July-Eyesore

News

1. Loretta Saunders murder

The preliminary hearing in the Loretta Saunders murder trial has begun, but there’s a publication ban on evidence presented at the trial, which leaves reporters in a difficult situation. There’s not much to actually report on, besides the sad reaction of Saunders’ family to the evidence presented. The trial is being heard by Judge Anne Derrick, who made her reputation as a defence lawyer, most notably in the Donald Marshall, Jr. case.

2. Pride Week

Metro has broad coverage of events, including interviews with a gay cop and a gay politician, an article looking at what more needs to be done on the gay rights front, and another about the ban on blood donations from gay men.

3. Air travel becomes even more annoying

Stanfield International long ago did away with ticket clerks. Well, they’re there, they just don’t help you, unless you play stupid and screw up at the ticket-dispensing machine. Now, the airport is bragging that it is the first in North America to make travellers lug their baggage to the conveyor belts. I took someone to the airport a few weeks ago and the belt was getting clogged up, with lines a dozen deep, and people fearing missing their flights, but they say all the kinks are worked out and the system is fully operational now. Oh joy.

Asked if the self-bagging cuts jobs, here’s what Michael Healy, the airport’s vice-president of infrastructure and commercial development, told the CBC: “Well my understanding from talking to airlines is that their staffing levels haven’t changed much. The agents are assisting the passengers with the process more so than sitting behind desks. So similar staffing levels I understand.” This, folks, is first class, Grade A bullshit. Healy knows it, the reporter knows it, I know it, you know it—utter bullshit. The entire point of this self-service crap, at the cost of $45 million (!), is to cut the payroll. So Healy wins today’s Bullshitter of the Day award, which I’ve created just this very second, because that’s one special load of bullshit that needs to be especially acknowledged.

Look, at its best, air travel amounts to getting crammed into a metal tube for three hours with your knees in your chest. Then there are the frustrating delays, senseless bureaucratic dictates, pointless security theatre based on the supposition that you are a criminal, that asshole next to you taking charge of the armrest, some shitty movie marketed for prepubescents, eight bucks (cash only) for thumbnail sized drinks, turbulence from hell, a line to squeeze into a filthy toilet, racing for connecting flights positioned to be most inconveniently located in the terminal, and passengers actually applauding because the plane lands without bursting into a fireball. Is it really too much to ask for some human contact somewhere along the way? Someone paid to be nice and helpful? You get better service from the greaser crackhead dude who impounds your car on a snow night, which tells you something about what the airlines think of you.

To serve you better: put your own damn bags on the belt.

4. Port tonnage declines

There’s been a drop of 15 percent in cargo from the same period last year. Remember when the mucky mucks were touting Halifax as the “Atlantic Gateway”? Mostly that was just empty rhetoric to justify spending on infrastructure projects, but there seems to be a common misunderstanding that our port is best placed because it is closest to Europe. Actually, tho, for shippers wanting to reach the middle American market, just the opposite is true: Halifax is badly positioned for that trade.

5. The animals among us

Mister Bear arrested for not wearing a leash in an off-leash park. Seems like a miscarriage of justice.

And White Nose syndrome is decimating bat populations; you can help by reporting the bats, so some protection can be given to surviving populations.


Views

1. Wong watch

Vapid subject matter? Check: fingernails. International travel? Check: Vietnam. Insulting Maritimers? Ch…wait…where are the insults of Maritimers???


Government

City

City council (10am, City Hall)—Here’s the Halifax Examiner’s preview of the meeting. That article is behind the paywall; you can subscribe here. I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the new Halifax Examiner twitter account, @hfxExaminer.

Province

No public meetings.


Daily Plug

James Kunstler’s 1993 book, The Geography of Nowhere, was a manifesto against the car culture that had come to dominate the American landscape. The book is a piercing indictment of the entire architectural profession, which Kunstler said had come to mock the people it is supposed to serve, and indeed humanity itself. The Geography of Nowhere is in large part responsible for the success of the New Urbanism movement that now dominates planning circles, and if Kunstler had never written another word, he’d be one of our most important writers.

But for better and worse, Kunstler has written a lot more words. He’s brilliant in the crazy mad scientist way, and you never know if he’s next going to say something profound or ridiculous. On the ridiculous front, consider his never-ending tirade against blue jeans. For the profound, his ongoing examination of the perversity of American culture, which he chronicles in his Clusterfuck Nation blog, might qualify, except for when he crosses the borderline and falls full-in to racism, especially when it comes to Arabs, which is often (his non-nuanced view of the present bloodbath in Gaza is sadly typical).

Somewhere in the middle, however, between the ridiculous and profound, falls his Eyesore of The Month, a regular look at what he considers ridiculous architecture. Agree with him or not, the feature is always thought-provoking.

