In the harbour
1. Chronicle Herald
There’s continued fallout from the despicable Chronicle Herald article published Saturday.
My critique of that article, “The Chronicle Herald unfairly maligns kids in its attack on refugees,” is now the second-most read article in Examiner history (after DEAD WRONG).
Yesterday, School Board Superintendent Elwin LeRoux issued a statement:
I have spoken directly to Sarah Dennis, the owner of the Chronicle Herald. I told her that the accusations, the language and the tone of the article were both harmful and hurtful to students, staff and the community of Chebucto Heights – and to our entire school system. They’re also not true.
I was struck by LeRoux’s insistence that the allegations in the article were “not true.” I spoke with LeRoux later in the day, and he told me that when he read the Chronicle Herald story he immediately called the principal of Chebucto Heights and asked if any of the accusations made in the article had been brought to school officials. LeRoux was told they had not.
I wanted to be clear about this, so I went through each one of the accusations with LeRoux:
Any reports of chains? No.
Any reports of slicing motions across the throat? No.
Any reports of “Muslims rule the world!” No.
LeRoux said that of course there are conflicts between students in schools, but nothing remotely related to anything “reported” in the Chronicle Herald had been reported by any student or any parent to any school official.
Meanwhile, Jacob Boon at The Coast interviewed one of the scab reporters at the Chronicle Herald. The unnamed reporter told Boon that “[The article] made me feel ashamed to be associated with this newspaper.”
And, of course, into this circus waltzes Faith Goldy of Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media. Goldy has come to town to expose “the truth.”
Last night, I was interviewed on CBC’s As It Happens.
2. Basic income
“’Why I Am Looking Forward to Being 65.’ That was Wayne MacNaughton’s topic at a free conference held Saturday in Halifax’s Central Library.” writes Jennifer Henderson. “It was sponsored by Dalhousie University, Basic Income Nova Scotia, and the Mayor’s Office. More than 100 people turned out to hear the local anti-poverty activist, as well as politicians and advocates for the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee to replace welfare.”
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3. Kristin Johnston
Police announced yesterday that they have arrested a man in the homicide of Kristin Johnston:
Investigators in the Homicide Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have rearrested a 33-year-old Halifax man in connection with the homicide of Kristin Elizabeth Johnston.
At approximately 7:45 a.m. on March 26, Halifax Regional Police responded to an unknown trouble call at a home on Oceanview Drive off Purcells Cove Road. Responding officers located 32-year-old Kristin Johnston deceased inside the residence. A man was arrested at the home, however, he required immediate medical attention and was transported to hospital by EHS. Officers released him from their custody on the afternoon of March 26, pending treatment of his injuries which were described as significant but non-life-threatening.
Investigators rearrested the man without incident at approximately noon today after he was released from the QEII where he had been hospitalized since March 26. The investigation is ongoing.
Presumably a charge will be laid today.
4. Yarmouth ferry
Bay Ferries yesterday announced the rates for the renewed Yarmouth–Portland ferry:
The rates above are in US dollars. This morning the loonie is at about 78 US cents, so were you today to buy a roundtrip ticket for two and a small car, the pricetag would be US$786 or about CD$1,008. Add to that the fuel and time costs of driving to and from Yarmouth, and probably a hotel room in Yarmouth on at least one leg of the journey.
By comparison, through Travelocity this morning I found a roundtrip nonstop WestJet flight for two from Halifax to Boston for the first weekend in July for $845.
Of course, the ferry service isn’t aimed at Haligonians looking to travel south, but rather at Americans wanting to come north or central Canadians wanting to go east, and for them a car trip (as opposed to flying) might well be desirable. A car can give flexibility and the opportunity to travel to multiple locations in the Maritimes. Likely, many tourists will make a loop that includes just one trip on the ferry.
5. Halifax North
Councillor Reg Rankin wants to change the name of District 12 from Timberlea–Beechville–Clayton Park West to Timberlea–Beechville–Clayton Park–Wedgewood.
Just to mess with the people across the harbour, council should change the name of Rankin’s district to “Dartmouth.”
1. Transit plan
“The Moving Forward Together plan goes before council at today’s Committee of the Whole meeting, starting at 10am,” writes Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler. “I’m asking four questions about our new transit plan”:
- Is Halifax Transit missing an opportunity to weigh in on the future of transit in Halifax?
- Are we doing it too slowly?
- Do we have enough frequency to make a transfer-based network work?
- Have we educated ourselves (and our politicians) enough about what transit can do for us?
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2. Lennett Anderson
Robert Devet interviews Lennett Anderson, the pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Upper Hammonds Plains. Anderson helped organize a protest outside the Tantallon Sobeys after the grocery chain appealed a Human Rights Commission ruling stating that Andrella David had been racially profiled at the store. David was held by a security guard at the store and wrongly accused of being a known shoplifter.
