June subscription drive
A couple of months ago, someone I no longer follow on social media (and whose name I have forgotten) warned readers that if someone from a news organization posted a link to a story behind a paywall, they were trying to maliciously track you by collecting all kinds of information about you, and it was bullshit and you should unfollow them immediately.
I have no idea what other news sites are up to when it comes to tracking, though I do seem to recall something about Pornhub having fewer trackers than some mainstream news outlets. And, I note that in the last two minutes an app on my phone has blocked 74 tracking attempts from within the New York Times app. (The companies trying to do the tracking are Google, comScore, and Datadog.)
You don’t have to worry about any of that with the Halifax Examiner. We are not tracking you or selling your data. The Examiner’s relationship with subscribers is pretty simple: You subscribe, and you get to read the news. Selling your data to third parties is not part of the deal. If one of us posts a link on social media to an article behind a paywall, we kind of hope you’ll subscribe and read the article, but there is nothing more nefarious going on.
Occasionally, in our private chats, Examiner folks get to talking about “the funnel,” in the context of how online marketers keep telling Iris she needs a funnel, and she begs to differ. The funnel is an approach (according to Wikipedia, first formulated in 1924) that draws people in until they finally spend money. You can find many, many representations of the funnel online. They are variants of this:
McKinsey, the mega-connected consulting firm, says “every business needs a full-funnel marketing strategy“:
This approach isn’t just about doing more across each stage of the funnel. It’s about understanding how each of the stages impacts the others for a complete customer experience — how media spend on addressable TV, for example, can boost the impact of personalized emails, or how social-media ad campaigns can drive online and in-store visits.
I don’t know. It all just seems exhausting to me. Maybe you could save us the trouble of implementing a full-funnel marketing strategy and just subscribe here. If you’ve been thinking about subscribing but haven’t yet, well, today is a great day to decide to join the ranks of the thousands of people from Nova Scotia and various far-flung locales who subscribe to the Examiner.
1. ‘It’s about to erupt into violence’: Hants County and Lake Pisiquid, part 2
The Examiner has published part two of Joan Baxter’s two-part series on controversy over Lake Pisiquid, the Windsor aboiteau, and the divisions it has caused in the community.
“Divisions” seems like kind of mild term, given some of the quotes in the story. Baxter talks to Alex Hanes, who administers the Hants County and Beyond Facebook page:
In an interview, Hanes tells the Halifax Examiner that it sometimes gets to a point where he too has to get angry to try to calm commenters down. He says he tried all last weekend to get his point across that free speech is not hate speech, and people still argued with him.
Hanes says it can be like dealing with children. “That’s what I’m dealing with. I gave one fellow a timeout last night, and he ranted at me until 1:30 in the morning on private messenger.”
Baxter speaks with people who want the lake (actually a reservoir, as one notes), those who are opposed, and those who see some merit in both positions. But opinions are, to say the least, strong:
[Developer Mitchell] Brison tells the Examiner that with the tide blocked and the lake in place, everyone was “actually happy.” But after the Fisheries Act was changed, he says “Indigenous groups and Darren Porter got involved.”
Brison’s comments about Porter become personal. “He’s a bad man, it’s just that simple,” says Brison. “And you can quote me on that … He has a very, very poor name in this area.”
2. More funding for Wije’winen Centre from province, feds
This item is written by Suzanne Rent.
Wije’winen Centre, the new Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre to be built in Halifax, just received another $15 million for the project.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the province said it was spending another $10 million for the new centre, while Ottawa is adding another $5 million. The federal government announced in 2022 that it was contributing $32.8 million to the project.
“Today marks a new chapter for the much-anticipated Wije’winen Centre that will transform the availability of program services for the urban Indigenous community in Kjipuktuk,” said Pam Glode Desrochers, executive director, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in a press release about the announcement. “This funding from the Province of Nova Scotia and Infrastructure Canada will ensure that we can comprehensively continue to house and administer essential supports to the growing urban Indigenous population.”
The current friendship centre is located in a temporary location on Brunswick Street. The centre offers programs, including for youth, seniors, and families, as well as for health and wellness, education, and harm reduction.
As the Examiner reported in March, the centre will be built at the site of the former Red Cross building at 1940 Gottingen St. Halifax regional council voted unanimously in favour of a motion to sell that HRM property to the centre for $1. Demolition of the building currently on site is expected to take place this year.
