1. Emergency preparedness
“This Saturday, Sept 29, marks 15 years since Hurricane Juan ripped through Halifax in the middle of the night toppling trees, smashing boats and knocking out power for many days and even weeks in some neighbourhoods,” writes Jennifer Henderson:
Wind speeds of up to 178km an hour were recorded at McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour and the storm surge hit 2.9 meters at Prospect where the Category 2 hurricane made landfall.
What have we learned since Juan and how prepared are we to face another disaster?
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2. Facial recognition
I lost my driver’s licence, so a couple of weeks ago I had to bus it out to Bayers Lake to get a new one. This of course took most of a day because bus service to the BLIP is horribly inadequate.
I’m told the placement of Access Nova Scotia out in the BLIP is the result of a bureaucratic screw-up. Once upon a time, there was an Access NS on the peninsula, on Young Street near the Superstore. When the lease expired, a tender offer was issued that called for bids from landlords within a certain distance of the existing Access NS, I think three kilometres.
The radius requirement is standard in such tender offers. The existing landlord often wins the tender offer and the office stays where it is, but there’s still opportunity for others to compete. In the case of the Access NS lease renewal, the three-kilometre radius would still place the new office on the peninsula, and sure enough it landed out in West End Mall. That was super-convienient to bus riders, as it was just a walk across the parking lot from the Mumford Terminal.
But fast-forward to the end of the lease at the West End Mall in 2010, and another tender issued for the Access NS office. But, I’m told, rather than drawing a new map, with distinct geographic boundaries that would require the office to remain on the peninsula, whoever wrote the tender just went back to the old tender offer from when the Young Street lease was up, and copied and pasted the three-kilometre language from the old tender offer to the new one, and so suddenly the geographic possibilities for the new office excluded downtown locations and included Bayers Lake.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. I slogged out to Bayers Lake for a replacement licence. I gotta say, the staff was super helpful and friendly, and I was in and out of the office in about 15 minutes. So nothing against them; the front line workers aren’t responsible for what follows.
Before, when I went to get a new licence, the clerks would ask me to stand in front of the camera, I’d smile, they’d snap a pic and show it to me and if I didn’t like it they’d take another. No longer. Now, it’s like a passport photo: I had to take off my glasses and put on a dour face — I mean even more dour than usual, no smiling allowed.
Moreover, it used to be I’d just sit down for two minutes and wait for the machine to spit out a driver’s licence, and Bob’s your uncle, all done. Now, however, they mail the licence to you; mine arrived about a week later.
And something’s not right about this thing. I mean, sure, I should probably comb my hair every now and then, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Rather, the photo is blurry, like I’m standing in a cloud of smoke, and even my more-dour-than-usual features seem non-distinct. I’d have a hard time identifying myself from the photo in a crowd, and I look at the mug in the mirror every day; I don’t know how a cop is supposed to make heads or tails of it.
I had to rent a car yesterday, and the clerk at the rent-a-car place told me that all the new licences are like that, and every one who has one complains about the photo.
I bring this up because while I had been vaguely aware that the licence-making had been farmed out to some profit-leaching corporation, I didn’t know the full extent of this operation until I attended yesterday’s talk at Dal by Janet Burt-Gerrans. Burt-Gerrans is with the Information and Privacy Office, and was giving an overview of Nova Scotia’s freedom of information laws for Right To Know Week.
Burt-Gerrans also talked about issues her office is dealing with, including the new driver’s licences. She explained that the licence-making has been farmed out to the profit-leaching corporation (my term, not hers) in part so that the photos of every driver will end up in facial recognition database (the blurriness of the photos, it seems, somehow makes the facial recognition software work better). And that database, said Burt-Gerrans, is stored somewhere that’s not in Nova Scotia (she didn’t say where, exactly). Moreover, she said, there are no rules or policies in place to guard privacy or to regulate who can have access to the database and what they can use it for.
Burt-Gerrans said her office is working to develop recommendations for such rules, policies, and regulations, but it seems to me that’s closing the barn door after the horse has flown to Churchill Downs and spent my life savings wooing the slow pony.
I never consented to my more-dour-than-usual features being placed in a facial recognition database, but I guess I have no choice about the matter if I want to drive. And as I understand it, as of right now, my mug could be in the hands of any number of nefarious commercial enterprises who are chomping at the bit to personalize advertising to me while I’m walking down the street, à la Minority Report, or is being cross-checked by CSIS or the NSA or the Ministry of State Security, or all three, and I’ll inevitably be mistaken for some terrorist who has the misfortune of sharing some of my blurry facial characteristics.
3. Sackville fire
— Halifax Fire (@hfxfire) September 26, 2018
Halifax Fire posted dramatic footage of a Sackville fire on Twitter last night. The fire at 361 Springfield Lake Road destroyed a house, but no one was injured.
“The Trudeau government sought to defuse weeks of outrage by ordering officials to adopt a more critical eye before approving funds and services for the family member of veterans — particularly relatives convicted of serious crimes,” reports Lee Berthiaume for the Canadian Press:
Yet it wasn’t immediately clear what impact the order will have on the case of Christopher Garnier, the Halifax man convicted last year of killing an off-duty police officer whose receipt of financial assistance for PTSD treatment from Veterans Affairs Canada has sparked widespread anger.
