I’ve been fascinated by the proposal to launch rockets from Canso. A spaceport is of the ilk of flashy megaprojects that through the decades have been sold to Nova Scotians as the route out of their economic malaise and into riches, but which oh so often have just dragged the province further into debt and worse.
To its credit, however, besides the use of crown land, so far as I know Maritime Launch Services hasn’t asked the provincial government or ACOA for public money or financing. And the company is run by people who actually do have some expertise in launching rockets. So there’s that. But the Nova Scotia spaceport proposal is still in the “luring investors” stage, so I’m not holding my breath for it to become a reality.
But what if it actually comes to fruition? I wanted to know more about all things rocket-related, so I asked reporter Jennifer Henderson to look into the environmental and safety issues related to the proposal. Henderson went off for a couple of weeks and learned all about the space industry, rocket fuel, and associated international intrigue, and then came back with a truly informative article. I learned a lot from it.
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2. Pacification by cappuccino
Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler interviews Vikas Mehta, who asks: Who benefits from the New Urbanism, and more importantly, who doesn’t?
Mehta references the idea of “pacification by cappuccino” a term coined by sociologist Sharon Zukin, an intense critic of gentrification. “The idea that everybody is happy drinking coffee and drinking beer in the evening and that’s it. And that’s the end of our street life,“ says Mehta. “We might be losing something even though we are coming back to convert streets to places where essentially people can hang out.”
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3. Matt Whitman
Halifax council voted yesterday to kick councillor Matt Whitman off all subcommittees for three months. That’s punishment for being stupid:
Council has not revealed details of the complaints it reviewed, but Whitman has come under fire recently after retweeting a letter from a white nationalist group. He subsequently deleted the tweet and blocked the group.
Whitman was also criticized for using the word Negro during a television interview about marijuana in October.
Complaints were also levied against councillors Waye Mason and Shawn Cleary. Mason, who called out Whitman — “what the hell is wrong with you?” — for retweeting the white nationalists, issued an apology at the meeting:
The following apologies were accepted by Council today and complaints against me dismissed. The dashes are where the HRM Privacy Office has redacted the apology to protect the identity of the complainant.
Apology 1 –
While I admit I have at times let my strong feelings about this issue influence the way I have expressed my disagreement, my sincere intention is not to speak against Councillor Whitman as a person or a colleague but to stand in absolute defiance of racism in all of its forms.
It is my opinion that some of Councillor Whitman’s statements and positions could easily be interpreted as racist, and could represent the ideas that I am seeking to root out and oppose. In a democratic society we are free to challenge and even decry each others ideas and actions without it categorically being an attack on the individual themselves.
Apology 2 –
I apologize for any lack of clarity in my tweet that made it come across as an attack on —————– . My intention was not to attack ———– but to appeal to ————- clear convictions in challenging him to stop insulting people.
While I stand by the core message of my response I admit that the tone was unnecessarily harsh. I apologize for that and restate my sincere willingness to meet with ———— to discuss these issues further.
The complaint or complaints against Cleary were dismissed.
As for Whitman, Zane Woodford reports for Metro:
“This is the first time we’ve taken action like this, which is to sanction a councillor and take him away from committees,” Mayor Mike Savage told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting.
“That’s really all the power that we have.”
Whitman is no stranger to the complaint process, and said before the in camera debate that he wouldn’t apologize if council directed him to.
“I’ve apologized too many times in the past for things that perhaps I wish I hadn’t, looking back,” he told reporters before the in camera debate.
“I’ve had all kinds of complaints and accusations. Every time I wear a sombrero, or dress up for St. Patrick’s Day or say, ‘Polish sausage,’ it’s a complaint.”
Whitman declined to comment to reporters after council’s vote.
The sombrero reference is to when he dressed up as “Mexican Matt” for Halloween, except he wasn’t wearing a sombrero:
4. Macdonald Bridge bikeway
The city this morning issued a tender offer for “Project Management Services to Implement the MacDonald (sic) Bridge Bikeway Connectors Project.” I don’t know that it’s a good sign that the name of the bridge is misspelled (small d, not capital) or that the tender offer isn’t publicly available, but I guess hiring a project manager brings the bikeway one step closer to reality.
5. Lunenburg and the Ivany Report
CBC reporter Emma Smith interviews Kelly-Sue O’Connor, who moved to Lunenburg to open a business, The Good Ship Children’s Boutique, but who is now leaving town “because she can’t find a suitable place to live”:
When O’Connor, her husband and young son moved to Lunenburg, they ended up in a short-term, winter rental. When that lease ended, O’Connor said the prospects weren’t much better.
