Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20: Well....

...I am still not using my own computer. Things were looking up as Bell installed the connection after only three weeks. But they did it wrong - and who can tell when they'll get it right? I have to call them again and again and listen to recorded voices saying "for instttkkent, press one"  And when I do that I get another recorded voice. It was faster when we communicated with smoke signals.

For pure gush, read today's lead story. It's all about how the whole world is watching Moncton. Well, the surfers are. So that's close enough. And this PHENOMENON will be marked in a coming issue of theWORLD-RENOWNED SURFING MAGAZINE - The Surfer's Journal. You've heard of it, of course. Everybody in China and Pakistan and Congo reads it, just everybody. It's the MOST PRESTIGIOUS AND RESPECTED (SURFING) JOURNAL IN THE WORLD.

It goes on and on with this pre-adolescent gush for a full half page.

Look, if you have tell people a journal is famous, then it's not. If it were, they'd know it without being told. and to say it's world-renowned? Hey, take a deep breath and cool it. An editor should have cleaned this up, cut it by two-thirds and then, puh-lease, should have put it in a trivia section, not at the top of the front page.

Yesterday, one of the paper's columnists bragged about how may journalism students have got their first, practical experience at the Irving press. So they have. And that may explain why there are so many bad journalists in this world.

Then there's a big story about local people who dress up in their idea of how cowboys dressed up a century and more ago. Then they shoot the guns that, according to movies, the old cowboys used. Whoo-ee. Some people really know how to have fun.

Actually, this is neither cowboy nor Canadian. This is pure Hollywood. The American cowboy clothing and words like riata were borrowed from the Mexicans who taught Americans how to be cowboys. The quick draw and the duel on Main St. never existed until the early movies. Anybody who got killed most likely got shot in the back, and often by a mentally disturbed moron like Billy the Kid.
A large number of cowboys, incidentally, were African-Americans. Of course. A cowboy was cheap labour, bottom of the ladder, and Texas had a long history of racism and slavery.

Why on earth is grown up people dressing as what they thought cowboys looked like to shoot old guns a front-page news story?

None of the Hollywood versions of cowboying existed in Canada until the early days of the Calgary Stampede. (Well, there was a fascinating guy from England who became a gambler in BC, then a general in the Chinese army of Sun Yat-Sen, imprisoned by the Japanese during World War Two, then settled in Montreal where he became brother-in-law to a journalist I knew.) His name was Two-Gun Cohen. Now, that's a story.

Then there's a big story on A5. A private clinic offering pain-killing guarantees you a cure or your money back. What the hell is this doing here? This isn't a news story. This is an ad. And a pretty trivial one at that.

And that sums up a Section A that's as trivial as they get.
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There are only two items in NewsToday worth reading. One is a slightly overripe story that a Toronto police officer has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of a teen-ager. I thought it rather strange at the time that it should have taken nine shots to stop a kid at very short range. Six of the shots were fired after he was down. He was also tasered.

This is bizarre. He was alone in a stopped streetcar. He had a knife. There was no way out. Nine shots at close range and a taser with six of the shots coming after he was down suggest either very, very bad training on the Toronto force - or an officer emotionally unsuited to the job.

Norbert won't comment on this until after the trial. That's because the court will almost certainly acquit the officer as it always has in such cases - and then Norbert can use that to prove he was right.
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There is a stunning story on C4. Our provincial government is in the last stages of a sixteen million dollar project to beautify the grounds of the legislative buildings. Over the last nine years, it has been spending an average of 1.6 million each year.

We live in a province that has cut funding for family services. We have a very large population that depends on food banks that are running out of food. We have one hell of a need for spending on social projects. And they've spent sixteen million of our tax money to make the grass look nice? A government with any brains would have kept that a secret.
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The editorial is yet another pitch for the incredibly distinguished prof Lapierre, and for going ahead on tracking. You've read it all before. Many times.

The editorial is quite right, though, about the limp fish response of the Liberals. I've never seen a new party leader make so little impact. I've rarely seen a party that seems to stand for nothing whatever. Of course, they're in a spot.

If they oppose shale gas, they won't get any nice money to run an election campaign. And the Liberal leader could kiss goodbye any dreams he had of being PM, kissing up to the big boys and then becoming a multimillionaire like another former premier.

But if he supports fracking, he could lose the election. It's so hard to stand for something when you really don't stand for anything at all.

The Liberals in power would be exactly the same as the Conservatives in power. We all know that. The trick is to try to look different. But Irving and friends won't allow that this time. They're determined to go ahead. No matter what.
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Norbert's column is quite a decent one - but strange. He argues, among other things, for a rejuvenation of our railway system. Very reasonable. But he does so on the argument that this would reduce the use of fossil fuels and, therefore, reduce the catastrophe of climate change.

Norbert, isn't your paper the one that frequently pooh-poohs climate change? And hasn't it and you consistently demanded fuller use of fossil fuels? Did you clear this column with Mr. Irving?

Still, it's a good column.

Alan Cochrane has nothing in particular to say. I guess that's why he's an editor.

Louise Gilbert (Seniority Rules) writes a simple and sentimental column on the Petitcodiac River and the tidal bore. And that simplicity and sentimentality is quite irresistable.
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And now back to life with Bell-Aliant that takes three weeks and more to install a connection.
'Press one for French" - "entrez deux pour anglais". "If you are waiting for service, first listen to a half hour of beautiful music by the Bell Orchestra humming on combs covered with tissue paper."

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