In the harbour


1. Library

The new Central Library opens today. Here’s the schedule of festivities.

2. Coast Guard base

Martha Crago, a oneNS Coalition member and vice-president of research at Dalhousie, has asked Premier Stephen McNeil to consider turning the now-closed Coast Guard base on the Dartmouth waterfront into a marine research centre, reports the Chronicle Herald’s Michael Gorman. The land is still owned by the federal government, but should soon be turned over to the Waterfront Development Corporation.

I don’t know if Crago’s idea has merit or not, but I’m sure there are a gazillion condo developers drooling over the site.

3. Pedestrian struck by vehicle

Yesterday afternoon:

At 1:49 p.m., police responded to a vehicle/pedestrian collision in the 200 block of Wyse Road. A 68-year-old male pedestrian attempting to cross Wyse Road was hit by a car travelling north on Wyse Road. He suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to hospital by EHS. He was not in a crosswalk. 

The pedestrian was issued a summary offence ticket under section 125(5) of the Motor Vehicle Act for crossing a roadway outside of crosswalk zone, failing to yield to traffic. This ticket carries a fine of $406.45 upon conviction.

4. Frankie MacDonald

The Cape Breton Post profiles Frankie MacDonald:

“I made my first scenery video on December 27, 2007,” said the affable MacDonald, who became known across Canada for his posts on The Weather Network’s online site.

“I made my first YouTube video on December 16, 2009, and now people all over the world watch my videos and they tell me I make great YouTube videos.”

One Frankie video is worth all 27 CBC reporters assigned to a storm. For example, Frankie nailed the prediction for Wednesday’s monsoon:

YouTube video


1. Education

Ralph Surette wants an overhaul of the education system.

2. The Great Light Bulb Conspiracy

When CFL light bulbs—compact fluorescent lights, the twirly lights—were introduced, they were touted as much more energy efficient than the old incandescent bulbs, and they were supposed to last 10 times as long, so all we enviro-friendly types dutifully trotted out and bought some, replacing old bulbs as they burned out. The Nova Scotia government mandated their use, and Canada followed the US’s lead in phasing out the old bulbs.

At the time, the crazed Tea Partiers in the US saw the twirly lights as a vast conspiracy, but that just cemented sane people’s view that the twirly bulbs were a sensible advance in lighting technology. Astoundingly, however, the Tea Partiers were right. It’s the single thing in the entire universe they’ve been right about. Obama is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist? Bzzzz. Wrong. Climate change is a hoax created by grant-grifting scientists? Nope. Twirly lights are a conspiracy? Yes!

As Rachel Brighton points out today:


In the United States, which Canada is copying, major manufacturers of light bulbs lobbied for a change in regulations to outlaw incandescent light bulbs, which were effective, simple, cheap to make, ship and buy but not very profitable.

The profit margin is more promising in new kinds of illuminating widgets, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). These are premium products that command higher profit margins and permit a constant array of technical improvements, making them a great new product for manufacturers.


In Nova Scotia, efficiency programs charged with changing light bulbs have been notoriously inefficient.

As I reported in a column almost four years ago, Nova Scotia Power Inc. was billing ratepayers up to $29 in additional expenses to provide a $4 light bulb under an energy conservation program. These extra costs included marketing, delivery, consulting, handling mail-in rebates and administration.

It won’t be long now before the new efficiency agency starts replacing mercury-filled CFLs with LEDs or other new lights.

The whole business of upgrading and swapping light bulbs in the name of “efficiency” looks like a con.

This week’s 99% Invisible podcast is about the light bulb in the Livermore, California firehouse, which has been dependably putting out light for 113 years, never burning out. The bulb is live streamed on the “bulbcam,” so you can watch it yourself:

The Livermore, California firehouse light bulb, at 3:45am local time this morning,
The Livermore, California firehouse light bulb, at 3:44am local time this morning,

How is it that this bulb created in 1901 is still burning, but just four years after they were introduced I have a drawer full of burned out twirly lights? Almost in passing, 99% Invisible mentions the Phoebus Cartel, which was a group of light bulb manufacturers in the 1920s and 30s that conspired to lower standards for light bulbs. See, the problem was that light bulbs manufactured before then were too good—the typical bulb lasted up to 2,500 hours, and so the companies couldn’t fully maximize profit by selling replacement bulbs. The cartel therefore set out to shorten the life of light bulbs to a mere 1,000 hours.

As law prof Markus Krajewski explains:

The details of this effort have been very slow to emerge. Some facts came to light in the 1940s, when the U.S. government investigated GE and a number of its business partners for anticompetitive practices. Others were uncovered more recently, when I and the German journalist Helmut Höge delved into the corporate archives of Osram in Berlin. Jointly founded in 1920 by three German companies, Osram remains one of the world’s leading makers of all kinds of lighting, including state-of-the-art LEDs. In the archives, we found meticulous correspondence between the cartel’s factories and laboratories, which were researching how to modify the filament and other measures to shorten the life span of their bulbs.

The cartel took its business of shortening the lifetime of bulbs every bit as seriously as earlier researchers had approached their job of lengthening it. Each factory bound by the cartel agreement—and there were hundreds, including GE’s numerous licensees throughout the world—had to regularly send samples of its bulbs to a central testing laboratory in Switzerland. There, the bulbs were thoroughly vetted against cartel standards. If any factory submitted bulbs lasting longer or shorter than the regulated life span for its type, the factory was obliged to pay a fine.

