News
Views
Government
On campus
Noticed
In the harbour
Footnotes


News

1. Dental School scandal

Four professors at Dalhousie University—Françoise Baylis, Jocelyn Downie, Brian Noble and Jacqueline Warwick—have filed a formal complaint related to the “2015 DDS Gentlemen’s Club” Facebook group. The complaint asks that the students primarily involved in the group be temporarily suspended until the disciplinary process is complete. The four filed the complaint on December 21, asking for confidentiality, but went public with it over the weekend after what they called “unexplained delays.” Today is the first day of classes for the winter semester.

The CBC has published the complaint. Read it here.

2. Masked

Bob Dillman, who wears a mask over his mouth and nose to protect against environmental sensitivities, has had a hard time of it riding transit, where drivers and ferry staff have repeatedly refused to allow him on, reports the Chronicle Herald:

A common sight in Japan.

“I had one bus driver who told me to take it off, and I told him I’ve spoken with Metro Transit head office and they told me to have any driver call them and they would explain to him that I’m allowed to wear this on a bus,” Dillman said.

Nonetheless, Dillman said, the driver would not listen to him.

“He halted the bus and called the police; well, the police know the law and they don’t harass me about the mask because they know I need it.

Environmental sensitivity aside, many Japanese commuters ride transit with masks so not to transmit their colds to other riders (and more recently, for other reasons). That sensible respect for fellow travellers hasn’t caught on here in North America—we’re expected to show up for work, no matter how sick we are, and no matter how many of our coworkers and cocommuters we infect.

But I wonder if Halifax Transit might be un-bold while ignoring The Ivany Report’s (everyone drink!) call for more immigrant-friendly policies.

3. Pedestrian struck by vehicle

Halifax police shift report yesterday:

At 10:30 am HRP responded to a motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian in the 6900 block of Mumford Rd Halifax.  A 63 yr. old female walking through a parking lot was struck by a truck plowing snow at that location. She received minor injuries and was transported by EHS to the QEII Emergency as a precaution. Charges are not expected.

4. Ministry of Truth

Global’s Brett Ruskin reports that the Harper government “is looking to spend millions on advertorials, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.” Ruskin found two tender offerings, the first to implement a $590,000 budgeted social media campaign. The second, and more problematic offer, is for implementation of a $1,250,000 budget for “customized news stories,” that, is, advertorial:

The sole-sourced contract will pay News Canada to “provide feature news production, distribution, monitoring and analysis services to inform and educate Canadians on public issues.”

News Canada provides copyright-free content for print, online and broadcast news outlets. Each story is free to publish but contains information sponsored by private companies.

Good on Ruskin for highlighting this, and bad on media outlets that use this material. We should find a way to identify the advertorials and shame those outlets.


Views

1. Ravelled, roiling mess

Dalhousie University is facing a “ravelled, roiling mess” in the dental school scandal, mostly of its own creation, says Stephen Kimber.

2. Dartmouth lakes

The three Dartmouth Lakes. North is to the right. Google maps.

The three Dartmouth lakes we now know as Lake Banook, Lake Micmac, and Lake Charles were not so named until 1922, reports David Jones. Previously, the lakes were known as simply First Lake, Second Lake, and Third Lake.

The renaming came via a contest run by the Evening Echo newspaper, judged by Mayor Walter Mosher, Superintendent of Education A. H. MacKay, and Dartmouth town councillor A. C. Pettipas.

It’s interesting that the first two lakes were named with some nod to the aboriginal population, albeit “Banook” was already the name of a rowing club on the lake. Lake Charles was named after Charles W Fairbanks, the chief engineer of the Shubenacadie Canal, “a man of remarkable energy, who if the Halifax-Truro Railway had not been promptly opened might have given the Province a functioning canal connecting Halifax Harbor with the Bay of Fundy.

