1. Council recap
Not enough happened at yesterday’s council meeting to merit a full article, but here are the highlights:
➡ Council agreed to let a 50-year-old Sea King helicopter buzz Grand Parade when tens of thousands of people are assembled for Remembrance Day ceremonies. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
➡ Brad Johns got a majority of his fellow councillors to reject a staff recommendation to not buy a couple of parcels of land that are necessary to build a future Lucasville-Glen Arbour connector road. The city will spend something like $60,000 for the land, but the road won’t be built anytime soon, if ever.
➡ A new sidewalk cafe ordinance will be approved soon. I seem to be the only one to object to the provision that will allow some cafes to operate through the winter. To its credit, the provincial government has tightened building codes to increase insulation requirements, and general awareness of climate change has increased, but here we are purposefully setting up hundreds of patio heaters to burn untold fossil fuels in completely un-insulated outdoor spaces.
Setting up sidewalk cafes in the winter is an environmental crime. As I wrote back in 2007:
Patio heaters are so bad environmentally that the Energy Saving Trust, a British environmental group, has urged a consumer boycott of pubs and cafes that use them. “Patio heaters are an obviously wasteful appliance in that their job is essentially to heat the open air,” reads a Trust press release issued last week. “And they waste shocking amounts of energy doing something that could just as easily be achieved by a rather simpler, completely free and totally carbon-neutral alternative: putting a jumper on!”
The Trust goes on to suggest that people “consider using only pubs and bars that don’t use patio heaters.”
➡ Council is asking the province to amend the city charter so that council can pass its own regulations with regard to campaign finances.
➡ Councillors increased funding to the Fringe Festival from $8,750 to $20,000.
➡ Mayor Mike Savage got councillors to agree to write letters to federal and provincial governments urging them to do whatever is possible to assist Syrian refugees, and to get a staff report on what the city can do in that regard.
➡ In its in-camera session, councillors had the opportunity to discuss the job performance of CAO Richard Butts. No action was taken.
The provincial government is reminding people that they can still comment on the “Segway pilot project,” which ends in January:
Government introduced the project in 2014 to test and evaluate Segway use on streets and sidewalks, and determine if they are safe to use in the province’s transportation system.
Here’s my comment: get off my damn lawn!
Segways might be useful in some very specific instances — for mail carriers in the suburbs, or minimum wage slaves in Amazon warehouses — but the way they’re being used locally is nonsensical. You can walk the length of the boardwalk in maybe 20 minutes, less time than it takes to rent and return the Segways that are cluttering up the place. And the entire point of walking the boardwalk is to enjoy the subtle interplay of sea and land, stopping to catch a view of the Georges Island lighthouse from an interesting angle, and taking a moment just to get away from the frickin’ rat race already; none of which is possible when the damn Segway-wielding teenagers buzz by, or for that matter from atop the things either.
And whoever thought that allowing the machines in Point Pleasant Park was a good idea? We’re already dodging runners, mountain bikers, and Sue Uteck’s dog, but at least those threats visit the park under their own power. It’s as if someone said, “hey, let’s allow motocross races in the park; no need to separate the bikers from walkers, people can just jump out of the way!”
Segways are a perfect example of technology being foisted upon the public simply because it exists, and not to solve any actual problem in the world. Use Segways in the few places they make sense to use, but get them out of our parks.
If you’d like to comment on Segways, email [email protected]
3. Geezer round-up
Business owners in Sydney were concerned about an increase in street prostitution in the commercial district, so the police set up a sting operation, sending undercover female police officers out over a week-long period, and rounding up all wannabe johns. “Police said other specialized investigative tools and techniques were also used,” reports the Cape Breton Post.
The oldest of the 27 arrested men is 81 years old, and the average age is just shy of 60.
4. Wild Kingdom
“A mako shark named Carl has settled in around Sable Island, N.S., and its movements are being charted online in real time,” reports the CBC:
A group of scientists tagged the two-metre long mako shark on July 18. In mid-August, Carl swam north into Nova Scotia waters, even coming close to the shore near Taylors Head.
The shark appears to have settled near Sable Island, at least for now.
According to Carl’s OCEARCH bio, she is a female shark that weighs about 68 kilograms and travels about 56 kilometres every 72 hours.
Mauricio Cantor, a grad student working with Hal Whitehead, Dal’s resident whale guy, has been studying the sperm whale culture off the Galapagos Islands:
His paper, published this week in Nature Communications, details findings that suggest culture—generally viewed as distinctly human—is also at play among these marine giants.
“Culture in animal societies is a highly debated topic,” says Cantor, originally from Curitiba, Brazil. “Some experts think it’s clear enough, while others don’t think the word ‘culture’ should be used describing anything but humans.”
Cantor’s study examined two clans of sperm whales, observed in the Pacific since the 80’s, that share the same geographic area. Despite living in the same neighbourhood, Cantor’s work shows that each clan of whales developed their own “dialects” composed of patterns of clicking sounds called codas.
“It’s quite rare,” says Cantor, explaining that two clans of the same species sharing an area don’t typically develop unique communication signals. But this kind of segregation is evident in human populations and, broadly speaking, comes as a result of cultural evolution. With that in mind, Cantor set out to find evidence that culture isn’t just a feature of human life.
I’ve heard Whitehead lecture on the language of the whales. It is so complex that we humans can’t understand it. One day, I hope to report on that in more depth.