This month Kunstler’s Eyesore is none other than the 22 Commerce Square development proposal in Halifax:

Behold the proposed new addition to the suite of glass boxes on Granville Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia. O Canada! Are you trying to out-do the stupidity and vulgarity of your neighbor to the south? Apart from the obvious perversity of cantilevering over the  historic Province House — an early legislative building — note the sheer dazzling hideousness of the first nine stories with their  Darth Vadar style bays. Someone, please call a witch-doctor or an exorcist. Nothing else will avail in this shameless age.

Kunstler gets the historic building wrong; it is not a government building but rather the 1906 Bank of Commerce building. Still, whatever you think of Kunstler, his monthly pronouncement has put Halifax on the map, as they say. That’s the goal, right?


In the harbour

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

Arrivals

Lady Clarissa, bulker, Savannah to anchor for bunkers
Clodomira, bulker, La Have, France to anchor for AGM inspection
Oceanex Sanderling, con-ro, St. John’s to Pier 41

Departures

Clodomira to Freeport, Bahamas
Mainport Pine, research/survey vessel, to BP Exploration Area

Of note:

Reports are the Nato Standing Maritime Force 2 is due in Halifax. They
will be conducting exercises off the Atlantic coast before returning
to the Mediterranean in September.


Footnotes

It was my friend Marc Graf who turned me onto The Geography of Nowhere, soon after I moved to Halifax. Marc is one-half of the Graf Brothers in Clare. There isn’t another half.

Tim Bousquet

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

Join the Conversation

10 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. 45 Million Dollars?! The airport already sits on roughly 285 mio dollars of long term debt (partly thanks to the federal government) and a couple of millions of deficit in the pension plan. 45 Million Dollars on a new check-in system? Wow.

    2013, the number of passengers at the airport shrank to 3.585.864, about half of which arrive, so they don’t use any check-in. Another group is just changing planes = no check-in. Again another group travels directly to the US. They use the check-in system upstairs. Deduct a few more for private aviation, military, VIP, helicopters, etc. And then we have a substantial group of travellers that do not check-in any luggage just because.

    Now you can guesstimate how much you are being charged (plus interest, plus tax) for the privilege of being amongst the first people in North America to heave and tag your luggage yourself. It is called the Airport Improvement Fee and it is charged with any ticket with a departure from Halifax. Last year, this fee was raised by 25% to $28.75 (incl HST).

    As a side effect, there will be no more leniency for slightly overweight luggage.

  2. Hi Tim. Is it possible to add a section titled tomorrow’s meetings to the morning files? Its often later in the day before I get a chance to read, and knowing the night before might make attendance at any meeting I find interesting more possible the following day.

    1. Tina, I’m a bit afraid I’ll confuse readers by posting events for multiple days, but I’ll compromise and highlight the more significant meetings that are coming up, k?

  3. I am with Kunstler, the 22 Commerce Square development is world-class ugly. Along with the mass-money-pit convention centre, we are now fully into the free market of stupid.

  4. TIANS just shared the no service airport story on Facebook as if it is an innovation… Why would TIANS not be concerned about the last memory of Halifax for a family of 5 being on of struggling to figure out how to get yourselves on the plane and your bags checked with no assistance at all. That is one tourist friendly airport…..

    1. Completely agree. And what about anyone who is not in tip top shape or in prime of youth struggling to manage even moderate sized luggage alone?

  5. On the up side, the more uncomfortable air travel, the better the chance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even the “Lonely Planet” cautions readers to think about what they are doing before they fly. In Europe greenhouse gas emissions from air travel increased by almost 90% between 1990 and 2006. Jets, which fly in the stratosphere, produce more emissions than turboprops. The carbon footprints of business class and first class passengers are three to nine-times higher than those in economy class. About 60% of emissions arise from international flights and aren’t covered by the Kyoto Protocol. Oh, and we are talking mostly about civil aviation here. (Check out Wikepedia for sources.)

  6. Bullshitter of Day is a great idea. I couldn’t believe that statement about staffing levels staying the same, but on the other hand that sort of utter bullshit has become de rigueur. Perhaps if these PR flaks saw some consequences for lying, they might think twice about it. And maybe reporters would quit reporting it as gospel, or even check to see if it was true or not before putting it in their articles.

    Maybe.

  7. Not impressed by the required automated check-in at the airport. We pay enough for air travel, I don’t care if you can automate it, they’ve removed customer service. Now they have a person or two making you feel like an idiot if you can’t figure out their check-in machine. That’s not service.

    Though I’m not a fan of South Park, it is worth mentioning an episode that aired in 2001 that I happened upon many years ago. The Entity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Entity_(South_Park) Mr. Garrison invents the gyroscope-powered monowheel “IT”. This method of transportation was highly painful but people continually state “Hey, It’s better than air travel” during the episode.

    1. I too am unimpressed by this developing non-service juggernaut. Because of broken limb this winter had to go to QEII a few times, and there is strong encouragement there to register yourself when you report for your appointment. It’s a HOSPITAL for heaven’s sake, why would it even cross anyone’s mind that self-check in is a good idea?