This blows my previously untested theory about the placement of the word “lake” before or after the actual name of the body of water. The three Dartmouth lakes all come in the form of “Lake X,” while most other lakes locally are “X Lake.” I had guessed that this reflected a French-versus-English origin for the place name, with the older French form being adopted by the English settlers, much as we have adopted the French names to the Great Lakes—Lac Supérieur, Lac Erie, etc. Now I’m simply confused, and have no idea why the learned Messrs. Mosher, MacKay and Pettipas would put “lake” first in the newly adopted place names.

3. Socking it to the homeless

Judy Haiven lambasts CBC host Michael Enright’s plea to have listeners donate socks to the homeless:

Somehow we in the middle class know what’s right for the poor—banged up tins and instant noodle soup packets or socks to help them live on the streets or shelters in winter.

But the middle class seldom calls for an increase in welfare, a guaranteed annual income or permanent housing for the homeless or the poor. I wonder how many times Mr. Enright has attended a protest or action by anti-poverty activists to demand housing for the homeless? How many times has he written letters to the editor or the premier about the situation? When has he spoken publicly in favour of a guaranteed annual income?

Poverty and homelessness are not any one person’s fault. They are the fault of a society based on greed, debt and desire to punish the “have-nots,” and give tax breaks to the “haves.”

I’m one of the “haves.” I say enough. I want to pay higher taxes so others can eat, rent an apartment and have a guaranteed decent annual income. Buying socks and extra packages of pasta will never make the changes we need as a society. But speaking out, demonstrating and holding our provincial and federal politicians accountable could help.

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

…Then this cute little creature began to grow into a monster. Every day I was bombarded with fascinating announcements such as “I’m going to paint the baby barn after supper” or “My favourite song ever was ‘Lola’ by the Kinks.” Captivating.

[…]

Then, I began to realize there were reasons some of those people were in my past and not in my present. And, God love them, I didn’t need to know, even from the people I care for, that their baby barn needed painting.

So, I took the bull by the horns and gassed Facebook. It was a significant event, after which I felt like I had been “cleansed” somewhat.

Now, I like to talk on my phone, not message on it, except in certain circumstances with the people I hold dear. I don’t use it while in the company of others, unless the incoming call is accompanied by a voice message stating “Your house is on fire” or “You’ve just won the lottery.”

I’m not ashamed to say I don’t know what a tweet is, either. And if someone wants to tell me they’re going to paint their baby barn, well, they’ll just have to call me I guess. Leave a message if I don’t pick up.

Steve Woods, Little Bras d’Or


Government

No public meetings today.


On campus

No public events today.


Noticed

Regular readers know my disdain for air travel, and in particular my hatred for the horrible customer service from the airlines. Over the holidays New Yorker contributor Tim Wu put some context to the issue, using as a starting point the recent explosion in airline fees:

But the fee model comes with systematic costs that are not immediately obvious. Here’s the thing: in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid. That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as “calculated misery.” Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that’s where the suffering begins.

The necessity of degrading basic service provides a partial explanation for the fact that, in the past decade, the major airlines have done what they can to make flying basic economy, particularly on longer flights, an intolerable experience. For one thing, as the Wall Street Journal has documented, airlines have crammed more seats into the basic economy section of the airplane, even on long-haul flights. The seats, meanwhile, have gotten smaller—they are narrower and set closer together. Bill McGee, a contributing editor to Consumer Reports who worked in the airline industry for many years, studied seat sizes and summarized his findings this way: “The roomiest economy seats you can book on the nation’s four largest airlines are narrower than the tightest economy seats offered in the 1990s.”

Boarding for non-élite flyers has also become a miserable experience. There are far more efficient ways to load planes than the current back-to-front method, which is actually slower than random boarding. The process takes longer still thanks to the practice of letting flyers with status board out of turn and thanks to luggage charges, which compel fee-avoiders to cram their bags into overhead compartments. Airlines lack a real incentive to fundamentally improve boarding for everyone—by, for example, investing in methods such as filling both ends of an airplane at once. It would make life better and also defeat the status racket.

Fee models also lead most people to spend unwarranted time and energy calculating, agonizing, and repacking in the hope of avoiding paying more. The various fees make prices hard to compare, as a ticket can now represent just a fraction of the total expense. These are real costs, and they are compounded by ticketing practices, which demand perfect timing. When customers miscalculate their schedules or their plans change, the airline is ready with its punishment: the notorious two-hundred-dollar rebooking and change fee.

