Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nov. 17: The editorial is a keeper....

Of all the prime ministers of Canada, Brian Mulroney is the only one to have been publicly humiliated for accepting a huge bribe while prime minister, hiding it from taxes and lying about it to official inquiries. Others have been more discreet and legal - if questionable. For example, it is common for leading politicians who step out of political life to accept directorships, and other high-paying positions in companies which benefited from their days in politics, that sort of thing. They have also been known to build on their political contacts to become lobbyists for private companies.

In some ways, Brian Mulroney followed that same route. He had built his whole life on serving the very rich. In return, the very rich happily contributed to his Conservative party. Free trade, for example, was not Mulroney's idea. I once took the time to study his speeches and writings in the weeks of the election after which he introduced free trade. In that time, he never once even mentioned free trade. But with the election behind him, he suddenly decided it was a great idea.

That's odd because the sort of wealthy people who wanted free trade at the time were the same sort who had opposed it for over a century. They hated free trade. They hated it because they were not big enough to compete with British and American business. For over a hundred years, Canadians paid extra for goods to build the fortunes of our banks, of Canada Packers, of Massey....

But by Mulroney's time they needed free trade. They had expanded as far as they could in Canada. And they were big enough to compete. They needed the US market. So they told Brian to get on his horse, and get NAFTA. And so he did and, I am sure, was well rewarded for it.

Later, while still prime minister, he went way over the line. He accepted a suitcase full of money. No receipts. No records. He hid it. He didn't pay tax on it. He lied about it. And he was still prime minister. But it all caught up with him. - and it was revealed what he had been all his life. If he had been a teenager who had shoplifted a watch, he would have been in court, possibly in jail. But Harper looks after his kind. Nothing happened except national disgrace.

Two days ago, Brian Mulroney spoke in New Brunswick on the importance of having principles. He made no mention of his own behaviour.

Nor did the clown who wrote that editorial about him. Mulroney, who ended his leadership so despised that even lifetime Conservatives avoided him like a plague, is praised in the TandT for the prosperity he brought about by NAFTA and for his high principles. The editorialist didn't mention the jobs free trade cost, the ones that were exported. He didn't mention that we are not, in fact, living in prosperity. And he certainly did not mention that Mulroney was a confessed liar and thief. So this is the man our business leaders invite to teach them about principle. Why am I not surprised?

And this is the man who came down here to tell us that shale gas is good. If there as ever a clearer warning that shale gas corporations are led by people who will rob us blind and poison us at the same time, surely this is it.

Who are these village idiots who write editorials for the Moncton Times and Tribune? And are they really as half-witted as they seem? Or are they just miniature versions of Brian Mulroney?
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The rest of the paper is its usual self. Page one has a stunner of a news flash. The escape artist, Houdini, appeared in Moncton in 1896.  Gee! And we didn't even have an events centre yet. And, apparently, we have another hall of fame, The Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame. And The Moncton Zoo is going to expand - so that's a reason to head the story with a photo of MP Robert Goguen and deputy mayor Merrill Henderson. It does not mention which cage they will be in.
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NewsToday surprised me by having the story of an oil rig that exploded in water just off Louisiana. Gee! Who woula thought such accidents could happen. I mean, we have all them there strict controls.....

Two, odd things to notice about this story.
1. It was written by Times and Transcript Staff.  ????? Does the Tand T have a news office in Louisiana?
That story had to come from somewhere else. So why would TandT staff rewrite it?
2. Well, for a hint, look at the sub-headline "no leak following explosion".
Then look at the last line of the story, A team from the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has been sent down to see if there has been any oil spilling. It has not reported yet.
Hint to TandT staff. You're supposed to tell the news. Not invent it.
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Not a bad story on the testimony of General Petraeus before congress. However, just a hint to the editor who wrote the headline. Petraeus is not a "former" general. Commissioned ranks are held for life. In any case, he did not resign from the army. He resigned from the CIA.

His testimony doesn't get us very far. He admits that he knew from the start that the raid on the embassy was an organized attack, not part of a demonstration about a movie. He said he wrote that in a report to the president, but somebody changed it. He doesn't know who.