“Apparently ‘scribbler’ is not a term that is used everywhere,” writes Stephen Archibald. “Maybe it is Canadian or even more regional?”
Well, this CFA never heard the term before this morning, so I think he’s right. Where I come from, not only did we not have the word, we didn’t even have the object. We encountered demonic clowns and lasso-weilding cowgirls with guileful eyes all on our own, usually while perusing magazines secreted in Jimmy Parcel’s garage; such mysteries certainly weren’t introduced to us through school notebooks.
2. Graham Downey
The Chronicle Herald remembers Graham Downey:
He was a tenacious, hardworking fighter for racial equality, decent and affordable housing, the welfare of seniors and the revitalization of the inner city neighbourhood where he lived his life and served his community so well.
He was ahead of his time in pressing for the revitalization of Barrington and Gottingen streets, laying the groundwork for the revival of the North End as the small business hub it is becoming today. He challenged city agencies to deal with people fairly and humanely — whether it was affordable rents in public housing, “treating seniors right” in housing and home care programs or ensuring fire service jobs were truly open to racial minorities.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Graham Downey and his brother Billy also operated the legendary Arrows Club on Agricola and later Brunswick streets. The Arrows knocked down the segregationist social barriers that had shut blacks out of existing clubs. It brought white and black audiences together to hear an exhilarating new mix of local and internationally known acts, from The Hands to Time, to Lots a Papa to The Bluenotes and Ike and Tina Turner.
3. Forming a government
The ever-informative Kady O’Malley has written a short primer on how a government is formed after an election in Canada, explaining that:
No, the party that wins the most seats does not automatically get to form government.
No, not even if Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau — two of the party leaders currently competing for the privilege of doing so — claim otherwise.
4. Cranky letter of the day
Re: the serviceman who resigned as a Conservative candidate after being caught on camera peeing into a cup; now that we know the CBC has sting operations in people’s homes and set up people for their nefarious reasons, I suggest that we have the RCMP confiscate all the tapes from all their operations so we can see what people do in all their voyeuristic majesty.
After all, we are paying for them. They must have some juicy ones from watching their own staff when they go to the bathroom. How about the tapes of Jian Ghomeshi? There must be some around for the upcoming trial.
At least it makes us all look around when we go to the bathroom anywhere now. That fly on the wall could actually be a camera.
I am disgusted with CBC. It is ruining people’s lives.
Betty Morgan, Port Williams
Community Design Advisory Committee (11:30am, George Dixon Centre, Multipurpose Room) — the committee will be updated on the status of the Centre Plan.
Tracking plows — the city has issued a tender looking for a company to install GPS on 40 plow trucks, 14 sidewalk plows and 10-15 Supervisor vehicles for this coming winter. The winning company must be able to create a web interface, viewable on computer screens, and potentially via a cell phone app. The tender offer is not clear as to whether the general public will be able to track the plows on their own computers and devices.
No public meetings.
No public events. Or at least not any that I’ve been told about. I’m not sure why, but while each of the local universities has huge communications departments, none of them have managed to collect all open-to-the-public events from each of the departments and put them on one easy-to-find webpage, so I’m stuck digging through at the college and department level to find events to post here. They should pay me for this.
“An investigation into a Second World War tragedy off the coast of Nova Scotia has revealed that the deaths of hundreds of U.S. sailors was not only covered up, but used as fodder to feed Canada’s propaganda machine,” writes Rob Gordon for the National Post. “Now, more than seven decades later, the truth about what happened that night off Sable Island can be revealed and the record of the sailors’ sacrifice set straight.”:
USS Ingraham was a nimble Gleaves-class destroyer that was barely a year old. The 105 metre-long warship carried deck guns and dozens of depth charges … steel barrels, packed with explosives and primed to go off near submerged submarines.
The Ingraham was nosing through dense fog off Sable Island when a message went through the convoy that a German submarine had been spotted. A U.S. Navy board of inquiry report released after the war states that the escorts’ sonar systems, a kind of underwater radar, had probably picked up a school of dolphins. But on this night Sable’s legendary cotton-ball fog disguised the truth from the fleet.
Instantly, the 11 destroyers started to dart back and forth between the fog-shrouded troops ships and supply vessels in a desperate search for a submarine; sailors aboard the Ingraham armed and unlocked the depth charges, readying them to dump on a U-boat.
The sky was pitch-black and made even darker by the fog when [Canadian troops ship] Awatea’s bow rammed into USS Buck’s stern. Seven sailors were trapped in the destroyer and died almost instantly. The night’s carnage had only just begun. Less than five minutes later, the supply ship USS Chemung T-boned the Ingraham.
USS Ingraham was split in half and sunk almost immediately. Hundreds of sailors were trapped inside the ship or flung into the cold Canadian water. As the destroyer’s camouflaged, grey hull slipped bellow the surface the armed depth charges exploded, churning the sea into a bloody killing zone. Only 11 sailors of Ingraham’s crew of more than 300 survived the ordeal.
Gordon goes on to explain how an accident was turned into a German U-Boat attack for propaganda purposes.
In the harbour
The cruise ship Seabourn Quest is in port today. One of the smaller cruise ships that visits Halifax, the ship holds just 450 passengers.
A quick trip to the Archives this morning, then I’ll publish a freelancer-written article on…. Peter Kelly.