Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nov. 22: Sorry I'm late.

It is really too bad that we  have not seen EastEnergy ads since Thursday. They are really quite wonderful examples of how to lie to people, and manipulate them. Hitler's Dr. Goebbels would have loved them.

Notice the simplicity of them, and the use of solid blocks of colour - especially blue. Without us being conscious of it, that makes us think of clean skies. Notice, too, that the ads tell us only that TransCanada Pipelines, really, really cares about the environment. But they never say exactly what it is they care about. There's a reason for that. If the ad tells us what the concerns are, that will start us thinking about the problems of a pipeline. And they don't want us to think.

One ad featured a picture of quite attractive young woman telling us she was "passionate" about the environment. It said she was the senior officer of TransCanada  in dealing with environmental issues. That raises some interesting questions.

1. Why would they have a senior officer for that purpose? Doesn't the government set regulations? Doesn't the company simply have to obey them? After all, it's our environment. It's not the property of TransCanada. Shouldn't they simply be following environmental rules set down by a government responsible to us? This is rather as if TransCanada had its own police to deal with speeders, murders, etc.

2. A person who sets guidelines for something like a pipeline needs advanced study to understand what the problems and cures are.  That would certainly mean a Ph.D. in the field as well of many years of experience in research and field work. That takes a lot of of time. But this woman hasn't been on this earth for anything like all the time that sort of experience would take.

3. And she spends much of her time speaking to community groups. Oh? In the business, that's what's called a "flack". Her real job - the really  real one  - is to sell people on the pipeline.

4. The closing words of the ads are something like "The more you think about it, the more sense it makes."  But the ad gives you nothing to think about. Of course not. It's not there to make us think. It's there to show us those big blocks of colour, and an attractive woman saying she's passionate about the environment - z-z-z-z-z-z-

TransCanada is paying the big bucks to the world's biggest PR company to put us to sleep.

Oh, let's assume at all that oil that comes down that pipeline is as pure as the driven snow, and has strict orders not to leak. Well, then it will be refined and sold - somewhere. And what will happen them? Well, then it will be burned and send up the carbon dioxide to create the climate change that is already killing people and animals - including 40% of what used to be our polar bear population.

But I guess what's-her-name is too passionate about pipelines to care about that.
Friday, Nov. 21 - the front page headline is "Premier reaches out to business".  Yep, he wants the advice and help of business in running the province. Brian, baby, we elected you. God knows many of us regret that. But we did it. That's called democracy. We did not elect business. And we really don't need such a special interest group getting its nose into the government trough.
Alec Bruce has a superb column on the plight of children in general, and in New Brunswick in particular. We have abysmally cared for children in most of this country. Harper's latest gesture  (in time for the election campaign) is to give  money for early childhood education.. The problem is that most of it will go to the people well enough off so their children already get all the special attention that they need. As a result, their children get educations that compensate for any low IQs the kids might have, and excellent food and medical care so they can grow up healthy, inherit daddy's money, and look down on the rest of us slobs of the lower classes.

Norbert has a really thoughtful column on the trials of meeting the needs of dying relatives. He takes time to thank the hospitals for their sympathy and cooperation. But I'm less enthusiastic about it than I should be because this is the newspaper and the man that insulting ignored the warnings about fracking that came from our Chief Medical Officer.

Justin Ryan has his usual column about immigrants in this province. So far, it's been disappointing because he says so little about them. What problems do they face? After all, New Brunswick, like all of Canada, has a long history of racism. Are there any signs of that left? What kind of work do they find here? What is the school experience for their children?

In Montreal, for example, African and Chinese Canadians could have a very hard time until very recently to find a district they were allowed to live in. African Canadians could get jobs as entertainers in White nightclubs. But they weren't allowed to be customers in them until well into the 1960s. Nor could they get decent jobs anywhere else.

Across Canada, workers of "colour" (and that includes African-Canadians, orientals, and native peoples) still get paid far less than whites in the same job. It's worst in private business. But it happens in public service, too.

An African friend of mine was both very bright and a superb hockey player. But, because he was black, no Canadian university would give him a hockey scholarship - and his parents couldn't help. So he got a hockey scholarship at Princeton, got a law degree, and became an outstanding lawyer. (Until the 1960s, at least, almost all Canadian universities either refused "students of colour" or demanded higher grades for them to get in.

