In the harbour
1. Teachers to hold strike vote
“The Nova Scotia Teachers Union will hold a strike vote on Oct. 25, the union said Tuesday,” reports Jon Tattrie for the CBC.
2. Fenwick Tower
“Work has been stopped at the Fenwick Tower construction site after debris fell from the building in Monday’s storm,” reports Haley Ryan for Metro:
Occupational Health and Safety officers conducted an on-site inspection of the Templeton Properties building Tuesday, Labour department spokeswoman Lisa Jarrett said in an email, and “five orders were issued around scaffolding.”
Jarrett said the orders will ensure “the scaffolding in question meets the regulations and that there is no risk to public safety.”
Work has been stopped at the site, and will only resume once a part of the scaffold system has been certified by an engineer, Jarrett said.
3. Gun in the ER
“The president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union was reeling when she learned from the media that an armed man had walked into the emergency room at Middleton’s Soldiers Memorial Hospital one week ago, putting staff and patients at risk,” reports Sherri Borden Colley for the CBC:
Janet Hazelton is concerned that neither the Nova Scotia Health Authority nor the Department of Health and Wellness notified the union about the incident.
RCMP arrested a man at the hospital for causing a disturbance and possessing weapons.
The 60-year-old Kings County man is facing three gun-related charges. He will appear in Digby provincial court on Nov. 3.
Besides that, I notice former Metro reporter Kristen Lipscombe has gone over to the dark side and is now a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
4. Pedestrian struck
A Halifax police release from yesterday:
Halifax Regional Police responded to a vehicle/pedestrian collision this morning in Dartmouth.
At 8:42 a.m. on October 11, police responded to the intersection of Princess Margaret Boulevard and Ryan Gate in relation to a vehicle/pedestrian collision. A 25-year-old woman was reported to have been struck in a marked crosswalk by a car that was turning left onto Princess Margaret Boulevard from Ryan Gate. The woman was transported to the hospital with what were believed to be non-life-threatening injuries.
The 21-year-old female driver was issued a ticket under the Motor Vehicle Act for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
5. Space and whales
The Canadian Space Agency is looking for a “Manipulator universal robot“:
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) requires one (1) light robotic manipulator arm. This arm will be integrated to one or multiple mobile platforms (rovers) to allow contact instruments (e.g. microscope) to be deployed and positioned, as well as enable various manipulation tasks (e.g. sample capture) to be conducted.
That’s the tender offer from today that might get some press, but more interesting to me is the offer for “Autonomous Acoustic Recorders” which will “effectively record acoustic data spanning the frequency range of 10 Hz to 160 KHz, thereby allowing for the capture of acoustic signals of all cetacean species of interest (including 19 Hz blue whale calls to 130 KHz harbor porpoise clicks).” This is a sole-source contract to be awarded to JASCO Applied Sciences in Burnside, at a cost of between $100,000 and $150,000.
Speaking of cetaceans, I went to Lori Marino’s talk on “The Challenge of Dolphin and Whale Brains” at Dal yesterday. Despite being interrupted mid-talk by a fire alarm (there were at least three fire alarms at Dal yesterday), Marino was spirited and engaging. She was speaking primarily to researchers at the Brain Repair Centre, but it was an accessible talk that even brain-challenged reporters could follow.
The short of it is that there are similarities and differences between the brains of humans and cetaceans. Humans have a “encephalization quotient” (ratio of brain size to body size) of 7, which compares to a house cat’s EQ of 1. The other great apes — chimps, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans — have EQs in the range of 3-5, while some whales and dolphins have an EQ of 5 or 6.
The big difference in the brains between great apes (including people) and cetaceans, however, is in how they operate. If I understood it correctly, sensory information is distributed in the brain via entirely different networks. Moreover, both humans and cetaceans have a brain structure called Insula, which handles self-awareness, social emotions, and motor control, but that area in dolphins is much more highly developed than its human counterpart.
Really it’s all a big mystery what the heck is going on in those brains.
Marino’s giving a public talk on Thursday, but I don’t think I can make it.
It’s my hope to one day have a reporter who covers academic talks and other university goings-on. It takes money to do that however. Please subscribe.
