Friday, October 11, 2013

Oct. 11: The cowboy singer and the Irving press...

Damn, damn, damn. I have finished a whole blog - and accidentally deleted it. Damn.

OK. Here goes again. But I'm not happy.

The tradition of the the singing cowboy came to us in the early days of "talkies" with singing cowboy stars like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. But it's not just a piece of Hollywood hokum.

Back in the days when herds of cattle had to walk to market, driven by cowboys who kept them moving and on track, night was a dangerous time.  That's when the cattle, stopped in unfamiliar territory, were easily spooked, even by imaginary sounds. When that happened, the whole herd might stampede giving cowboys a hard day and more to get them back together. And quite possibly with many of them lost forever.

That's why, at nightfall, cowboys sang to the animals. Oh, nothing fancy, no yodelling, not even anything like a tune - just a drone with any old words at all. The whole idea was to be so boring as the keep the  animals calm. So the song would be something like "Git along, little dogies, git along, git along" - and so on for an hour more at a time. That point was not to entertain them, but to bore them out of their minds.

The Irving press uses the same tactic for us, the critters that it's driving to market. Today's edition is almost pure "git along, little dogies, git along, git along."

Section A will send you into a stupor in no time at all. The lead story is about a pedophile. Okay, it is a story.  But we know all we need to know just from the headline - while the story goes on and on for over two pages, about a third of all the news space in the section.

The other big, big story is "New Flight connects Moncton and St. John's". This is one over a page with a total of five pictures, none of which tells us anything, and one of which (a pictures of a lighthouse in Newfoundland) really has nothing to do with the story. Teally, this full page effort that fills over a page has one a couple of sentences of useful information.

" Git along, little dogies..."

Then you're ready for the big snooze, "Maritime Greyhound Adoption celebrates tenth year".

The only story worth reading is on page one, "Resolve shale gas dispute, RCMP." It's an interview with the assistant commissioner of the RCMP discussing the talks between Alward and the protestors at Rexton.

The story isn't worth reading for anything it says - because it really doesn't say anything. It's interesting because the assistant commissioner had no business in talking to the press about what he thought of the talks. How the talks are conducted is none of his business at all.

In fairness, the commissioner did not quite say what the headline claims - and the editor should have caught that. But the commissioner is a civil servant. His job is to enforce the law when he is told to. It is not to pronounce on how the premier is handling things.

Skippedy-doo on to NewsToday. There is not a word here that you  could not have read yesterday on Google News - for free. Nothing Zilch, Nada. Worse, the story on chemical weapons in Syria adds nothing to what we've known for a week or more.  "Git along, little dogies."  Wow! They sure are keeping us little dogies spaced out.

And they could easily have done something more useful. They could have put a reporter on a computer for just a half hour to get information that would help us to understand the whole story.
For example:

1. The world's largest user and biggest killer with chemical weapons is the United States. It has killed, at a minimum, many hundreds of thousands with everything from agent orange to white phosphorus to depleted uranium.

2. The hundreds of thousands of killed (almost all of them civilians) counts just those killed at the time of use. But the effects of those chemicals last, some for decades, some for centuries. Babies by the uncounted huncreds of thousands are still being born with horrible defects like organs that hang outside the body, missing eyes, ears, mouth, no arms or legs. Many are stillborn. None live very long. Those are the agent orange victims. They, alone, number over a million. And there are uncounted thousands more we don't know of because they are born at  home, and simply disposed of.

In Iraq, the big killer has been deleted uranium which has produced world record rates of cancer in babies and adults, as well as producing a high rate of still  borns. Nobody can even guess at the number.
But all we get is the message from The Canadian Press "Git along, little dogies..."

3. The US has many times promised to reduced its stockpile of such weapons, and has set itself deadlines. It has never met a single deadline or destroyed anything.

4. Canada used a chemical weapon, white phosphorous, in Afghanistan. It didn't use much. But it used it, though such use is forbiddn under Geneva conventions that we signed.

5. Into recent history one of the world's largest development and testing facilities for chemical weapons was in Alberta.

6. Israel has stockpiles of chemical weapons.

7. The US gave chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein when that dictator invaded Iran. And he used it.

8. Our foreign minister, Baird, was featured in the TandT when he condemned the use of chemical weapons by Syria. In fact, and though the TandT has ignored it, there is no evidence that Syria has used chemical weapons. There is ome evidence it was used by the"rebels" - who are NOT the Syrian government and, for the most part, are NOT even Syrians.

Mr. Baird said he was outraged. I wonder whether he is at all annoyed at the US for using chemical weapons on millions.

Either Mr. Baird is a fool or he is a lying hypocrite. I'm open to discussion of both points. But whatever the choice, the fac remains that the TandT has not made the slightest effort to gather information that is easily available.

So NewsToday is mostly "git along, little dogies..."

The editorial, a deep-thinking one for a TandT editorial writer, is about the need to fix up a wharf to attract tourists. On balance, I'd prefer to read another chorus of "Git along, little dogies.."

Alec Bruce is solid. Norbert has a useful column on the question of "combat sports" as a commercial sport.  Cole Hobson has a (much) less useful one. I  had a pretty close exposure to the fighting world since my uncle was a commissioner of amateur boxing, and coached at least two Olympic boxing teams.

Boxing, alone, is bad enough for the long term damage it causes. But at least there is some skill in boxing. But the farce of  "combat sports" has no such excuse for existing. Essentially, you get your opponent down on the canvas, then punch his head into it until he suffers a concussion. The chances of damage are even greater than in boxing.

This is a sport for the kind of people who just like to see somebody get pounded. There used to be quite a few people like that in ancient Rome..  On balance, I'd rather watch columnists being thrown to the lions.


Today's light touch is an (accidentally)  amusing letter. Someone had written a letter saying that 20 to 40% of water left in the ground by fracking eventually rises to the surface to form pools of highly toxic waste.

The reply is in today as "Shaky facts in anti-has letter". In reference to the danger of toxic water rising to form toxic pools rising to the surface,  the response says, "The regulations adopted by the government of the province would forbid this."

Damn right, baby. Any of that water rises to the top, and we'll send the RCMP to club it back down.

Nope. You can't escape it. Most of today's edition is designed to keep us cattle dozey, and not to think about anything at all.

"Git along, little dogies, git along, git a..."




  2. Is this a cowboy song?

  3. But not just sleepy music, worse...

    > New Flight connects Moncton and St. John's". This is one over a page with a total of five pictures...

    And a very old story. We covered this in Moncton Free Press two weeks ago. It was based on a press release.

    > Then you're ready for the big snooze, "Maritime Greyhound Adoption celebrates tenth year".

    Also a very old story. It came out about a week ago. The story - and press release - were about the arrival of the greyhounds. Moncton Free Press covered it in time. T&T missed that, so went only with the 10th anniversary.

    What should be observed is:
    - a *ton* of T&T coverage is based on rewriting press releases
    - but they don't publish news when it happens - everything is written ahead of time and canned
    - the same is true of city council coverage, which except for one Tuesday story is spread out over an entire week

    So basically: the newspaper is written almost completely ahead of time.