One of my university students, Dorothy Williams, wrote a book "The Road to Now" about growing up black in Montreal. It's an interesting look about a part of our history we seldom hear about.

I'd like to see a column on minorities that has more meat in it.

NewsToday has an excellent story on the problem of mental illness in the RCMP. It's from The Daily Gleaner, and seems to be second in a series. It's a real eye-opener on the stresses police have to cope with. It's also a good example of what a news story should look like.

There's another story about the heavy snowfall in Buffalo, NY.  Like most of the others, it makes no mention of climate change. Let's see, now. It's the heaviest snowfall in recorded American history. It began on a day when every state in the US, including Hawaii,  hit 0 degrees or lower. It happened in a period in which we have have experienced an unusual number of  odd and destructive weather events - including the loss of most of the Arctic ice shield.

Ah! Coincidence. Besides, we're safe, knowing that our oil pipeline is watched by a woman who is passionate about the environment.

B4 has an important story "Vets want answers for lapsed funds". They are victims of a stunt Harper is pulling with several departments - cutting them short of funds so that he can pretend he has balanced the budget. You know what veterans are. These are the people that just a couple of weeks ago Harper said we owe so much to.

Another story to watch as it develops is on B5  "Mounties arrest pipeline protesters". These are people in Burnaby, BC who were peacefully protesting a pipeline that threatens not only the immediate area, but a large part of the waters of our west coast.

Mounties were reluctant to move in, but eventually had to when the company got a court order demanding the arrests. This, like Energy East, is another big move to get money out of Alberta's oil sands. The catch? The export of oil is a long term project. It's not something for ten years or even twenty years. It means we our oil companies intend to be putting oil on the market far, far past the point of no return for climate changes that will, almost certainly, kill many millions (or more) of people and impoverish any who might survive.

Obviously, the oil companies don't give a damn. There's money to be made, and they're determined to make it. They have the law (and most politicians) on their side. They are determined to use whatever force is necessary to get what they want. The result, inevitably, will be violence. I certainly don't advocate the violence. But it's going to happen. Violence just naturally happens when you combine unlimited greed and self-worship with remarkable arrogance and stupidity.

No, the big violence will not start in New Brunswick. This, after all, is the province so inert that it voted for Mr. Gallant -while also giving strong support to Alward.

B5 has two, big stories - sort of.  One is about the tensions in  Israel where Palestinian Israelis attacked a synagogue, killing five people. What they don't tell us is how the Israel government made things worse. According to most newspapers, the government demolished the home of an attacker who was killed at the synagogue. That's not quite true.

The "home" was, in fact, a five storey building which housed many Palestinian families. Israeli police forced all of the families in the building out, forbidding to take any belongings with them. Then they demolished the whole building. In other words, all the people in that building were punished simply because they were Palestinian-Israelis.  Heil Hitler!

In the other story, Kerry is in a crucial stage of negotiations that have been going on for years to stop Iran from making nuclear weapons. In fact, and as American intelligence revealed at the time, Iran dropped research into nuclear weapons years BEFORE these negotiations began. The only state that has illegal nuclear weapons in that region is Israel. But we won't mention that.

So what are the negotiations really about? The US has been mad at Iran ever since the US destroyed Iranian democracy back about 1950, and set up a brutal dictator in place of democracy. It wanted control of  Iranian oil. And, under the surface, that's really what Kerry is negotiating for.

But why should be oil companies care for the oil when they know that burning even more oil will be so destructive? They don't care - because they're too greedy, too arrogant, and too stupid to care.

The Nov. 22 newspaper has a front page story "Are dress codes an issue in Metro Moncton schools?' It's too bad the story is so shallowly done. The fact is that all schools in this world (with the possible exception of those in nudist colonies) have dress codes. One of the major responsibilities of a school is to teach students how to dress as an adult and a worker. It become particularly necessary when parents don't seem to care.

It's also important in the classroom, itself. The classroom is a place for concentration on learning. And you aren't going to get much concentration or learning in a school that has no standards for dress and behaviour. A boy whose main concern is getting his pants to hang down far enough so we can have the thrill of seeing his underwear, or a girl whose main concern is getting her breasts to flop or a naked leg to stick across the aisle isn't going to learn much or help others to learn much.