As I stood there at the rally that Monday, what was disheartening was the number of stories that people were telling.
We had people from East Preston, from Halifax, from Beechville, Dartmouth, Sackville. And they all wanted me to know that this is not just a Tantallon reality. ‘Have you been to the one on Windsor Street? Have you been to the one on Main Street?’
I just said wow. It just showed how prevalent a truth racial profiling is in our society.
We have people that tell me that they change their address on their resumé because they don’t want it to say Pockwock Road. So we will put down Bedford. Hoping for an opportunity to get into the door.
3. Film industry
Stephen Kimber — whose Metro column now runs on Tuesdays — gives the history of the film tax credit, the destruction of it, and Premier Stephen McNeil’s “my-words-make-it-so Orwellian triple-speak.”
The Government and On Campus sections are compiled by Kathleen Munro.
City Council (10am, Council Chamber, City Hall) — as usual, Tim will be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.
No public meetings.
Timeline of Success of the Honourable Mayann Francis (12:30pm, Conference Room, Dalhousie School of Social Work Mona Campbell Building) — The presentation will outline the many achievements of the former Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. Organizers are calling this a Lunch-and-Learn event — snacks are encouraged!
Future Telephone: Artist Talk by Michael McCormack (7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Michael McCormack will discuss his latest project. Future Telephone stems from his earlier works, including SIGNAL:
I love it when readers point me to articles they think I’ll be interested in — it tells me that I’m engaging with readers, and we have something of a two-way conversation going. So I may not always be able to respond, but feel free to send me whatever.
Recently, dozens of readers have pointed me to the recent article in The Atlantic, in which writer Laura Bliss observes that “innovation is overrated“:
New technologies and their inventors are often celebrated as society’s heroes. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Larry Page: These are all contemporary “innovators” whose “visionary ideas” and “creative leaps” led to “disruptive realities” — that is, if one buys the rhetoric of certain books and novelty-oriented publications.
But those who’ve questioned whether technology really is society’s salve aren’t alone. Lee Vinsel, an assistant professor of science and technology at the Stevens Institute of Technology, wrote a dissertation on innovation and regulation in the early days of the automobile. But lately, he finds that the word “innovation” is overused to the point of meaninglessness—and worse, that it can obfuscate the bleak realities of the status quo. “In a culture where we forget about things like crumbling infrastructure and wage inequality, those narratives about technological change can be really dangerous,” Vinsel says.
Another reader points out that Vinsel has co-authored a much longer piece with his colleague Andrew Russell, also at the Stevens Institute, titled “Hail the maintainers: Capitalism excels at innovation but is failing at maintenance, and for most lives it is maintenance that matters more.”
“At the turn of the millennium, in the world of business and technology, innovation had transformed into an erotic fetish,” write Vinsel and Russell:
Armies of young tech wizards aspired to become disrupters. The ambition to disrupt in pursuit of innovation transcended politics, enlisting liberals and conservatives alike. Conservative politicians could gut government and cut taxes in the name of spurring entrepreneurship, while liberals could create new programmes aimed at fostering research. The idea was vague enough to do nearly anything in its name without feeling the slightest conflict, just as long as you repeated the mantra: INNOVATION!! ENTREPRENEURSHIP!!
A few years later, however, one could detect tremors of dissent. In a biting essay titled ‘Innovation is the New Black’, Michael Bierut, writing in Design Observer in 2005, lamented the ‘mania for innovation, or at least for endlessly repeating the word “innovation”’. Soon, even business publications began to raise the question of inherent worth. In 2006, The Economist noted that Chinese officials had made innovation into a ‘national buzzword’, even as it smugly reported that China’s educational system ‘stresses conformity and does little to foster independent thinking’, and that the Communist Party’s new catchphrases ‘mostly end up fizzling out in puddles of rhetoric’. Later that year, Businessweek warned: ‘Innovation is in grave danger of becoming the latest overused buzzword. We’re doing our part at Businessweek.’ Again in Businessweek, on the last day of 2008, the design critic Bruce Nussbaum returned to the theme, declaring that innovation ‘died in 2008, killed off by overuse, misuse, narrowness, incrementalism and failure to evolve… In the end, “Innovation” proved to be weak as both a tactic and strategy in the face of economic and social turmoil.’
So, of course, eight years after the business press ridiculed it as a meaningless buzzword, the Nova Scotia mucky muck and wannabe classes have embraced “innovation” as the salvation of their pathetic, shattered dreams of being relevant.