So she started messaging people who were selling their homes to see if they’d consider taking them off the market.
“I say I struck gold with this landlord because he was willing to take the house off the market for us for two years,” O’Connor said.
That lease is up in May, and O’Connor said despite spending six months searching for homes in Lunenburg and surrounding communities, all were either too expensive or too run down.
The issue, said O’Connor, is that there simply aren’t enough options. The rentals that do exist are snatched up by homeowners who rent them out on sites like Airbnb, she said.
In its 2016 needs assessment, the South Shore Housing Action Coalition identified the lack of rental units as a major problem, especially in Lunenburg and Mahone Bay.
Nancy Green, a member of the coalition, said while the growth of Airbnb is “great from an economic perspective, it pushes people out of secure and stable housing for the remainder of the year.”
There’s a lot there. Are O’Connor’s expectations too high? The article doesn’t get into specifics about the cost of housing she’s looking for, but I’ve heard many people echo her complaints: unless you’re in a position to actually buy property, you’re in for rough time of it in Lunenburg.
It was another sentence in Smith’s article that confused me:
For people in Lunenburg County who are taking Ray Ivany’s Now or Never warning seriously, affordable housing is throwing a wrench into plans to grow the population.
Wait, what? What does “taking Ray Ivany’s Now or Never warning seriously” mean? Other than “clap louder and don’t dissent,” is there actually a solid, meaningful takeaway from the Ivany Report? I’ve read the thing six or seven times, and for the life of me I can’t get past the buzzwords and cheerleading. To be sure, there are specific future targets in the report, but there aren’t any defined strategies for reaching those targets.
As a result, anything and everything can be said to be inspired by the Ivany Report. Someone opens a business: Ivany Report! The Liberals kill the film tax credit: Ivany Report! The Glaze recommendations: Ivany Report! I cut my toenails this morning: Ivany Report!
But, at least so far as the CBC reads it, Lunenburg’s take on the Ivany Report resulted in meaningful action. The link in that sentence is to a CBC Calgary article about the Lunenburg business group Now Lunenburg County, which sent a trailer around the country trying to convince people to up and move to Lunenburg to open up businesses:
With beautiful beaches, ocean views and being the home port for the iconic Bluenose II, Lunenburg County has a lot going for it. You can even buy an acre of beach front property for $250,000.
What it doesn’t have is young people.
Tina Hennigar, tour lead and co-ordinator with Now Lunenburg County, is trying to change that by convincing 150 entrepreneurial young people to move to Lunenburg. She’s spreading the message with a coast-to-coast tour in a 1960s-era Boler trailer.
I guess O’Connor bit.
But if you go around advertising acre-sized beach front lots for $250,000, lots of business-inclined people are going to do back-of-envelope calculations and realize they can buy up those lots and pay the mortgage with Airbnb income. And if we’re going to encourage open-ended “entrepreneurship,” lots of local property owners are going to do the same thing. Airbnb is “great from an economic perspective,” said Nancy Green, and how can anyone be against the economic perspective, eh?
This is the pickle we’ve gotten ourselves into. When the highest good is entrepreneurship, and when everything on dog’s green earth — including housing, including people — is seen as a commodity to be bought, sold, and financed, then we’ve lost all sense of ourselves, our communities, and our values.
Just as Airbnb reduces housing to interchangeable daily rental income, O’Connor is reduced to a pawn in an economic transaction. She isn’t a young mom with realistic expectations of raising a family in relative peace; she’s a commodity, a simple economic peg, an entrepreneur! to be brought to town not because she has value in and of herself, but merely because she filled a column on a ledger, one of “150 entrepreneurial young people.”
Or she can’t adequately fill that ledger column, in which case she has to flee town.
Now or never, indeed.
6. Jetsetting McNeil
“The premier of one of Canada’s smallest provinces racked up the most international travel in 2017 — spending more than one month outside of Canada on government trips,” reports Marieke Walsh for Global:
A Global News analysis has found Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil spent 19 more days abroad than any other premier in Canada.
He spent 43 days outside of the country in 2017, including taxpayer-funded work trips to Washington, D.C., the United Kingdom, China, Japan, New York City, France and Boston.
