Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24: some newspapers are funnier than others....

The National Post, which seems to have some relationship with the Irving Press, has a columnist named Conrad Black, the Conrad Black who is now doing time for thievery; (nothing vulgar like break and entry. Strictly high class thievery). 

I knew him slightly many years ago when we were both commentators at the same radio station. He had a curious habit when talking to anyone. He would close his eyes tightly. He still does it; and reporters have said he does it to concentrate. Not true.

He closes his eyes because when he is talking to you, you don't exist. Only he exists. Only his words have any meaning. He is listening, with pleasure, to himself. Conrad Black has the most towering arrogance and ego I haver ever encountered. His column in today's The National Post is about the Pope's visit to Cuba. Conrad is very concerned about the moral land religious implications of this visit.

So, from  his prison cell, Conrad has written his column as a letter to the Pope, advising the Pope to bear in mind the religious and moral principles involved.

I didn't know he could write with his eyes closed.

Back home, the TandT's big push is still for an elected Senate, with another and, blessedly, final rerport on it. There's also an editorial. And, of course, a cartoon that supports the official line.
It shows two dogs labelled house of commons, and the other unelected senate. One is big and tough. The other is just small and cutesy. Beside them is another picture of two dogs, but both big and tough. They are called house of commons and elected senate.

Too bad the cartoonists knows more about dogs than about government. Unlike two dogs, the house of commons and the senate are really one creature - the government of Canada. The government of Canada has a defined and limited supply of power. If you give more power to the Senate, you can get it only by taking it away from the House of Commons.

We have a government with power in the hands of those we elected. Why on earth would anyone elect a new group to do the same job?  At a time when we closing down environmental research, perhaps fisheries research, grants to social agencies, government services to save money, wouldn't it make more sense just to scrap the senate?

What game is being played here?

Three closely related causes are also argued in today's paper - the troubles at Codiac Transpo in Riverview, the events centre (with the hockey rink as a charity offering to an Irving), and city council's futuristic plan for 88 parking spaces on Main St.

The TandT and the city council are pushing hard for an "events" centre which, we are assured, will change the whole nature of downtown, and make it a vibrant centre of cultural, intellectual and gastronomic life.

Assuming that to be true (a wild assumption if ever there was one), what is the key to this whole project?


Cars? Well, the big thinking there is 88 new parking spaces on Main, so it better be a pretty small events centre.  Lots of big parking lots? Yeah, Downtown would be a real joy stuffed with parking lots. And the cars would, presumably, need the roads to get in and out of the parking lots.

The first step in reviving a downtown is to make it easy and cheap and convenient to get there.  Codiac Transpo isn't any of those things. And it never will be any of those things until our city council develops a plan for the future which solves the mass transportation problem. (Experimenting with 88 parking spaces is not a great start on that plan.)

In short, to even talk about an events centre of any sort is pure idiocy until you have a plan to get people to it. This is another sample of the basic planning for the future that city council has not done.

Take a look at Royal Oaks. What did they build first - the houses? Or the roads?

Good column on the Senate by Bill Beliveau who, as always, did his homework. I often disagree with him. But he always takes the trouble to study something before he talks about it. And there's a column by Gwynn Dyer that should scare you. It's blunt. It's hard-nosed. And it makes sense.

All the student articles in Whatever are worth a read. I was struck by Christina Korotkov's "So why do people settle for less?" I would love to discuss this - but it would take far too long for this blog. Briefly, people are told what their possibilities (and their limitations) are by the environment they  grow up in. Rich kids go to universities and move into high-paying jobs not because they are smarter than poor kids, but because they grow up in a setting in which that is the normal thing to do.

Ditto for those kids who drop out of school, and spend their lives in low-paying jobs. They usually aren't dumb or lazy. We are shaped by the environment we live in. Some people, especially rich ones, believe this is all part of God's great the words of an old hymn...

The rich man in h is castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly.

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