Construction on the new centre could start as early as next spring.
This item is written by Suzanne Rent.
A new pilot program will offer continuing care assistants (CCAs) now working in Nova Scotia to have the chance to train to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
In a press release on Tuesday, the province announced the CCA–Practical Nursing Bridging Program will offer to pay tuition, textbooks and most of the fees for 25 students who have worked in a nursing home or home care agency for at least two years.
“We’ve heard from CCAs that they are looking for opportunities to advance their careers and we are happy to support them in their journey,” said Barbara Adams, Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care in the press release. “This first-in-Nova Scotia program will support CCAs by reducing the financial barriers to professional development and help in our efforts to make continuing care a career path of choice in Nova Scotia.”
The 2.5-year program will include online classes and in-person lab work at the NSCC campus in Truro. Students will be eligible to write the licensed practical exam when they finish the program. They must also sign an agreement to continue to work in continuing care in Nova Scotia for at least two years after they graduate.
Mi’kmaw elder Daniel Paul, best known for his book We Were Not the Savages and for his decades-long fight to rename landmarks honouring Edward Cornwallis, has died. Paul had previously announced he had been diagnosed with cancer. He was 84. His niece, Candice Lee Sylliboy, tells CTV News:
Uncle Dan was very kind, humble, and loving, to all the people he loved. He was the trailblazer for Mi’kma’ki in providing Canada with the true history of the Mi’kmaw people…
He was not afraid to stand up and speak his truth about the past. He always stood up for what was right for the nation, and he did it in the way of education.
He said it required examining the past in a way that doesn’t “leave out the oppression of a race of people, such as ours, which has been the practice in Canada for far too long.”
“What is better, for us to live in harmony and accept one another in peace and friendship?” he said. “Good things happen when people get to know one another.”
5. Ticketmaster takes over ticketing at arena named for big bank
Bye-bye Ticket Atlantic.
“To be the best, we have to work with the best,” (gag) the Scotiabank announcement said yesterday.
Ticketmaster has been mired in bad press recently. In the United States, President Joe Biden met with executives of Live Nation — Ticketmaster’s parent company — and other companies to make pricing more transparent and get rid of so-called “junk fees.”
As a result, Ticketmaster announced it is moving to all-in pricing, which will show customers the actual purchase price with fees included.
Late last year, a group of Taylor Swift fans sued Ticketmaster and Live Nation over a presale fiasco, where hundreds of thousands of fans were left without tickets to the singer’s 2023 Eras Tour.
This move was probably somewhat inevitable. Running your own in-house ticketing system in 2023 — like running so many other online operations in-house — is, I am sure, a challenge. And, let’s face it, the Ticket Atlantic experience mostly sucked.
Soon after the news broke, I reached out to local musician and independent music scene supporter Kev Corbett, and asked him for his thoughts. Corbett, who wanted me to note he is “a rockstar at my mom’s house and that’s about it,” said he was skeptical of Ticketmaster, but there might be some room for cautious optimism:
I would say.. that the monopolistic business model puts fans last and when they have bad ticketing experiences, as have recently become infamous… But if it ultimately brings more shows, and that results in renewed regional tourism and/or spinoff into rebuilding Halifax as a live music centre, that would be the best we can hope for out of it.
Ticket Atlantic has had its own long and troubled history, summarized in 2016 by Tim Bousquet, here writing about former Trade Centre Limited head Fred MacGillivray:
Under MacGillivray, operations were freewheeling: for example, he simply stole the Metro Centre box office from the city, forming Ticket Atlantic without the approval of either the city or his own board of directors. I’ve heard tales of the son of one TCL exec handing out Metro Centre drink and meal tickets to his buddies at a comp box seat. And financial reports seem to have been made up on the fly.
And, of course, it was deeply implicated in the concert scandal. So, no tears shed, really. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.
6. Judge ‘reluctantly’ rules against prisoner in lockdown case
Chris Lambie at SaltWire reports on a court case brought against the province of Nova Scotia and the Central Nova Scotia Correctional facility by Thomas Downey, a prisoner at the Burnside jail. Downey’s case centres on harm caused to prisoners by the use of lockdowns due to staffing shortages:
Downey told the court that “the deprivation of his residual liberties began on April 20, 2023, when CNSCF began instituting rotational lockdowns. He states that the only reason he was given for the lockdowns was staff shortages at the facility,” said the decision released Tuesday.