There you go: calculated misery is the very business model. The airlines really do hate us.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 6:30am Monday. Map: marinetraffic.com

Nyk Demeter, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove
Janus, tug, to Pier 9
ZIM Piraeus, container ship, New York to Pier 9, then sails for Kingston, Jamaica
Atlantic Cartier, con-ro, New York to Fairview Cove, then sails for Liverpool, England
Balto, bulker, Brayton Point, Massachusetts to anchor
Macao Strait sails for Mariel, Cuba

The Hoegh Osaka has run aground off Southampton, England. Photo: Daily Mail

The Hoegh Osaka, a car carrier leaving the port of Southampton, England, was listing and appears to have been purposefully run into a reef to avoid sinking completely. The vessel is carrying 1,400 “Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, as well as up to 80 agricultural or building plant machines,” reports the Daily Mail. The crew of 25 was safely evacuated, save for one broken leg.

Many car carriers leaving Southampton head to Halifax, and vice-versa, but I can find no record of the Hoegh Osaka having visited. Too bad the incident didn’t happen here; it would give us something to talk about for a while.

As Peter Ziobrowski points out, the seas still present danger to maritimers, and the Hoegh Osaka grounding was just one of four notable incidents in recent days.


Footnotes

An hour or so after this Morning File goes live, I’ll publish something Bruce Wark wrote for the Examiner.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. My mum-in-law (Amelia Hutt McDow Gerard) who is 95 and moved to Dartmouth when she was in her twenties, uses the names First Lake, Second Lake, and Third Lake.

  2. Rent control would be a nice thing for the provincial government to do for lower income people. I wonder if that would help prevent some people from becoming homeless. Too bad it didn’t happen while the NDP was in power, they care about reducing poverty don’t they?

  3. The next two Lakes on the Shubi canal route are in the format of Lake X, however.

    Lake Williman
    Lake Thomas

    If Google maps is to be believed, today there is a community “Fletchers Lake”, and a body of water, “Lake Fletcher”. Having grown up on Lake Thomas, I can say with some clarity both are used interchangeably.

    The canal commission has it at “Fletchers Lake”, but then they also label Grand Lake as “Shubenacadie Grand Lake”, who no one used in its full official form.

  4. I rather like the idea of Lake X instead of X Lake. It gives you a description of the nature of the named place, followed by the name of the place. From general to specific. We should expand this idea across the board: Highway Circumferential, Landing Alderney, Harbour Cole, Bousquet Tim.

    1. James’s suggestion reminds me of the ferocious debate in the late ’70s and early ’80s when Dominion Day was renamed Canada Day. The Women’s Editor of the Cape Breton Post, a redoubtable former school m’arm who might have been expected to oppose the change, wrote in her weekly column: “I just thank heaven they didn’t call it Day Canada.”

  5. Judy Haiven is absolutely correct in her assertion that more money has to be directed toward solving issues around poverty. We need to be spending more money in mental health and addictions services, more money in education and training and we need to raise funding for social assistance to meet that basic physiological and safety needs (see Maslow). We expect the impossible of those living in poverty. We expect them to progress when we as a society leave them without the basic needs which anyone who has taken Psych 101 will tell you are required to allow for self improvement. If anyone thinks social assistance is sufficient I challenge them to live in Highfield Park on social assistance levels of income and try to improve themselves. We treat mental illness as something that is not debilitating. We have a patchwork system for providing assistance and then when people can’t cure themselves we stigmatize them and leave them without the means to grow.

    I would be willing to pay more in taxes to achieve this if once the government stops wasting money there is a shortfall. As long as we have a Lt Governor, Communications NS, NS Business Inc and as long as we are bleeding out money in corporate welfare I am resistant to new taxes. If we want to grow this province we need to invest in people (Community Services, Health and Education) first and then public infrastructure. If there is money left over we can look at frills like attending state funerals and trade missions. We need to put people first.