1. Birth of a Nation
“In the Saturday, October 1st edition of the Halifax Examiner, writer and activist El Jones quotes an academic paper by Greg Marquis on whether D. W. Griffith’s epic motion picture The Birth Of A Nation ever played in Nova Scotia,” writes Ron Foley Macdonald:
Marquis asserts that through researching Nova Scotian newspapers of the time (1915 and 1916) he discovered that The Birth Of A Nation didn’t play in the province in those years. An interesting assertion indeed. Having taught a film history course at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in association with the National Film Board of Canada for a decade and a half, I had access to information that disproves Marquis’ claim.
According to my sources, which mostly are gleaned from oral history, Griffith’s notoriously racist film played at the Neptune Theatre site, then called the Strand Theatre. Admission was an extraordinary two dollars, when regular admission to film shows in Halifax was regularly only a nickle. Special trains were run up from Yarmouth for showings of the film in Halifax.
2. Solar power
“Solar power cheaper than NSPI,” claims Bill Turpin, who goes on to make some back-of-the-envelope calculations that include the costs of installing photovoltaic panels, the potential electrical generation from them, interest rates, and the possible returns through net metering. He concludes:
Has Turpin Labs done this? No, because we’re [r]eluctant to take on new debt in the Lab’s development, despite the rock-solid logic of the proposition. It’s just psychology. This is where a rebate from, say, Efficiency Nova Scotia, could make a difference in combatting climate change.
Turpin seems unaware of Halifax’s Solar City program, which provides the upfront capital costs of installing a PV system (as well as solar air solar water heating systems), which are paid off through an add-on to the property tax bill over ten years at 4.75 per cent interest.
I don’t know that Turpin’s math completely works out, but certainly the costs of solar are plummeting. Early adapters and those most concerned with reducing their greenhouse gas emissions (we should all be concerned about this) should check out the opportunities. And the systems are easily upgraded as even more efficient panels become available.
An unnamed resource teacher explains why teachers are are “frustrated and demoralized“:
My days are spent scrambling to see as many children as possible to help them meet the provincial curriculum outcomes or individual program goals. I have 15/100 students on IPP and another 35 on adaptations. Our school results on provincially mandated standardized assessments are consistently well below the average and yet I know our classroom teachers work at least as hard as I do. I also know how hard our kids and families work. So what is wrong you may ask? Teachers are prevented from actually teaching because of all the non-teaching jobs that have been deemed essential by school board and Department of Education administrators.
This fall all the Gr.1 and 2 students were mandated to be assessed …one-on-one in literacy and math respectively. Teachers were not able to teach while they were assessing individuals. In addition all the Gr.3 and 4 students were also given standardized assessments. While they were assessed I supervised the Gr.2s in my resource room while also teaching my groups and supporting students’ behaviour programs.
All of this required hours of teacher prep and or inputting of data onto the provincial electronic systems. Prior to doing the assessments teachers were also required to develop and upload adaptation documents for students who required them.
The “experts” tell us that all of this data collection and corresponding “school success plans” will ensure that our students receive a better education. As professionals, we aren’t buying it. We know it serves best the businesses who produce the next new and improved program for literacy or math. We know that the best thing for our kids is more time with a caring rested teacher who is able to teach without constant fear that some bean counter is going to decide that something else needs to happen.
4. Frances Fish
Dorothy Grant celebrates Frances Fish, the first female lawyer in Nova Scotia:
She applied and was accepted at Dalhousie University’s male-dominated law school.
Once there, she excelled in most of her classes and earned her LLB in 1918.
No doubt, one of the most unforgettable moments throughout her studies at Dalhousie happened during the Halifax Explosion. According to her family’s memories, Fish had been standing on the steps of the university’s library at the exact moment of the first blast. She was knocked unconscious and when she recovered, she discovered the severed head of a victim hanging onto one of her legs.
After graduating, Fish did not remain long in Halifax, although for a short time she was associated with two law firms. It seems she was disappointed that she hadn’t been offered a partnership. It is also believed her decision to leave might have had something to do with a broken engagement. This may have been the case because she was determined to become a respected, credible lawyer. Unfortunately, at the time, female lawyers who married could not remain in practice.
5. Cranky letter of the day
Please folks, drive in less of a hurry in the mornings. If you left home just five minutes earlier you could drive more sensibly. You frighten me and others (many of them).
Everyone says it’s the young ladies who speed. Well girls, let’s prove them wrong, OK?
Also I’d like to thank a young gentleman who was in the Eastside Restaurant on Sept. 30: he treated me and three other ladies to a free meal. Thank you.