Nor, I should think, should we want our schools to produce graduates who think it's cool to look like sloppy louts. That's not going to help them a whole lot when they go out to the real world.

How people dress has a tremendous impact on how they learn. Accepting sloppy dress and sloppy behaviour is a major factor in creating sloppy thinking, and sloppy standards about everything else in life.

The story has a quotation from an educator who says there is no dress problem in the school. I  have been to many school many times where many girls are dressed like hookers - the ones who work low income districts. I have seen some going to school on cold, winter days with bare legs and super-short shorts. The boys often look sloppy and loutish. I can't imagine an employer would be eager to hire any of them. I can't imagine that students who dress like that have much interest in school as a place to learn.

It's a subject that deserves attention with interviews with people who know what they're talking about. But there isn't much of that in this news story.
Bill Belliveau has an excellent column on how Harper is short-changing veterans and low-income parents - and pretending that he's doing it to be good to them.

Norbert has a first-rate column, continuing his experience of being with a relative dying the the hospital. He doesn't offer solutions to the concerns it raises - and he doesn't pretend to. But it's a well-written attempt to get us to think about the problems that exist so that we can begin to look for solutions.

Section B, NewsToday, is pretty much a dead loss. The oddest page is B7, the Faith page. The section listing churches, where they are, and the time of services, has only 4 churches listed. Obviously, one must have to pay to get a church listed. That's odd, coming from the newspaper's owners who are noted philanthropists, and so religious that they even have their own chapel (with special music). They actually give more attention to new pizza restaurants than they do to churches.
As usual, I enjoyed the columns written by students. C14 and 15. Some are very knowledgeable about things worth being knowledgeable about, some are perceptive, and some remind me of the things that interested me when I was their age - back around the fall of the Roman Empire.
Okay. This is late, and it's way too long. And, again, I still have a whole page of notes of important stories that didn't make the Irving press.  I think I might do a shorter blog tomorrow (Sunday) on those.


  1. "Nor, I should think, should we want our schools to produce graduates who think it's cool to look like sloppy louts."

    I never did want to look like a 'sloppy lout'. While a student, I bought my clothes at thrift shops and my food at discount grocery stores. It was not a matter of choice, it was a matter of survival.

  2. I'm not swapping poor stories. If I were, I could tell you what it's like to have no money to shop even at thrift shops or at discount grocery stores. Nor do I see what that has to do with pulling your pants low enough so the world can see the label on your underwear.

    I wasn't talking about dressing expensively. Few of the girls who shop for super low necklines and super tight jeans shop at thrift shops.

    There is no need for dress codes to be expensive. Up to grade nine, I was a pupil in schools that were very working class, and worse because it was hard times. There were no food discount stores. Commonly, I just didn't eat unless, occasionally, I got lucky and won the draw for the free milk for our class.

    My clothes were often (usually) hand-me-downs. I shall never forget the oversized, tuxedo-formal style winter coat with huge moth holes in it that was the only winter clothing I had through high school. I'm not talking about cost. There is no need for a dress code to cost more. Indeed, it's commonly the sloppy or oversexed look that is more expensive.

  3. I think you are a little bit hard on the voters of N.B. Here is a thought. Despite all the government propaganda about saying yes to shale gas, despite the relentless self-promotion of the oil and gas industry and despite all the economic woes and job loses in the province, the Liberals won the election because most of us voted to reject shale gas.
    Take note too at the outcry and anger In Amherst, N.S. over the council's ill-advised and uninformed decision to tentatively approve a plan to accept and dispose of fracking wastewater. I think there is more intelligence and awareness in general and maybe a little less of the village mentality that you so love to criticize.
    Also, in July Concerned Health Professionals of N.Y. released a report, "Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction." Finally, a study reviewing all the previous scientific predictions and anecdotal stories now bolstered with peer-reviewed studies, accident reports and investigative articles. Quite a read.

  4. I very much hope that you're right. But I don't have a whole lot of faith in Gallant. I have rarely seen a politician of so little substance. New Brunswick desperately needs big, big changes. I see no sign of the fundamental ones even being discussed.