Downey said “that he is not being offered time in the airing court during rotational lockdowns, nor is he given daily access to phone calls or showers,” said the judge. “Mr. Downey further states that he is having difficulty placing calls to his lawyers.”
He complained that the situation, “smacks of punishment and is no different than lockdown units reserved for high risk, and violent inmates.”
Judge Christa Brothers “reluctantly” found against Downey, but her decision is worth quoting at some length:
Although Mr. Downey’s application cannot succeed, it has given the court the opportunity to express its deep concern about the routine use of rotational lockdowns to respond to staffing challenges at CNSCF. I accept that these lockdowns are having a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of the people in custody. These individuals are being confined to their cells for reasons that are outside their control. They never know from one day to the next how much time they will get outside of their cells, as the decision is made each morning when the unit captains arrive for their shifts. There is nothing that a person in custody can do to earn more time outside of their cell. This situation adds an extra layer of stress and anxiety to the day-to-day experience of persons in custody and staff, and can increase tensions in the dayrooms, as reported by D/S Ross.
When courts sentence offenders to prison, they do so with the hope that those individuals can rehabilitate themselves and successfully reintegrate into the community. That is the premise of our criminal justice system. Confining persons in custody – many of whom may have pre-existing mental health issues – to their cells for exorbitant periods of time does nothing to assist and support their rehabilitation. Mr. Downey provided persuasive evidence of the toll this is taking on his mental and physical health. Even a person with robust mental health would find it challenging to be regularly confined to a cell, often for more than 20 hours per day, with little notice and no ability to earn more time out. This practice is dehumanizing, and it is setting these individuals up to fail. They deserve better.
Staffing issues at CNSCF have been ongoing for over three years. I was provided with very limited information on this application concerning concrete steps being taken to alleviate the staffing shortage. While I accept that administrators like D/S Ross are doing the best they can with the available staff, this is cold comfort to Mr. Downey and others who have recently filed habeas corpus applications in relation to the rotational lockdowns at CNSCF. Nor will they find comfort in the fact that their onerous conditions of confinement are no more restrictive than those faced by their peers in protective custody and general population.
The court has no power on this application to order the government to increase its efforts to hire and retain more staff. That said, there are striking similarities between the conditions of confinement at CNSCF during rotational lockdowns and those that were held to constitute cruel and unusual treatment in Trang, supra. If creative and effective measures to hire and retain staff are not pursued, there may come a day when, in a suitable procedural context, the court can provide some form of remedy.
1. Content warning: This Morning File contains a discussion of content warnings
Do you remember the moral panic about trigger warnings, a decade or so ago? For a while, they were the much-maligned phenomenon that was going to destroy civilization by coddling the youth. Or, in the words of George Carlin, from his “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, they would “infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war.”
What would happen if college students knew ahead of time that a text they were going to read contained depictions of events they might find, well, triggering? How were they going to survive in the real world? etc. etc.
I will admit that when the Trigger Warning Discourse™ first appeared, part of me did engage in some internal head-shaking and maybe finger-wagging too. You can’t reduce Romeo and Juliet to a warning about suicide! Of course, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart contains references to, as an Oberlin College warning put it: “racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more.” (Oberlin seems to play an outsized role in the moral panics game.) It should be noted that the warning also said the book was “a triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” and that Oberlin, according to the New Yorker, eventually dropped the trigger warning policy.
Interestingly, there is some research showing that if the purpose of the trigger warning is to, well, warn people who have been through traumatic events and might be triggered by reading about similar trauma, they aren’t actually all that effective and may even be counterproductive.
In a piece published at the Conversation last year, three Australian researchers conducted a review of the literature on the effectiveness of trigger warnings in university. They found that sometimes they can create harm, by making trauma more central to students’ identity, and that by creating anticipation they can heighten the impact of texts:
In our review of 20 peer-reviewed studies, published between 2010 and 2020, we found that trigger warnings can inflame existing stressors and exacerbate maladaptive behaviours, both of which can undermine students’ autonomy and their ability to cope with potential distress…
Some studies found trigger warnings can promote students’ emotional wellbeing by encouraging them to prepare for a potentially difficult discussion. However, when trigger warnings are used in isolation, or in a tokenistic way, they are not an effective strategy for managing trauma.
