Friday, November 23, 2012

Nov. 22: Just for a change of pace...

... listened to a local, private radio station to learn whether it was any better than the Moncton Times and Transcript. For a fair comparison, I chose a station that advertised itself as talk news radio. It's owned by Rogers; and I know the news-talk radio world fairly well since I was two or three times a day on such a station for a dozen years.

I knew what to expect - not much in the way of news since private radio stations have very small newsrooms. And I expected to hear a talk show host who was heavily biased, and way over his head in discussing anything.

The news part began exactly as I expected - a brief burst of over-excited musical bings and ta-ras to convey an artificial sense of a hectic world of fast-breaking news. Then there was an annoying commercial. That was followed by a voice full of importance and authority telling me the sun was shining. Bing ta-ra. Another ad. Then there was a very slightly longer report telling me nothing in particular about a court trial in town. And that was it.

For just a moment I yearned for the deep analysis and thoughtful comment of The Moncton Times and Transcript. I had been told the talk/news station has a news staff of only four. Well, the station I worked at had a news staff of only 2 plus a good editor - and it routinely produced far better newscasts than this station.

It's not too much to say that this newscast was utterly brainless and incompetent. I think if I were to listen to it again, I would find myself looking forward to the ads and dancing to the bing ta-ras.

Then came the host for the afternoon talk show. I listened with trepidation. I know more than a few of these guys, most of them more interested in sounding tough and know-it-all than in the guest. And their guests are often pretty poor stuff.

But I soon brightened. The guest (an environmental prof at Mount A) was well-chosen, and the radio host handled his role very professionally. Good stuff.

As a general rule, CBC is the only station to listen to for news. Private radio doesn't have the staff, either in numbers or professionalism, to do the job. But I'd certainly be willing to give that afternoon talk show host another listen.

I'll have to listen to a few more of the private stations. Any suggestions?
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Today's front page has the usual soap opera reporting of the Prosser trial. But there is also an interesting and important story "Report praises Capitol Theatre". I've always thought the Capitol Theatre an unappreciated gem in this city. But I was astonished to read how profitable it is for us. And it didn't cost us a hundred million. Food for thought, there.
Other wise, Section A has its usual offering of - nothing.
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In NewsToday, federal finance minister Jim Flaherty gives hints of the coming budget - and makes one of the most asinine statements I have ever seen, even from a finance minister.

"I'm not going to raise taxes on business, large or small, that will make it hard for a company to expand at a time when too many Canadians are still looking for a job."

That statement holds true for small business. But for big business, profits have been skyrocketing for decades. They have money. If it were true that making the very rich even richer would cause them to expand and create jobs, then we would now be in the midst of the biggest boom in history.

But it's not true. In Greece, Spain, Britain, France, Italy, the rich have been doing very well, indeed. But everybody else is poorer than ever - and getting poorer. The same is true in the US and in Canada. Big business COULD expand. But, obviously, it hasn't; and there is no reason to believe it is going to. And certainly no reason to believe it's going to do so here.

In any case, we are in a situation in which investment has to be used strategically to get the maximum return for all Canadians out of it. Business doesn't work that way. Only government can. We learned that from the economic experience of two world wars and a depression. In all three cases, looking to big business to handle the problem proved a disaster. Too bad nobody told Mr. Flaherty.

Well, the US elected Obama for president. We elected Mitt Romney for prime minister.

On a related note, the Business page has an article about layaway plans. It mentions, but does not pay nearly enough attention to why layaway plans are coming back. They're coming back because layaway plans thrive in dying economies. But they do little to revive dying economies. Neither do low taxes on big business.

Oh, a year ago, Mr. Flaherty had no trouble in approving thirty million dollars to celebrate 1812 when we were invaded, making Canada perhaps the only country ever to celebrate being invaded. Tell me. How has that expenditure brightened your life? Even the TandT couldn't find much to say about it.
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Page C11 has a page for your scrapbook. A whole page of smiling people giving oversized cheques to other, smiling people.
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The editorial is the usual huffing and puffing about keeping labour costs down. I'll start to take those editorials seriously if I ever see one criticizing the government for giving Mr. Irving too much money.
Norbert has read another book. So he's now an authority on the subject.
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Again, three, solid columnists on the editorial and op ed pages make the paper worth the price. I'll let you guess who the three are. One of them opens with what sounds like a Jewish joke, but isn't.

Jewish society is rich in jokes, and has produced large numbers of outstanding comics. Much of Jewish humour is based on self-deprecation and religion: and the style of delivery, I've learned, is often heavily based on the preaching styles of rabbis. For an example of such style, check out Jack Benny on Youtube. His pauses and blank looks are common in synagogue preaching.

I lived much of my life in Jewish circles so, as I read the title of Lynda McGibbon's column, I was tempted to finish with a Jewish joke.

But then I realized some self-righteous Christian would be sure to call me an anti-semite.
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