News

1. Confucius Institute

Rinzin Ngodup, a Tibetan student at Saint Mary’s, says—rightly—that the Confucius Institute at the university is pure propaganda for the Communist regime in China.

This is one of the educational issues I’ve been meaning to explore with the Examiner, but haven’t yet been able to get to. A Nation article from last year—”China U.: Confucius Institutes censor political discussions and restrain the free exchange of ideas. Why, then, do American universities sponsor them?”—explores the issue at length.

2. Sydney Co-op closing

Thirty people out of work, and the era of mutual support coming to a close, all because people think they can save a few nickels at the Wal-Mart.

3. Morris House

The Morris House is the historic building that was moved from Hollis Street to the North End last year. Recently, some old clothes were discovered in the the attic walls of the building. After examining the clothes, archeologist Laura de Boer and architect Therese Harvey have postulated they reflect an old folk ritual. The Chronicle Herald explains:

The Morris House before it was moved. Photo: Heritage Trust

Most importantly, the three items were hidden behind sealed walls in places close to windows.

In earlier centuries, people in England, Germany and Scotland had a habit of building old shoes and clothes into their walls, believing it stopped negative influences from seeping into the cracks of their homes.

“It’s interesting that they all seem to be from a very small woman, even though they were all found in different areas,” said de Boer.

“Another characteristic that’s typical of that kind of sympathetic magic stashing is that it’s not something that’s accessible. It’s usually a sealed compartment that they would put things in.”

The archeologist has heard of similar discoveries in Pictou and Lunenburg and had one in her own home near Windsor.

Many “sympathetic magic” caches have been found in New England and Australia. But most Nova Scotians who renovate old homes don’t know to look for the artifacts, so they go unrecorded.

4. Lacrosse coach resigns

Mitch Hannigan, Saint Mary’s men’s lacrosse coach, has resigned after retweeting an offensive image, the Canadian Press reports.

5. Coke bust

Lay off that whiskey and let that cocaine be.

6. Cape Breton city hall locked up

The terrorists have won.


Views

1. Hungry bowls

Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald reminds us that Hungry Bowls, a promotional event for students in the Ceramics program at NSCAD, is Thursday. “The simple concept is you choose a handmade bowl that catches your fancy from a big table of bowls.  Then you choose a soup provided by a  number of fine Halifax restaurants. And when you are through eating  you and the bowl go home.” But then of course he shows us a couple of weird and interesting things he’s discovered at past events.

2. Wong Watch

Wong recounts being sexually molested at age five by a babysitter and as a teenager by a doctor, and how, in her 40s, an editor touched her sexually while discussing a possible assignment. “Unlike any other crime,” she concludes, “silence is the co-conspirator of sexual assault. But now, thanks to some dogged investigative reporters and a few brave women, we’re no longer mute.”


Government

City

No public meetings.

The city has budgeted just over a million dollars for the last stage of renovations at City Hall, which focus on the interior. A tender was issued this morning looking for a firm to make substantial upgrades, as follows:

Level 1

General
Corridor new flooring—wood border, carpet field
Corridor new lighting —replace existing ceiling lights with new
Washrooms (2)—new fixtures, materials, finishes

Level 2

General
Corridor new flooring—wood border, carpet field
Corridor new lighting —replace existing ceiling lights with new

Trophy Room
Demolitions, as required and removal of existing vault
Flooring—new solid wood
Walls—patch repair
Ceiling—patch repair
Wood trim—replace as required
Mechanical—new fan coil unit connect to existing chiller, new controls, ventilation
Electrical—new data, new ceiling lighting, cable TV, power
Audio visual—O/H projector, LCD screen, floor data/power

Halifax Hall kitchen
New kitchen servery
Electrical—new power/data
Mechanical —new fan coil unit, exhaust
Audio visual—O/H projector, LCD screen

Level 3

General
Corridor new flooring – wood border, carpet field
Corridor new lighting – replace existing ceiling lights with new

Level 4

Demolitions as required
New partitions, to approved design
Flooring—new solid wood
Walls – patch repair
Wood trim
Ceiling—patch repair
Mechanical—new fan coil units connect to Electrical – new data, new ceiling lighting, cable TV, power
Audio visual – O/H projector, LCD screen .10 Security cameras

Stair – level 1 to level 4

General
Stair flooring—new wood border, carpet field to level with new Corridor flooring .2 Stair structural—reinforcement required to correct structural issues

A substantial job, to be sure. Notice anything missing? It’s hard to add up how much we’ve spent on City Hall renovations so far, but this project brings the total price tag to at least $4 million. It might be closer to $5 million. And still no accessible door. People who use wheelchairs or can’t open the heavy doors at the entrance of City Hall must go to the Argyle Street side door, press a button, and wait for a guard to open the door for them. This has got to change. We can not allow our foremost public building to be inaccessible to citizens.

Province

Standing Committee on Community Services (9am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—the witness is Brian Aird, Executive Director of the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network.