In his research, Krajewski unearthed this graph:

Out, Out, Brief Bulb: Prior to the Phoebus cartel’s formation in 1924, household bulbs typically burned for a total of 1,500 to 2,500 hours; cartel members agreed to shorten that life span to a standard 1,000 hours. Each factory regularly sent lightbulb samples to the cartel’s central laboratory in Switzerland for verification. This graph, obtained from the Municipal Archive of Berlin, shows how life spans generally declined over time, from an average of 1,800 hours in 1926 to 1,205 hours in fiscal year 1933–34. Chart via Markus Krajewski in IEEE Spectrum]
Out, Out, Brief Bulb: Prior to the Phoebus cartel’s formation in 1924, household bulbs typically burned for a total of 1,500 to 2,500 hours; cartel members agreed to shorten that life span to a standard 1,000 hours. Each factory regularly sent lightbulb samples to the cartel’s central laboratory in Switzerland for verification. This graph, obtained from the Municipal Archive of Berlin, shows how life spans generally declined over time, from an average of 1,800 hours in 1926 to 1,205 hours in fiscal year 1933–34. [Graph via Markus Krajewski in IEEE Spectrum]

The Phoebus Cartel was the first truly international manufacturers’ conspiracy, and kept completely secret. The Stonecutters would be proud. It was also perhaps the best example of planned obsolescence in history.

Well, until that twirly light scam came along.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Yarmouth Vanguard:

This is a response to the Chris Perry letter regarding the downtown “music.” It seems because I do not like the ugly noise I am considered selfish. Isn’t it much more selfish for a few people to force an entire downtown to listen to what they like?

Regarding his comment about the couple from the States referring to it as torture, when you are forced to listen to something that drives you insane for 12 hours a day, four or five days a week, the same stuff over and over, I think it can be called torture.

“Popular music selections played at a low volume”?  You have GOT to be kidding.

And when people are on holiday why should they be forced to listen to loud ugly music?

We are trying to keep people here, not chase them away.


Then there was the comment a minimum of three hours before a song repeats. I have found the repeats to be about 40 minutes. On one afternoon in September I heard the same screaming female about five times. 


Not all people like the same music. The commercial pop music or whatever it is that I have been forced to listen to all year I have not willingly listened to since about 1971.  I am glad that a number of people do enjoy it, but wouldn’t it have been easier and cheaper to just expect them to get a radio?


After my first letter was published, I had lots of people thank me. There are many people who hate the noise as much as I do, but perhaps a lot of them are not as willing to be as outspoken as I am.

Please, just stop being so arrogant!

Doris Cooke,
Hands On Crafts
314 Main Street


Joseph Howe. Photo: Library and Archives Canada.
Joseph Howe. Photo: Library and Archives Canada.

Today is Joseph Howe’s 210th birthday.

Howe famously faced down a libel charge for exposing corruption in his newspaper, The Novascotian, effectively bringing freedom of the press to Canada.

I keep meaning to write something substantial about Howe, but he’s such a gigantic figure that I don’t know if I can do him justice. For today, we should all read the entry about Howe in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 6:30am Saturday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 6:30am Saturday. Map:

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)

A very slow day at the port.


Swan Ace to Autoport


Ernest Hemingway to Kingston, Jamaica


You could be drinking your morning coffee in this cup.
You could be drinking your morning coffee in this cup.

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Joseph Howe’s thoughts on being forced into Canada via Confederation:

    “Confederation with Canada would, if adopted, deprive the people of Nova Scotia of the inestimable privilege of self-government, and of their rights, liberty and independence, rob them of their revenue, take from them the regulation of trade and taxation, expose them to arbitrary taxation by a legislature over which they have no control, and in which they would possess but a nominal and entirely ineffective representation; deprive them of their invaluable fisheries, railways, and other property, and reduce this hitherto free, happy, and self-governed province to a degraded condition of a servile dependency of Canada”.

    And here we are, a degraded servile dependency, as he predicted. Thanks Canada, for the railway (sold, being dismantled) and extra senate seats (high potential of being disbanded) we got as conditions of confederation though.

    Nova Scotia had it’s own constitution, and senate. Joseph Howe petitioned London several times to remain independent. It was Nova Scotia’s experiences with “Canada” that became the legal basis for Quebec separation. This “confederation” remains a joke.

  2. Re: coast guard base as marine research – an ironic suggestion as the Coast Guard has been moved to the BIO which as far as I know is a marine research centre…. But please, anything to prevent Waterfront Development Corporation encouraging view and access blocking high rise luxury condos on the property. I’d like to see some of it become open space, including a portion as an off leash area as currently people have to go to Shubie, and I for one am fed up with encountering so many off leash dogs on the Harbourfront Trail.

  3. Oh me oh my! Coincidently this week the second of two light bulbs in one of our rooms went out. The bulbs were covered with one of those decorative cover thingies and when I unscrewed the cover, I discovered two thirteen watt twirly whirly bulbs. I recalled the news reports about people starting business to recycle these and the government wiffle waffling on this recycling. We have secondary lamps in room so we managed with them until the weekend. Since we rarely have the overhead light on in this room it seemed prudent to just buy the cheapest old school light bulbs we could find.

    Really enjoyed the write up on the history of the light bulb. There is a section in Thomas Pynchon’s, Gravity’s Rainbow about a personified light bulb. Byron the light bulb. It’s wordy and lengthy but a fun weekend read if you have the time.

  4. Historians regard the notion that Joe Howe brought Freedom of the Press to Canada as a myth. He won an acquittal through jury nullification, but shortly afterwards, others were convicted of the same offence. Seditious libel remained a criminal offence in Canada well into the 20th Century. The Cape Breton Communist mine union leader J. B. McLachlan was sent to Dorchester Penitentiary for seditious libel at the height of his influence, and his health never recovered.

    He made a great speech, though.