But Vinsel and Russell aren’t just ridiculing a meaningless buzzword. Rather, they are making a nuanced argument about the role of technology in society, and are concerned with the morality of inequality. They continue:
Despite recurring fantasies about the end of work or the automation of everything, the central fact of our industrial civilisation is labour, and most of this work falls far outside the realm of innovation. Inventors and innovators are a small slice – perhaps somewhere around one per cent – of this workforce. If gadgets are to be profitable, corporations need people to manufacture, sell, and distribute them. Another important facet of technological labour comes when people actually use a product…
The most unappreciated and undervalued forms of technological labour are also the most ordinary: those who repair and maintain technologies that already exist, that were ‘innovated’ long ago…
We can think of labour that goes into maintenance and repair as the work of themaintainers, those individuals whose work keeps ordinary existence going rather than introducing novel things. Brief reflection demonstrates that the vast majority of human labour, from laundry and trash removal to janitorial work and food preparation, is of this type: upkeep. This realisation has significant implications for gender relations in and around technology.
But, they conclude:
One important topic of conversation is the danger of moving too triumphantly from innovation to maintenance. There is no point in keeping the practice of hero-worship that merely changes the cast of heroes without confronting some of the deeper problems underlying the innovation obsession. One of the most significant problems is the male-dominated culture of technology, manifest in recent embarrassments such as the flagrant misogyny in the ‘#GamerGate’ row a couple of years ago, as well as the persistent pay gap between men and women doing the same work.
There is an urgent need to reckon more squarely and honestly with our machines and ourselves. Ultimately, emphasising maintenance involves moving from buzzwords to values, and from means to ends. In formal economic terms, ‘innovation’ involves the diffusion of new things and practices. The term is completely agnostic about whether these things and practices are good. Crack cocaine, for example, was a highly innovative product in the 1980s, which involved a great deal of entrepreneurship (called ‘dealing’) and generated lots of revenue. Innovation! Entrepreneurship! Perhaps this point is cynical, but it draws our attention to a perverse reality: contemporary discourse treats innovation as a positive value in itself, when it is not.
In the harbour
Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, arrived at Pier 41 this morning from St. John’s; it moves to Autoport at 11:30am
Allise P, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove at 3pm
Liberty Ace, car carrier, Bremerhaven, Germany to Autoport at 11pm
CSL Metis sails from National Gypsum to sea at 10pm
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“despicable Chronicle Herald article published Saturday” Thanks for straightening this out, Tim. I don’t know how the CH plans to sell a newspaper without good investigative journalists.
“Last night, I was interviewed on CBC’s As It Happens”. -‘Can’t seem to find it– OK I found it
Disrupting disrupters innovatively innovating disruptive innovations. ID(iots).
It’s a funny time to be alive.
We have countless numbers of talented people designing apps that aim to do everything from tying your shoes, to loving your kids, to helping your partner find a more interesting partner.
Then there are others who design complex electronic financial instruments that banks use to create enormous piles of (effectively imaginary) wealth, which only becomes real by risking the valuable real-world assets of everyday people.
And let’s not forget all those heroes out there designing mintier toothpastes, deadlier weapons, and literal mountains if cheap crap to fill the dollar stores on every other corner. (Of course we need the cheap crap because the kleptocrats have all the money.)
I often wonder what the world would be like if all the Innovators and Disruptors spent all that human effort on ACTUALLY disrupting the ACTUAL status quo – the one with so much poverty, homelessness, violence, racism, corruption, and on and on and on.
Hmmm… Without reading the piece, let me see if I can guess the answers to Erica Butler’s four questions: yes, yes, no, no?
The Rebel’s version of “The Truth” will no doubt include a cover-up by HRSB along some propaganda about how refugee’s will be rewarded and other students will be punished.
Insightful exploration of “innovation” – thanks!
Surely people in the media in Halifax know who the “reporter” of the awful Chebucto Heights story is. Shouldn’t he or she be called out?
I don’t know who the reporter is. I’ve asked around…
You should look up this Matt Brand guy, if you haven’t heard of him. Maybe he could write a satirical Morning File on Sundays?
About the innovation thing (hope this isn’t long):
It seems like so many of the new big apps were just “innovative” ways to get around existing laws and regulations that exist to protect communities, consumers and workers. Hotel regulations, taxi licensing and insurance regulations weren’t perfect but they existed for a reason. More cynical entrepreneurs tried to get around gambling legislation (and failed: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/sports/texas-attorney-general-deems-daily-fantasy-sports-illegal.html) and even tried to sell public parking spaces (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-rall-monkeyparking-app-sell-parking-spot-20150114-story.html).
There’s also the issue, mentioned in The Atlantic article and in the subsequent paper, that that “innovation” is largely driven by and targeted to one demographic. When those innovators try to pitch products to people outside that demographic, it goes something like the “Pink Parcel” app mentioned in this Guardian piece: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/11/laundry-ninjas-free-market-science
So there is the school’s side of it. The next one to interview is Missy. I think you identified who she might be. I mean how many people named Missy could have kids going to the school? Should be easy enough to find. Assuming Missy is even her real nickname, of course.