Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13: bring a mop....

This is late because I'm still using a borrowed computer. I may miss a couple of days to the 18th  to splash between the sandbars. Not sure.

Why the mop?  You'll need it for the front page story from Brent Mazerolle. He really wets his pants over how UdeM professor LaPierre will be speaking at the "prestigious" US science academy.Professor Lapierre "admits" he is "honoured" to be the "only non-American" invited to the conference.

Go change your pants, Brent.

1. When Dr. Cleary won a national award for her warnings about shale gas, your lying newspaper didn't even mention it.
2. The word "prestigious" doesn't belong in a newspaper. It's an opinion, not a fact.
3. He is the only "non-American" at the conference because it isn't a full conference. It's a workshop. Attendance will, in fact, be quite small.
4. It is the "storied NAS". Hell, Brent, I was in the academic world for some forty years. I never heard a single story about it.
5, For 150 years, it has been providing "independent, objective advice"? Well, if it has, it's the only such group I have ever heard of. Again, I lived with these people. Academics are not particularly independent or objective. And I would be particularly surprised if such a small group was chosen for its objectivity. Like anything else in American government (as in New Brunswick), such groups can be bought - especially if the numbers are kept down.
6. There will be - geegollywhiz - geologists, biologists, public policyists and   political scientists, and others.  Well, gee, Brent, if you have 29 people at this thing and if they represent so many fields, then there must be one hell of thin representation of experts in any field.
7. Mazerolle keeps emphasizing the independence of academics. It that like the independence of Professor Savoie who made public statements on subjects he knows nothing about? Does it include Professor LaPierre who played obvious games to please the shale gas industry in this province?
Is it like the independence of the "prestigious" university presidents of NB who all turned out, and quite improperly so, when Mr. Irving snapped his fingers to tell them they were on his committee to plan the financial future of NB.
8. Professor LaPierre closes with the old line that this sort of meeting is "peer review", and therefore demanding of the truth.
Academics often live in their own world of arrogance, snobbery, pretence, and a hunger for recognition. Peer review is not at all a guarantee of truth. Too often , it is a play for personal fame, for competing egos, for whatever is in style. Not their fault. Academics are not machines. They are people. And they behave remarkably like people.

This is a dreadfully ass-kissing news story, especially coming in a paper that completely ignored Dr. Cleary's award. Any journalist who had anything to do with it should be ashamed.

NewsToday is, as usual, mostly trivia. Someday, it would be nice if they would do a serious story on how the middle east became such a mess. It's a substantial story involving Britain, France, Spain and then, especially after 1945, the US. And perhaps the best starting point for it would be a much over-praised British officer of World War One who became known as "Lawrence of Arabia". There's a movie about him, starring Peter O'Toole. Don't believe a word of it.

The horror of the middle east is entirely of our creation.
Gwynne Dyer is good.

Alan Chochrane's column reminds me of bubble gum.

Alec Bruce's column goes on and on about the Olympics and human rights. In fact, the games have nothing to do with rights of any sort, or any "Olympic ideals" of any sort.

They were begun as sports events for the upper class. That's why, originally, professional athletes were excluded. Anyone who had to accept money in order to play was a lower sort, and not a gentleman. The games were only for the better sort. The idea was that this would produce an upper class better able to lead society - the rather silly theory  being that playing games produces leadership skills.

From their start, the Olympic movement was controlled by a small number of very, very wealthy people.  It exists to make huge profits for them - and they don't give a damn about human rights. That's why Avery Brundage, long the most important figure in the movement, viciously opposed professionals in the Olympics but had no problem with Hitler.

Alec, try this. The US ignores human rights on a massive scale. It invades countries illegally , largely to steal their resources. It kills people by the million. It spies on the whole world, including its own people. Its president has the power to jail and even kill people without charge or trial. And it practices torture on on a huge scale all over the world.

Or this. Canada has dishonoured its pledges to its native peoples. It has placed them under a regime that encourages hopelessness and poverty. It has a prime minister who has recently circulated a political flyer that was openly racist in its treatment of native peoples.

Would you, therefore, join a campaign to ensure than neither Canada nor the US gets an Olympic games in future?

Or is being anti-anti-gay just the flavour of the month?

Norbert gets tough, and asks questions about the tragedy of the two boys in Campbellton who died. And questions should be asked.   But...

Where the hell are the questions about the 47 were were killed in Lac Megantic?

1. Who changed the regulations to permit a lone engineer on that train?
2. Who asked for the change?
3. Who approved it?
4. According the news reports, the rails between Montreal and Campbellton are so bad, the engineer had orders to slow down and be especially careful at some 29 locations. Doesn't that raise questions about rail safety in general? Doesn't it cast doubt on Alward's statement that our rails are in prefect shape?
5. Why did the regulations permit the carriage of crude oil in carriers that were unsafe for it?
6. Why did   Irving Oil use a railway with such a bad safety record as the MMandA rwy?
7. I have no doubt Irving Oil was within the law. That's because people with big money get to have a pretty big influence on what laws are passed. Pet shop owners don't get that same respect from governments.

Irving Oil must have known all the above. It must have know all the risks. It must have been aware of the failings of the MMandA. The two businesses were, after all, closely related. It went ahead anyway with a lone engineer, improper tanker cars, bad track, and a railway with a bad record.  
And forty-seven people died.

Have you any courage or integrity at all, Norbert?

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