night my eardrums burst like a Roman candle, spraying sparks and viscera across my bedroom like a pig-borne Pollack. I scream but the helicopter has already harvested my trachea, fuel for it’s antimatter-decibel powered ultraturbines. They float past, my parts a cell in a spreadsheet, another night protecting the people, trachea levels high. This really happens.

A couple of stories arched my eyebrows not for their content, but because I couldn’t game out the desired result.

Coronavirus has revealed a lot about our life and country but maybe the most stark realization is that provinces were probably a bad idea, borne of a huge land mass and the limited speed of horses sending messages, and that trusting provincial governments to be rational actors in a crisis is idealistic baby-talk talk for little babies who believe baby stories. As such the simplest of the federal COVID support programs - cash to top up salaries for health care workers, long-term care aides, the obvious friction points on the plague ship rigging in need of some lucre lubricante - was left more or less to collect dust, unfathomable millions sitting useless like a genital wart.

For a politician who spent his life looking any excuse to impoverish nurses you’d think he’s find some win-win way to cover salaries with federal money, pay the people he needs to make sure his voting base doesn’t fill the morgues, and he gets to sacrifice whatever animal he has on hand to the Balanced Budget God with a clear conscience. But they didn’t. They just left the money on the table. The official line was too much red tape, a matching 25% from the province, and a bunch of other bullshit. Those might even be the case, but they seem like hurdles that could be cleared by a determined party.

It wasn’t until some language used by Pam Palmater over at Canadian Dimension, writing that “Jason Kenney is tanking Alberta”. I think they meant it in the traditional sense, like their incompetence is sending the province into the toilet, leading to the septic tank, where it can swim with shit. But I think the totality of UCP management is better explained by the sporting connotation to tank.

For the unenthused, fairness dictates some system to collect the best players out of college and high school sports leagues and assign them to professional teams. But you can’t just let the best teams add the best new players and extend their dominance and maintain competition. If you let people just stack their teams to heaven you become boring or, even worse, you become professional soccer. So the teams that perform worse get a better chance at the top amateur players in a draft, to each according to their need, from each according to their crapulence. Tanking is a tactic most prevalent in games like American football and basketball, games where single play choices or personnel changes can mean the difference between championships and the basement.

When you tank, you intentionally throw a season away to draft better players. The best tanking coaches are the most highly paid theatre actors on the planet, tasked with convincing both a fan public and a group of young men bigger and stronger than them that they are trying their best and are, in fact, not tanking at all, how dare you. Like flopping it exists in a paradox - if you don’t flop or tank and take a hit to your honour as a competitor because you didn’t do absolutely everything in your power to win glory, but if you do flop or tank, you are a chump punk loser butthead. Like so many things masculine in origin it’s deeply complex and stupid.

But tanking Alberta isn’t for Albertans. There is no draft at the end where we collect engineers and thinkers to better the place we live. At the end all we have is rust and desperation and anger. At least the Jets get to fuck up and get Sam Darnold, or the Colts shrewedly “Suck For Luck”. For Albertans there is no youth coming to save us, give us hope. Jason isn’t preparing a roster for glory, he’s preparing a corpse for the tower, a Zoroastrian feast for vultures, beleaguered, poor, sick, and ready to take any indignity for some measure of economic dignity. It’s an old play from an old playbook, but how often can you see some significant salve through a locked window, the key in the sweaty palm of a single drape-skinned Catholic man grinning and screaming, no, no, no, it’s my choice and I don’t want it and you don’t get it, no.

🍄The rumour was that Alberta gyms and personal trainers were going to break shut down rules in a weird athleisure collective action so Jason Kenney blinked and put them to the front of the line to open, despite ultra-infective variants of COVID waiting to carouse through the province like the bulls in Pamplona. Never thought I would see sitting premier get sand kicked in his face by jocks as they take his girl to Pop Tate’s for an egg cream but here we are.

🦂Even Australians get more honesty out of your provincial government than you, because they’re merely a conduit for people to make money. The Trillbillies were on about the subtle increase in coal mining jobs in Kentucky on an episode last week. They talked about one guy who was buying dead mines for pennies and all the sudden started hiring in the Trump years. The price of coal hadn’t moved very much - burning rocks has plateaued in a fairly permanent way - but with a combination of “appeal to Appalachia” tax breaks and an ocean of liquidity turning anything with a pulse and a revenue into a potential short-term bubble a la Tesla, this post-coal Kentucky coal man was making money somehow. Just not off the rocks. People joke that Alberta strip mining is a lot of toxins in the watershed for just a few jobs but I think it might be deeper than that.

Goodbye, sailor.

🥪Canada is like Silver Surfer on a sassy day, back talking Galactus and seeing if they gets vaporized and/or eaten. Canada is sassy often.

🏈If you die with tenure your ghost will lecture on into eternity.

🛰Andrew Cuomo is like any other shithead fucking up a COVID response but the difference is that when people ask him to improve he just tells them to shove it and people applaud and laugh and give him treats.

🧱Trinidad and Tobago are sinking into the ocean and pulling more than their weight in making it happen, like a matador painting himself red and standing stock-still.

🌀It seems portentous that a labour uprising is being dealt with in the same way as trying to annex Kashmir or trying to do a coup in Myanmar.

🔊Jeff Bezos is out as CEO but Amazon is still using metrics and optimization algorithms and plain old labour abuses to damn near kill employees.

🦏Indigo stores in Canada are unionizing quickly, probably a symptom of being a store that contains books describing how to unionize. A new CEO is on the way via Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters so we’ll see how they try and stomp on them.

🌪Critical support for Justin as he tries to get some vaccine manufacturing capacity back for the next shitty pandemic we deal with. Mulroney sold off our capacity back when he was doing bumps of coke out off of Thatcher’s perfectly smooth hair helmet. I wish his response was more bellicose but when someone has a vaccine shipment gun to your head I guess you just buy factories for next time and buy vaccines meant for poor people.

🍈Pandemic frequency is a good barometer of social upheaval.

🥜Our own Roberta Lexier explains why the NDP should put up or shut up.

📉Alberta Advantage rounded out the first bit of 2021 talking about missed opportunities and teeth.

🎧Will was on The Canada Files to talk about Canadian politics too.

🔇And Elaine was on Big Shiny Takes to talk about white supremacists and (shudder) Derek Fildebrandt.

🎚️Congratulations to Kino Lefter on 100 episodes!

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Our editor is Clinton Hallahan. Newsletter subject lines are stolen from these songs.