7. Gabrielle Horne
“A court has dramatically reduced a cardiology researcher’s record-setting, $1.4 million judgment for damages from a workplace battle at a Halifax hospital,” reports the Canadian Press:
In a decision released Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal reduced Dr. Gabrielle Horne’s damages to $800,000.
It said the lower figure better represents the “loss of reputation and loss to her research career” after a personality conflict torpedoed her heart research.
Examiner contributor Stephen Kimber has been following the Horne case in great detail.
8. Acquittal in HIV case
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal published a decision vacating the conviction of a man named Claude Thompson on two counts of aggravated sexual assault involving two separate complainants:
The Crown alleged that the appellant [Thompson] failed to disclose his HIV-positive status to the complainants, and they would not have consented to sexual intercourse had they known. One complainant admitted that a condom was used, the other insisted one was not. Neither contracted HIV.
The trial judge was Suzanne Hood, who
found that the Crown had not established a realistic possibility of HIV transmission. She therefore acquitted the appellant [Thompson] on the two counts of aggravated sexual assault. The Crown did not appeal the acquittals.
However, the trial judge accepted Crown counsel’s submission that the complainants had suffered psychological harm caused by the uncertainty in not knowing whether the virus had been transmitted. She found the appellant guilty of the lesser and included offences of sexual assault causing bodily harm.
Hood sentenced Thompson to 30 months in jail. He immediately appealed, and a group of HIV support organizations — The Coalition of the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO), The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and the Coalition des Organismes Communautaires Québécois Contre le SIDA (COCQ-SIDA) — filed as intervenors on Thompson’s behalf:
Intervenors support the appellant’s complaint of legal error and fear the potential implications of the trial judge’s ruling on people living with HIV.
A week before the scheduled appeals hearing, the Crown agreed that Hood had erred in her ruling, and agreed that Thompson’s convictions should be quashed. The appeal judges then “took the unusual step of issuing an order on September 19, 2017 quashing the convictions and entering acquittals on all charges.”
The judges’ reasoning was as follows:
Failure by a sexual partner to disclose that he or she has a sexually transmitted disease is morally reprehensible, but it is not usually a crime. Most STDs can be cured with appropriate treatment or do not constitute a serious health threat. Given the potential endangerment of life, the law struggled with an adequate response to the risks posed by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
If the sexual contact transmitted HIV, the accused faced charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault. But convictions for aggravated assault were impossible to obtain because consent to the sexual activity was not vitiated by traditional legal theory.
The ruling gets into the details of Thompson’s viral load, and in essence finds that there was no realistic chance that he could have transmitted HIV to either complainant. At issue, then, was the emotional distress caused:
With respect, the trial judge was led astray by Crown counsel (not Mr. O’Leary), who advocated that the emotional turmoil suffered by the complainants could amount to bodily harm and thereby vitiate their consent to the sexual activity.
One complainant testified about her reaction on hearing from the police about the appellant’s HIV-positive status. She said she was “kind of shocked” and scared… This complainant described going for a STD test, which included HIV. The test was negative. After that, she felt safe…
The second complainant, on hearing the news, felt like she was going to pass out. She immediately made a medical appointment and had HIV blood tests at one month, three and six months. All were negative, but she said it was stressful as family members worked at the hospital where her blood requisitions went. She also said she had a fear of the unknown.
Neither complainant sought or received any psychological or psychiatric counselling. There was no evidence either missed work or other activities. No expert evidence was tendered to demonstrate psychological harm.
The Crown led no evidence in its case in chief about psychological harm having been caused to the complainants.
Thompson’s convictions were quashed.
Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, City Hall) — all things Centre Plan.
Accessibility Framework Session (Wednesday, 2pm and 6pm, Sackville Sports Stadium) — tip the janitors.
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — there’s nothing on the agenda.
FCM 2018 Conference Advisory Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — the committee is actually debating menu items at the Gala Dinner.
Accessibility Framework Session (Thursday, 2pm and 6pm, Alderney Gate Public Library) — info here.
Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — the park is getting an app.
Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — St. Luke’s Anglican Church is moving forward with Bryony House to build a a three-storey building on its property for use as an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing intimate partner violence
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — questions about the redevelopment of the QEII.
Legislature sits (1–5:30pm, Province House)
No public meetings scheduled as yet, but I’m thinking they’ll schedule another legislative day tomorrow.
Classical Saxophone Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Chris Mitchell will perform.
Beyond the Ramp (Wednesday, 12:45pm, Room HB4, Medjuck Architectural Building) — Ron Wickman, of Ron Wickman Architect, Edmonton, will talk about designing for accessibility.