Legislature sits (1pm-midnight, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

Thesis defence, Psychology & Neuroscience (10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building)—PhD candidate Marcus Judois will defend his thesis, “Subtyping the Behavioural Effects of Deceit and the Implications for Detecting Deception.”

IM Public Lecture (1pm, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building, Room 3089)—Kevin Absillis, from the University of Antwerp, explains his talk like this:

It is remarkable that all major early modern utopias – from Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), to Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1624) and Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun (1623) – explicitly pay tribute to the invention of the printing press. At least as remarkable is the fact that in 20th century dystopic fiction the destruction of books and the decline of the printing press are a crucial part of the nightmare they represent. One immediately thinks of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948), Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and, perhaps, of E.M. Forster’s short story ‘The Machine Stops’ (1909). This very motive is also taken up in a fair number of movies, e.g. Rollerball (1975, dir. N. Jewison), Minority Report (2002, dir. S. Spielberg), Equilibrium (2002, dir. K. Wimmer), V for Vendetta (2006, dir. J. McTeigh), The Book of Eli (2010, dir. Hughes Brothers). In my talk I will investigate this topical relationship between the printing press/books! and utopian fiction in order to assess a by no means purely ‘fictitious’ fear that our so-called Gutenberg Galaxy is currently coming to an end.

David Quammen: The Next Big One (CANCELLED, 7:30pm, Ondaatje Hall, McCain Building)—If you want to worry about stuff, David Quamman is your man. He’s the journalist of the apocalypse. Says Dal:

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has made for lurid, saddening headlines this year, and reports from the region have grown only more alarming in recent months.  Last year, evoking quieter but no less serious concern, it was the MERS virus coming out of Saudi Arabia. Before that, we heard about bird flu and West Nile and Hanta and SARS and a steady drumbeat of scary new viruses, emerging suddenly to cause misery, death, and in some cases epidemics of global concern.  But emerging—from where?  These new viruses share one thing in common: They are all zoonoses, meaning animal infections that sometimes spill over into humans.  In which animals do they live their secret lives?  Why do they sometimes cross into humans?  And what are the chances that the next one, or the one after, will cause a global pandemic?

NOTE: This morning I received the following email:

The lecture by David Quammen (“The Next Big One: Ebola, Mers and the New Age of Emerging Viruses”) which was scheduled for Tuesday, 4 November has been POSTPONED.

David Quammen has been unexpectedly and urgently called back to Africa, on assignment to National Geographic, to cover a story involving the ultimate origins of the current Ebola epidemic.  

This talk will be RESCHEDULED and notice will be given in the regular newsletter.

Wednesday

Naked Lunch (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—the 1991 David Cronenberg film adapted from the Burroughs novel.

King’s College

Holocaust Education Week: Film: A People Uncounted (Tuesday, 7pm, Alumni, Hall)—”A People Uncounted tells the story of the Roma, commonly referred to as Gypsies – a people who have been both romanticized and vilified in popular culture.” A reception after.

Saint Mary’s

Norman Finkelstein (Tuesday, 7:30pm, McNally Theatre Auditorium)—Finkelstein is the son of Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide, author of nine books, including Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End; What Gandhi Says: About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage; This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the [2009] Gaza Invasion; and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. The title of his talk is “Israel and Palestine: What Has Changed after Gaza 2014?”


Noticed

Anna Maria Tremonti

I don’t know that I have anything new to the discussion around Jian Ghomeshi, but would like to point out one thing that maybe has gotten lost in this: Ghomeshi wasn’t a journalist. He was a reader. A very good reader, but a reader nonetheless. Producers found his guests, writers scripted the show, Ghomeshi read. This became painfully obvious whenever there was a guest host for Q, I’d listen, and the guest hosts’ phrasing, even their cadence, were exactly the same as Ghomeshi’s. It’s even the case now, post-Ghomeshi. I listened in for a bit Monday, and Piya Chattopadhay had exactly Ghomeshi’s voice, demonstrating that Q was, and remains, a highly scripted and produced show.

Workers remove a giant photo of Jian Ghomeshi from the CBC’s Toronto offices. Photo: CBC

Ghomeshi’s handlers—the “Q team”—have been praised, but I think the over-produced nature of the show highlights not their talent, but Ghomeshi’s weaknesses. The show had to be so controlled because the host couldn’t go off-script or ad lib.

Besides all the other demonstrable and disturbing aspects of sexism in this story, there’s the fact that Ghomeshi became the CBC’s foremost star, the “hot property,” the “face of the network,” his visage plastered on the column at the CBC office in downtown Toronto.

But while Ghomeshi had an appeal, his audience was never anywhere near as large as The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti, who is a true journalist, with vast experience, impeccable credentials, and a quick-on-her-feet interviewing style. I know, because she’s interviewed me. I can’t always listen to her show, but I download as many podcasts of it as I have time for, and it helps keep me informed like no other news show has. Here’s her bio note:

Tremonti is a former foreign correspondent and war correspondent who spent close to a decade posted in Berlin, London, Jerusalem, and Washington. Her coverage of major international stories includes the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the war in Bosnia, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and the politics of the United States, Europe, and the Arab world. She also boasts extensive experience covering Canadian federal and provincial politics.