Unlike pundits of the moral panic persuasion, the Australian researchers don’t conclude that this means students need to buck up, etc, but that a) trigger warnings do not work to address serious mental health problems, and may, indeed exacerbate them, and that b) students need actual support and not just tokenism:
Teachers should employ a holistic, trauma-informed framework, across all disciplines, that promotes resilience and recovery through a skills-based approach to coping and capacity building. For example, building reflective tasks into a curriculum can assist students with self-awareness and resilience as strategies for coping with potentially traumatic content.
The overall finding of our review is that when embedded as part of such a broader approach, trigger warnings can be a valuable tool for assisting with the management and reduction of trauma exposure.
But relying solely on trigger warnings, especially as a disingenuous gesture of trauma awareness, does more harm than good.
The New Yorker story, which is by Jeannie Suk Gersen (who has also written on this for The Atlantic), generally argues against trigger warnings in university but also notes this:
Trigger warnings seem to have less impact than their critics have feared. Some opponents of trigger warnings seem to suppose that they are a way for students to demand that they not encounter ideas that challenge their beliefs, particularly on social-justice issues. That opposition is part of broader worries about teachers “coddling” students, cultivating their fragility, or shielding them from discussions that might expand their minds. Trigger-warning studies, however, have revealed that giving trigger warnings does not seem to result in recipients choosing to avoid the material. Instead, the warned individuals tended to forge ahead.
Somewhere over the last few years, the trigger warning seems to have fallen out of favour, replaced by the content warning or content note. They have also moved from being purely a university phenomenon, to something seen more widely. Neptune Theatre, for instance, now regularly offers content warnings for its shows. (The one for Fall on Your Knees was very extensive.) Some media, like CBC, regularly put them at the top of stories. Mastodon has long had a very broad culture of content warnings, with some posts hidden below a “CW” button that you have to tap to expand the post. This is designed in part to prevent doomscrolling. And if you find it irritating, you can simply change settings so CW posts are no longer hidden. Many crossword publishers (notably the New York Times), assess clues and answers based on “the breakfast test.” How is someone going to feel reading this over their breakfast?
Here at the Examiner, we don’t have a formal policy (as far as I know) and we are not entirely consistent, but we do use them at least some of the time.
Personally, I have come to appreciate the content warning. I try to use them in particular if I’m writing about something that seems relatively innocuous, but then gets into more upsetting themes. Of course, news is not the same as crosswords — which can be a diversion from the news — but if someone is reading a piece on X and then comes across distressing Y unexpectedly, I think it’s fair to give them a warning. Maybe this is not what they want to be reading with their morning coffee. This is a modest role for the content warning. It’s not claiming to protect people who suffer from PTSD. It’s more along the line of hey: heads up.
As a reader, I tend to use content warnings not to avoid difficult material, but to decide whether it’s something I am up for reading right now. Maybe I want to give it my full attention later. Maybe I’m feeling particularly vulnerable and just not up for it. Maybe I’m on social media for a bit of distraction (vs being there to try and be informed, ha ha) and not in the mood.
Certainly, the multiple content warnings don’t seem to have hurt attendance at the Neptune shows I’ve been to. “Heads up,” I suspect, for most people, does not translate into “stay away.”
In addition to facing barriers to employment, disabled people who are employed are paid considerably less than their non-disabled colleagues, the data shows. Information comes from the 2019 Canadian Income Survey, and is meant to serve as a baseline in terms of addressing the issue. From the report:
- The 2019 CIS revealed that persons with disabilities aged 16 years and older had an average annual income of about $11,500 less than persons without disabilities ($43,400 and $55,200, respectively). This results in a 21.4% pay gap between persons with and without disabilities, or persons with disabilities earned 79 cents to every dollar earned by persons without disabilities.
- Men with disabilities reported a 24.3% pay gap in annual average earnings compared with men without disabilities ($48,700 and $64,300, respectively)… The pay gap between the annual average earnings of women with and without disabilities was 13.7% ($38,900 and $45,100, respectively).
