Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24: What's to say?

"Seismic testing not new in N.B."

That's a "read it while it's hot" front-page story in today's TandT. And it flunks Journalism 101.

1. Nobody has ever said seismic is new. That is not what the demonstrations are about.
2. The story  is entirely based on an interview with one man who has an interest in making sure the testing happens. That's it. And that is not news. That is propaganda.
3.We all know there won't be any fracking unless seismic testing finds enough gas to make it worthwhile.
 The point is WE DON'T WANT SHALE GAS UNTIL WE SEE SOME PRETTY SOLID EVIDENCE IT IS SAFE. We don't have that evidence - and there seems not the slightest chance either the companies or the government will allow us to see any evidence.

If it weren't for shale gas, there would be no point in fracking in the first place. That's why we're trying to stop the whole process right there. We want the TandT to stop lying and to stop telling just one side of the story. In short, we want to see an end to unethical "news" stories like this one on the front page.
The rest of Section A is the usual dullsville. There are two pages, - lord - two MORE pages - of graduations and what speakers said.  You know - "grads are encouraged to give back",
urged to live life to the fullest", "stay connected". (It's so messy to become disconnected.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.. would be so refreshing to hear an honest speech - "Make yourself useful to the rich, become a corporation boss, get richer by ripping off the taxpayers through your buddies in government, and learn how to hide your own money offshore."

"Then a university will give you an honorary doctorate: and the Irving press will call you a philantropist."

There's zip in NewsToday.

Those with a sour sense of humour will enjoy a story at the bottom of the Your Business page. Jim Flaherty, our finance minister and his advisors, have decided there is nothing to this nonsense about overseas bank accounts. Corporate bosses have perfectly good reasons for doing so  - though he doesn't mention any.

He also recognizes that they are piling up record profits while the rest of us are getting poorer. But, you see, "increased cash holdings,,," just reflect ..."...a change in the way that firms operate..."

Oh, well. That clears it all up.

The story does, briefly, mention that the rise in business profits is largely due to corporate tax cuts (which have to be made up by guess who). But that is immediately disputed by an anonymous person who says they are investing at a frantic page. (Funny how that latter part hasn't shown up in our employment or poverty figures.)
After the pages of graduation speeches. we get another one in the editorial. Like most graduation speeches, this one is a real yawner.  The only good line is the last one. It's actually a quotation. But the editorial writer does not bother to show that, not even with quotation marks.

And that reminds me.  Here's a poem I've been working on...

    Should auld acquaintance be forgot
    And never brought to mind,
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot
    And days of auld lang syne..

I might put it to music... let me know if you have any ideas.

Norbert continues his series which has been, essentially, about looking in a mirror and liking what he sees.The only discussion point about this one is whether it's even sillier than the others. Well....
there is one thing he mentions that should be discussed.

He refers again to Professor's Savoie's columns supporting shale gas (and other ventures), and he mentions once again that Professor Savoie is an expert in public policy.  Now, Norbert may not know what a public policy expert is; (in fact, he almost certainly doesn't know.) But Professor Savoie does know.

He knows that in advocating the development of shale gas, he was speaking on issues - like health and environment - on which he is NOT an expert. Being an expert on public policy does NOT make one an expert on everything.  I can believe that Norbert is too thick to understand that. But if I were to say that Professor Savoie does not understand what a public policy scholar is, I would surely be insulting him. Of course, he knows.

He knows that  a public policy planner - even one who is an expert in the field- is not necessarily an expert in line dancing or high jumping, or even changing a flat tire. He is certainly not an expert on health or on the environment. He knows that.

But he wrote newspaper columns using his status as an "expert" to advocate a venture with profound implications for health and the environment. He did so in direct defiance of someone who is, unlike him, an expert in health. He knows that his opinion has been quoted as an expert in a field in which he is not an expert at all.

Scholars, like journalists, are supposed to have ethics. Professor Savoie should never have given advice without making it clear that in some elements of it he was not an expert at all. And as soon as Norbert and others in the Irving press began misusing the word 'expert' in relation to him, he should have made it public what a public policy planner is - and what he is NOT.

But he didn't do it. In that, he joins another UdeMoncton professor who jumped in for big business on the shale gas proposals, not only pronouncing on questions of which he knew nothing, but doing a half-assed job even of that.

Frankly, that gives UdeMoncton one hell of a reputation. Both professors should make public statements clarifying what qualifications they have - and don't have.

Failing that, the university should investigate and take appropriate action. But it won't.

I first saw U de Moncton over forty years ago when I attended a conference there. It was impressive to see what a small and neglected community had accomplished. I was impressed by the commitment of the professors I met. I still remember the wonderful museum of old, Acadian furniture, much of it gathered by (as I remember it) elderly women who did it as a labour of love.

It's sad to see it now, like so much else in the province, corrupted by big business, with professors who dance whenever Their strings are pulled.
Was there anything in this edition worth reading? Yes.

Steve Malloy, once again, takes a commonplace happening that most of us wouldn't even have noticed. And he sees something in it that gives us something to think about. It seems like a small point. In fact, it think it says a lot about the way our world is going.

(For those readers in Canada, the US, Asia, Europe - quite a few, actually - who are sorely deprived of access to the Moncton TandT, it's about the latest Superman movie in which the model of heroism, compassion, and good for the first time deliberately kills a man. He does it by breaking the man's neck.

No big deal? Malloy thinks it is. So do I. It's a powerful illustration of the changes in our sense of morality over the seventy-odd years of Superman's life.

Oh - Superman's alter ego is Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet.  Did you know that makes him a Canadian? And why?


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