Canadian Foundation for Newfangling— (Wednesday, 1:30pm, Room 3-H1, Tupper Building) — buzzwords galore. No need to get a good union job when you newfangle yourself into your own company, which will probably go bankrupt, but that’s on you.
Black Mothers in Hospitals (Wednesday, 6pm, Room 150, Collaborative Health Education Building) — a panel will discuss “Experiences of Black Mothers in Hospitals – Past, Present, and Future.”
Engaging Patients and Families in Research: What Are You Waiting For? (Thursday, 10am, Cineplex OE Smith Theatre, IWK Children’s Building) — a panel consisting of Erna Snelgrove-Clarke, Janet Curran, Rebecca Mackay, Paul Hong, Anthony Otley, Margot Latimer, John R. Sylliboy, and Jill Chorney.
French Mélodie Masterclass (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — pianist Julien LeBlanc will perform.
Protocols and Algorithms for Mobile Cloud and Distributed Systems (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 127, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Qiang Ye from the University of Prince Edward Island will speak. His abstract:
Cloud and Distributed Systems have been widely deployed as the infrastructure for many important applications. However, authentication and scalability remain to be two challenging problems in these systems. In this presentation, a light-weight authentication protocol for end-to-end security in mobile cloud computing, Message Digest and Location based Authentication (MDLA), is first discussed. The novelty of MDLA lies in the fact that it is capable of providing secure authentication for mobile clouds while involving only low-complexity computation. Technically, both the up-to-date time and location of mobile cloud clients are used in MDLA to enable effective authentication. Our experimental results indicate that MDLA can prevent most of the potential attacks during the authentication process. In the second half of the talk, a scalable distance estimation algorithm for distributed systems, DIStributed Coordinate System (DISCS), is presented. The motivation behind this study is that many distributed applications, such as BitTorrent, need to know the distance between each pair of network hosts in order to optimize their performance. For small-scale systems, explicit measurements can be carried out to collect the distance information. For large-scale applications, this approach does not work due to the tremendous amount of measurements that have to be completed. As a scalable algorithm, DISCS utilizes a limited set of distance measurements to achieve high-precision distance estimation for distributed systems. At the end of the presentation, our future work on protocols and algorithms for mobile cloud and distributed systems will be briefly discussed.
Twerking (Thursday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Kyra Gaunt from State University of New York at Albany will speak on “Booty Hopscotch (Keep That A$$ Jumpin’): Exploiting Tween Girls Twerking in YouTube’s Corporate-Controlled Spaces.”
Dal Law Hour (Thursday, 12:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Justice Sheila Ray from the Ontario Court of Justice will speak about restorative justice. Free pizza for attendees, they say, but they don’t mention whether it’s the pepperoni or some crazy pineapple thing, so I dunno.
Studying Graphs (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Adam Van Tuyl from McMaster University will speak on “Studying Graphs Using Commutative Algebra and Combinatorial Algebraic Topology.” His abstract:
In the early 1990s, R. Villarreal described how to associate a finite simple graph a monomial ideal in a polynomial ring. This construction allows us to use tools in commutative algebra to study graphs, or alternatively, results in graph theory can be used to derive algebraic results. Because monomial ideals can also be associated to ab-stract simplicial complexes via Stanley-Reisner theory, we can construct a dictionary between finite simple graphs, monomial ideals, and abstract simplicial complexes. In this talk I will introduce the correspondence between these three areas and give exam-ples of the dictionary in action. Among other things, I will explain how the chromatic number of a graph can be encoded algebraically and how to classify perfect graphs using commutative algebra.
Belong Forum (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — MIT historian Craig Steven Wilder will speak about his book Ebony and Ivory, which is about the role of race and slavery in the development of several Ivy League universities in the United States. Register here.
Dalits and the Making of Modern India (Thursday, 6:30pm, in the room named after a bank, Halifax Central Library) — Chinnaiah Jangam from Carleton University will speak about his new book.
Imagined Puppet Life (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall, King’s) — Dawn Brandes from the Fountain School of Performing Arts will speak.
In the harbour
Midnight: Itea, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
2:30am: Zim Antwerp, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
5am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
8:30am: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Charlottetown
3:30pm: Siem Cicero, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4pm: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
I guess I’m not sick anymore, so my plan is to spend all my “free” time staring at documents, trying to figure something out. This may or may not result in something worthwhile.