A Halifax court heard last month that Veterans Affairs Canada was covering the cost of Garnier’s psychologist because his father was a veteran who has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
5. We’ll be PRed to death
Recent interview my colleague @MichaelTGorman did with @GeoffMacLellan The 4 women in this pic are all comms people. 3 work for the caucuses and the 4th is a @nsgov employee. #nspoli pic.twitter.com/ESlqNxJkyC
— Jean Laroche (@larochecbc) September 26, 2018
Sewage Plant Estates (Wednesday, 1pm, Council Chambers, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — since they don’t seem to want to blow up the casino and parking garages, I’m left naming that new neighbourhood by its biggest defining feature; you can register here for any of the following sessions:
1 – 3 pm: Design of Trails, Greenways & Connection to Water
3:30 – 5:30 pm,: Streetscape Features and Gateways
6 – 8 pm: Building Design Rules
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — the recommendation is to give St. Paul’s Church $150,000 towards fixing the ironstone wall and cast iron fencing surrounding the church.
Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Art Room, Prospect Road Community Centre) — no action items are on the agenda.
Port Wallace PPC Meeting (Thursday, 6:30pm, HEMDCC Large Meeting Room 1, Alderney Gate) — no agenda posted.
Public Information Meeting – Case 21927 (Thursday, 7pm, Gym, Ocean View Elementary School, Eastern Passage) — application by Gary Edwards, who wants to build some commercial buildings behind the two apartment buildings that have already been approved at 1490 Main Road in Eastern Passage. This is to the left as you’re driving into Eastern Passage, just before the fork in the road.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 10am, Province House) — I don’t know what they’re discussing, but I know what they’re not discussing.
Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)
Human Resources (Thursday, 11am, One Government Place) — a per diem meeting.
Legislature sits (Thursday, 11am, Province House)
Thesis Defence, Biology (Wednesday, 10:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Carolyn Marshall will defend her thesis, “Green Manure Termination Method Impact on Soil Carbon and Soil Biology Dynamics.”
Bill Freedman’s Plant Collection (Wednesday, 2pm, Wooded Area behind Sherriff Hall, 1355 Oxford Street) — register here.
Global Health Day (Wednesday, 3pm, panel discussion at 5pm, Tupper Medical Building) — displays and presentations about Global Health Day.
Iron Acquisition in Bacterial Pathogens: Structural and Functional Studies of Siderophore Biosynthesis (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Andrew M. Gulick from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, will speak.
Science, Technology and Society in the 21st Century: Ethics, Debates, and Collaboration (Wednesday, 6:30pm, in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building) — postdocs Michael Halpin, Tamara Sorenson Duncan, and Colin Bellinger will talk.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Having Non-defensive Conversations (Thursday, 9am, Room 224, Student Union Building) — “one full-day foundations session and eight weekly half-days of practical applications.” Register here.
Examining the Relationship Between Structural Pathology and Clinical Pathology: Envisioning a Community‑based Health Research Mandate for Diverse Black Canadian Communities (Thursday, 11am, Room 2L7, Tupper Link) — Ingrid Waldron will speak. Info here.
Reflections Of An International Alum: Voyages In Maritime Affair (Thursday, 3pm, Room 204, Weldon Law Building) — Jay L. Batongbacal will speak.
Complex Event Recognition for Maritime Monitoring (Thursday, 4pm, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — George Paliouras from the National Centre of Scientific Research “Demokritos” in Greece will speak. His abstract:
The aim of this talk is to present research results of the Complex Event Recognition lab (http://cer.iit.demokritos.gr/) of NCSR Demokritos (Athens, Greece), focusing on maritime applications. Maritime monitoring systems support safe shipping, through real-time detection of dangerous, suspicious and illegal vessel activities. We have been developing a complex event recognition system for maritime monitoring in the Event Calculus, allowing both for verification and real-time performance. The basic system is being developed through collaboration with domain experts, constructing effective patterns of maritime activity. In order to refine these patterns, we have developed online, relational learning techniques and applied them on AIS data streams. More recently, we have also been developing complex event forecasting techniques, allowing for predictive maritime analytics. In the talk, we will show results of our techniques on real AIS streams, covering large geographical areas.
Temple Grandin (Thursday, 4pm, Alumni Theatre, Cumming Hall, Agricultural Campus, Truro) — the talk is sold out, but it’s being livestreamed here.
Company Law and the Promotion of Social Policies (Thursday, 4:30pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Paul L. Davies from Harris Manchester College, Oxford, will speak. (Registration was required by September 7.)
White Coat Ceremony and Honorary Degree Conferral (Thursday, 5pm, Rebbecca Cohn Auditorium, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — the Faculty of Dentistry is giving Peter Cooney, the Chief Dental Officer of Canada, an honorary degree.
Our Energy Future: Lithium-ion Batteries and Electrochemical Energy Storage (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — Jeff Dahn will speak. Register here.
The Routledge Handbook of the Politics of Migration in Europe (Thursday, 1pm, Room LI135, Patrick Power Library) — co-editor Lyubov Zhyznomirska will speak.
Doing the Right Thing at Home and Abroad: Why Values Matter (Thursday, 7pm, in the theatre named after a bank) — Bob Rae, who in addition to being, well, Bob Rae, is also Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, will speak. Info here.
Amanda Jernigan and Darren Biford (Wednesday, 5pm, Senior Common Room, Arts and Administration Building) — a reading from the poets.
In the harbour
6am: Victory II, cruise ship with up to 220 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Bar Harbor
6am: ZIM Yokohoma, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
6am: Star Pride, cruise ship with 254 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Charlottetown. The Star Pride is on a nine-day cruise from Montreal to Boston.
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at anchorage from Saint-Pierre
4:30pm: Carmen, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5:30pm: ZIM Yokohoma, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
10pm: Star Pride, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Portland
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
I have no copyeditro today. Please be kind.