- Persons with cognitive disabilities earned less than half (46.4%) of those without disabilities.
- In 2019, among employed persons, persons with disabilities were less likely to work full-time (76.9%) than persons without disabilities (84.5%). However, among those with full-time employment, persons with disabilities earned, on average, $11,200 less than persons without disabilities annually, resulting in a pay gap of 16.6%.
Yesterday, the Globe and Mail published an excellent opinion piece by André Picard, on the need for proper implementation of the newly passed Canada Disability Benefit.
The CDB is desperately needed. About one in five Canadians live with a physical, developmental or psychiatric disability. That’s about 6.2 million people. Two in every five people living in poverty in this country have a disability.
This level of poverty is baked into our public policies. In 2021, a single person living with a disability was eligible for provincial welfare payments ranging from a low of $10,884 in New Brunswick to a high of $21,164 in Alberta…
The CDB also needs to be an individual, income-based benefit, not family-based. It’s absurd that people with disabilities often lose important supports like transportation because they are in a relationship with someone earning an income.
And the issue of clawbacks is all-important. Provinces, territories, private insurers and service providers like group homes can’t use this new benefit as a cash grab.
The purpose here is to lift people out of poverty.
Preserving analog photo booths
I recently came across these folks, who restore and maintain old analog photo booths:
There are less than fifty working analog photo booths remaining in the world now.
Since 2007, FotoAutomat has been working to preserve this photographic heritage by restoring and maintaining the last original analog photobooths in Paris, Nantes and Prague, mainly in spaces dedicated to art and culture.
As you might expect, there are lots of great photos of photo booths on the site, and details on how they were restored. This one caught my eye, because it seemed very familiar, and, it turned out there was a good reason for that; it was a model in use in Montreal:
A popular model in the 1970‘s, in service in Montreal until 1986. The famous, spaghetti western style, Model 17 was later retired to make way for photobooths with a more modern look.
Decommissioned, stored away and then used for spare parts for 20 years, it was repaired and made reliable again by the FotoAutomat team in 2010.
This authentic Formica photobooth, once sad to see, has now been returned to its former splendour. It’s now at work in the Buttes Chaumont at the foot of the Puebla Pavillon.
Go enjoy the nice photos of the photo booths, and read up on their ingenious restoration.
Special Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, online) — agenda
Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, online) — agenda
Solar Butterfly exhibit (Thursday, 10am, Killam Loop) — the first stop on a North American tour
Equitable Futures: A public discussion of public health (Thursday, 5pm, Room 301, Halifax Central Library) — “a Café Scientifique to learn from/with the public how to address systemic fault lines and struggles of the public health system exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic;” more info here
Accelerating Worker Ownership: A Strategy Session on Co-operative Development in the Digital Economy and Beyond (Thursday, 1pm, online) — Zoom workshop; info and registration here
Hardscrabble Diamonds (Thursday, 4pm, MM 214A, McNally Building and online) — book launch of Colin Howell’s Hardscrabble Diamonds: Postwar Baseball in New England and the Maritimes, 1945–1960
In the harbour
06:30: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Pier 41
07:30: One Cygnus, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Dubai
08:30: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship with up to 550 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on an 18-day cruise from New York to Reykjavik, Iceland
13:00: Silver Shalis, yacht owned by billionaire Larry Silverstein, the developer of the World Trade Center in New York, arrives at Foundation Wharf from Chester
15:30: One Owl, container ship (146,412 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
15:30: Ocean Pearl, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
16:00: Aquijo, yacht owned by German billionaire Juergen Grossmann, who made his fortune in steel and tobacco, arrives at Foundation Wharf from Bar Harbor
16:30: Zim China, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
16:45: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 31
17:45: Seven Seas Navigator sails for Sydney
19:00: Jasmina D, bulker, sails from Pier 28 for sea
I see that some billionaires are disappointed and upset that their superyachts are no longer welcome in Naples.
06:15: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from sea
09:00: Baie St.Paul, bulker, transit through the causeway, en route from Charlottetown to Halifax
16:00: AlgoScotia sails for sea
19:00: CSL Kajika, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Sydney
I have mostly replaced my mouse with a trackball, and it is fantastic. I keep the trackball by my left hand, and the mouse by my right. I mostly use the mouse for tasks that require more precision, like audio editing.