Okay, so now the Republicans on the committee will look for a who so that they can paint Obama as the villain. In the meantime, I wonder....  In the months since then, didn't Obama and his CIA chief ever communicate with each other? And didn't Petraeus ever say, "Oh, by the way, about that embassy attack...)
Almost from the start there were very public stories that the movie protest excuse for the attack was not true.  Surely, the President of the United States must hear these things, too.

The testimony of Petraeus hasn't got us very far. It was never likely that it would.
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The report on Israel and Gaza again carries a headline which implies Gaza is the villain. "Hamas aims rocket at Jerusalem". It could as well have said, "Israel drops 500 bombs on impoverished shack camps in Gaza."
But have you noticed it never looks at this from the Gaza side? Nor does it mention that Netanyahu won his last election on the strength of an invasion of Gaza. And he is in another election right now. Coincidence.
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There is a report that Iran could have a nuclear bomb within three months. Big surprise. We have been getting such reports for at least ten years. At no time in those ten years has there been any evidence that Iran IS building a nuclear bomb. But,o-o-o-o. it could. And then we'd be destroyed. I mean, Israel has only 250 nuclear bombs, and the US only 2,000 or so. There's not doubt about it. We have to destroy Iran right now. Kill 'em all.
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In the Whatever section, Jana Giles raises the issue of cramming for exams. Now, here I'm an expert because I've been a failure with averages of twenty percent and lower - and have also done years of straight As. So here's the scoop.
1. Much of preparing for exams is rote learning.- - a fancy word for memorizing. It's the worst way to learn because memorized work is soon forgotten, often within months of the exam. But you need to do it, especially in university because professors usually don't know how to teach - so they use rote learning a great deal.

Now, I'm going to tell  you how to do minimum studying, and get good marks. The principle is that the first time you study, you will remember it only a short time - no matter how many times you go over it. The second day  you study it, you will remember it longer - and so on. So -
1. Always date your notes for each day.
2, Get a set of index cards. At the top of each card write each day's date for the term. You will then have a card for Sept. 6, Sept. 7, etc.
3. On card one, write the name of any course for which you have notes to study. (Remember, you can find them because you have dated your notes for each day.)
4. You will now have a reminder of what you are to study for September 6. Don't cram. Just read it a few times.
5. Now you will repeat that study 3 days later, 10 days after that, and thirty days after the 10th  day. So each time you study something, the next review break will be long.
6. So - when you finish your first school day, you will write on your first index card Sept 6 History, entrepreneurship, health. On your Sept. 9  card you will also write those course names with Sept 6 as the pages you are to review.. On Sept. 16 you will write the same thing, and on Oct. 6.
7. On each day, you pick out the card for the day with its list of what you have to review. The review should not be a long one. We are not cramming. Reading each course's notes for the day should mean reading it three or four times.
8. It takes only fifteen minutes a day to review - but you include Saturdays and sSndays where necessary. And it's usually good to review at the same time each day.
9. For the last ten days, you review all youy notes for the term. You're not sitting up all night cramming them. (That's a sure way to fail). You're just going over them once, maybe twice each day.

Using this system, I never crammed. And I actually used less time to study. And I got straight As. By the end, you could start me on any page of my notes, and I could pretty well recite the rest of my notes for the whole term.

I don't claim this is the best way to learn. But the reality is that you will be judged heavily on rote learning. And, if you have these silly standardized tests that corporations are forcing on the schools, then the importance of rote learning only gets worse.

Does my system of studying work?

I did a BA with cramming. I had an average of less than C, and and average in history even lower, so low they wouldn't give me a major in history. (I got a D- in Canadian History.)
I then did an MA using this system, and got straight As.
Then I got a PhD - in Canadian History.
I think it works.
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This being Saturday, the Times and Transcript gives its usual, casual wave to religion. You'll find it on p. E6. It's a very helpful page if you find that thinking gives you a headache.
The one item that looks interesting is an ad - that Vision United will have its first service (in fact, a regular service plus two features, at 9, 9:40, and 10, plus a children's progamme) tomorrow morning, Nov. 18. And, it will have that service at the Empire Theatre in Trinity shopping centre.
All over the city, I see churches closing, struggling, being torn down. Here's one that seems be showing a remarkable and radical energy.  We should surely have a story on this - (unless, of course, Brent Mazerolle has more front page, readallaboutit news flashes about the breaking story of how Houdini visited Moncton over a century ago.)
















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