J.E. (Betty) MacKay, Mount William
No public meetings.
Public Accounts (10am, Province House) — Auditor General Michael Pickup will be asked about his latest financial report.
Intellectual Property Tools (8am, Weather Watch Room, fifth floor Dickson Building, VG Site, QEII) — Catherine Vardy of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office will talk about “trademarks, trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and industrial design, and how best to protect your brand and your innovations.”
Bring your own innovation.
Hike (2pm, 718 Point Pleasant Drive) — a three-kilometre walk through Point Pleasant Park with Dalhousie Transportation Collaboratory (DalTRAC).
Enzymes (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — PhD candidate Gregory McCluskey will speak on “Inter-Domain Coordination within the Multi-Substrate Enzyme CTP Synthase.”
King Lear (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Andrew McCullough’s 1953 TV film starring Orson Welles.
The Rimers of Eldritch (7:30pm, David Mack. Murray Theatre)
Iran (7pm, Room 1016, Kenneth Rowe Management Building) — Naghmeh Sohrabi, from Brandeis University, will speak on “15 Months Later: Iran and the Nuclear Deal.”
Politics and Sex (1pm, Library Room LI135) — Edna Keeble will discuss her new book, Politics and Sex: Exploring the Connections between Gender, Sexuality, and the State.
In the harbour
4am: Berlin Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
5:15am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
7am: Victory 1, chartered yacht, arrives at Pier 24 from Port Hawkesbury
7:15am: Pearl Mist, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 23 from Pictou
7:30am: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from New York with up to 1,254 passengers
3:30pm: Disney Magic, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Saint John
3:30pm: Pearl Mist, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Eastport, Maine
3:30pm: Victory 1, chartered yacht, sails from Pier 24 for sea
3:30pm: Zuiderdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
4pm: Theban, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
9pm: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
6am: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Valencia, Spain
8am: NYK Daedalus, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Rotterdam
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
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Betty wrote a very kind, cranky letter. ????
RE: Birth of Nation screenings in Nova Scotia:
I would like to give credit to Greg Canning, who defended his dissertation at Dalhousie in 2015 titled “‘A Good Show, in a Good House, to a Good Audience’: Early Film Exhibition in the Maritime Provinces, 1896-1919” (I was Greg’s thesis supervisor).
Greg has done extensive research through textual records and has determined that the film played in Pictou and New Glasgow, but not in Halifax until 1918.
Thank you Ron Foley Macdonald for this history! When I went looking I expected that to be the case but couldn’t find anything. Thank you for writing this history!
There is a big problem with the current Solar its PV program, in that if I want to grid-tie, NSP gets to limit the size of the system I install, and from what I understand, they keep the systems very small. Other issues include the amount NSP pays the owners of the systems, and a cap on the amount that can be payed out. NSP pays the going rate and stops paying when you break even on your usage, which eliminates any opportunity to pay off the system faster by generating more power.
In Seattle, for example, they pay out 4x the going rate for “green” sourced energy, and there is no limit on system size or cap on production. NSP is directly limiting the amount of power potentially being generated by residential rooftop systems, and they’ve created a barrier to entry (either let them limit your system or invest in expensive battery-based storage). I don’t know why more people aren’t disturbed by policies like this, it seems like we should be getting off coal and oil by any and all means available. I also don’t know what NSP is scared of, like I’m going to put them out of business with a rooftop PV system.
If you are into solar to combat climate change just go off grid and be the change you want to be.
If you are into solar to make money and make a statement that is OK.
The present arrangement is fine by me.
I would be happy if the province introduced power rationing by implementing a basic amount of power per person/household and if you want a TV in every room and lights blazing you will pay more per kwh.
Energy hogs need to be charged for wasting power.
On your comment about having dedicated coverage for academics:
There is a tremendous amount of news which comes from the science and academic community here in Metro. Far more than most other regions of the country. This for the most part is ignored by media.
Back in the days when the Herald was a real newspaper, they had pretty good coverage from the University world. They even had a reporter “embedded” in the med school and a real Science editor.
I applaud your vision to have a dedicated person to do just that sort or reportage. They will become busy beyond belief and open the doors on an amazingly fascinating world of new ideas and discovery. Far more enlightening to readers than the self-immolating world of politics and government shenanigans which seem to dominate the news headlines these days.
Lots of info on Frances Fish on Facebook site Miramichi Heritage.