In short, Jian Ghomeshi is no Anna Maria Tremonti.

And yet, Ghomeshi was the star, not Tremonti. There’s a deep, and fundamental, sexism in that calculation.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 6am Tuesday. All the oil tankers (red ships) in transit and at the refinery at Saint John may be suggestive of the current turmoil in world oil markets. Map: marinetraffic.com

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

Arrivals

Mignon, vehicle carrier, Southampton, England to Autoport
Oceanex Sanderling, con-ro, St. John’s to Pier 36
Barkald, bulker, Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania to National Gypsum

Departures

Mignon for New York
Clipper Helvetia to sea


Footnotes

A few articles, from myself and from freelancers, are in the works.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. RE Ghomeshi:

    As ‘Private Eye’ used to refer to them (TV and Radio ‘hosts’) – as ‘bingo callers’

    About right for the script and monitor readers of material they did not write or research!

    Iain T.

  2. I’m not surprised that an educational program funded by the Chinese government doesn’t mention their abuses. I’m surprised this is news worthy, the victors rewrite history as they say. I wonder what they learn in MBA programs about clothing sweatshops.

  3. The ultimate cause of emerging zoonoses is destruction of habitat. Humans encroach further and further into wild areas and come into increasing contact with more species of wildlife. Some species of wildlife serve as ‘reservoirs’ for the virus, meaning they can harbour it without harm to themselves. In the past, outbreaks were small and isolated and burned themselves out, so to speak, relatively quickly. Now as human settlement encroaches into formerly wild areas, people come into contact with more wild species and infected people travel more, spreading the disease more widely.

  4. “In short, Jian Ghomeshi is no Anna Maria Tremonti.” “Ghomeshi wasn’t a journalist. He was a reader.”

    On balance, I like to have my news delivered with the bare facts, in an interesting way. As I commented to my daughter this morning, “I find CNN more bent towards drama and I therefore don’t rely on the accuracy of the news they’re reporting on.”

    I rely on the news you report Tim. I have even laughed out loud at some stories!

  5. Tim:

    I think you’re being a bit too hard on Jian Ghomeshi. I’d say his two main strengths lay in his interviewing and presentation skills. While it’s true that the show’s team did much of the writing and research, live, on-air interviewing requires listening skills, the ability to relate to the interviewee and the presence of mind to improvise follow-up questions on the fly. Live interviewing is extremely hard work partly because the interviewer must work within fairly strict time limits, yet still get the “story”. (CBC tells its journalists that interviewing is another way of telling a story.)

    I would say that Ghomeshi’s interviewing skills were remarkable. He did not ask predictable questions, but brought a unique, personal touch to his work.

    As I see it, what the present Ghomeshi mess illustrates is the problem of what I call “host-driven” radio which had its birth during the early 1970s in the CBC Radio Revolution. Peter Gzowski and Barbara Frum were among the first “star” hosts. While host-driven radio does build audiences, its fortunes rise or fall with the fortunes of the star interviewer who soon becomes more important than his or her team of producers and researchers.

    As It Happens took a long time to recover when Frum leapt to TV. And, after Gzowski’s departure, CBC felt it had to abandon the three-hour blended format of current affairs and culture that had worked so well for decades.

    The main reason that Anna Maria Tremonte is not a megastar is the format of The Current. She’s stuck doing the hard-edged stuff and unlike As It Happens, which also includes quirky, humorous material, there’s little opportunity for her to relate to her listeners in more personal ways.

    In many ways that’s a good thing because the main focus is on the story rather than the star, but I do miss the more relaxed three-hour format that allowed producers to explore an incredibly wide range of stories without the artificial and arbitrary division between “hard” and “soft” or “current affairs” and “culture.”

    I’d like to see CBC Radio restore the 9 to noon format, but with a roster of three interesting hosts rather than betting everything on one main “star.”

    1. Unfortunately Anna Maria Tremonte has an irritating manner in the way she responds to some answers. And she can be quite rude.
      am saddened to learn how phony Jian was. CBC let us believe he was this sincere person and now we learn he didn’t write any of his material nor credit those who did.

  6. Thanks for another excellent Examiner, Tim. I’m appalled about the lack of accessibility generally speaking in Halifax, but it is totally unacceptable to have Province House inaccessible. Am going to see about this. Perhaps the Premier is too busy sending money to Annapolis Royal for the extra cost a door would require…
    Here in Dartmouth, only one store is accessible on Portland St, and when I asked one store owner with a disabled employee why this was so, I was told the city wouldn’t allow the addition of ramps to the front doors. So I guess we folks requiring assistance to walk will just have to shop online and then everyone will wail about how we aren’t supporting local. Sigh.
    Bonus points about Anna Maria Tremonti. Bravo.

    1. Province House’s “accessible” entrance behind the building, on the Granville Street side, but one level down because of the hill. I’m not as familiar with Province House as I am with City Hall, but I recall there, too, people using wheelchairs have to buzz a guard to be let in. Assuming they can find the entrance in the first place. It’s quite hidden.