News

1. Sable Island fog

Fog surrounds a proposed Visitor Centre on Sable Island Image: Matthew Griffin-Allwood

Paul Withers at CBC recently visited Sable Island where scientists are there for an international study on how to predict fog, which poses a lot of challenges for meteorology. Project leader Joe Fernando of Notre Dame University told Withers they chose Sable Island because it’s one of the foggiest places in the summer.

“It is a quite expensive place to work because of the logistical requirements. But it is the most scientifically promising place to come to study marine fog,” Fernando told CBC News.

The crescent of sand located 300 kilometres offshore from Halifax is at the intersection of major forces in the Atlantic: where the warm Gulf Stream meets the cool Labrador current and close to the continental shelf break where ocean turbulence churns up tiny salt particles that create fog when water droplets form on them.

The interaction of all the atmospheric and oceanic processes involved is not completely understood — one reason fog can be predicted only a few hours in advance, if at all.

“Because fog is such a difficult problem involving all those processes coming together, you have to probe each of the causal factors and then put together the story,” said Fernando.

The two-year study, which is called FATIMA, for Fog and Turbulence Interactions in the Marine Atmosphere, is being funded by United States Office of Naval Research at a cost US$7.5 million.

The story includes a video in which Withers talks a bit about his first visit to the island, saying a visit there was always on his bucket list and is likely on every Nova Scotians’ list, too (it certainly is on mine).

Sara Spike, a cultural historian of rural communities and coasts in Atlantic Canada, researched the cultural history of fog, too. I wrote about her work in this Morning File from September 2020. At the time, Spike wrote this guest editorial about fog for NiCHE, Network in Canadian History and Environment. Spike wrote this about what people thought about fog in Nova Scotia:

In his 1786 Account of the Present State of Nova Scotia, written to assess the prospects of the colony for settlers, Samuel Hollingsworth noted a similar tension between his learned experience of fog in Britain and the fogs he encountered on the other side of the North Atlantic. They are “remarkable for not producing the same disagreeable effects upon the human body, as is observable of fresh water fogs; the influence of the latter often producing the most dangerous diseases, even upon persons that are otherwise healthy, and, to the consumptive or asthmatic, present death. The reason of this difference is, no doubt, to be accounted for, from their different origin; and a particular investigation of the matter is foreign to our purpose.”

Now, how can I get myself booked on a trip to see fog on Sable Island?

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2. Air Canada cuts flights

Photo: Air Canada/Facebook

Air travel is going to get a lot worse in the next couple of months. As David Milstead with the Globe and Mail reported here, Air Canada announced on Wednesday it was cutting 154 flights per day in July and August because of “unprecedented strains” on the airline industry. Those cuts works out to 15% of Air Canada’s regular schedule of about 1,00o flights per day. From the Globe:

“Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care,” chief executive Michael Rousseau said in a message to customers Wednesday night.

“Despite detailed and careful planning, the largest and fastest scale of hiring in our history, as well as investments in aircraft and equipment, it is now clear that Air Canada’s operations too have been disrupted by the industry’s complex and unavoidable challenges.”

The Globe got some more details about those cancellations. Milstead writes:

Three routes from Montreal to Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kelowna will be temporarily suspended. Air Canada will also suspend its route from Toronto to Fort McMurray.

Most of the flights affected are to and from Toronto or Montreal, Air Canada said. “These will be mostly frequency reductions, affecting primarily evening and late-night flights by smaller aircraft, on transborder and domestic routes,” the airline said in an e-mailed statement. “Our international flights are unaffected, with a few timing changes to reduce flying at peak times and even out the customer flow.”

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3. Tax fraud

Photo: Ekaterina Bolovtsova/Pexels 

Mary Campbell at the Cape Breton Spectator has this commentary on the case of the Cape Breton mother and her three daughters, known as the “Housewives in Heels,” who were convicted on 10 counts of fraud and 10 counts of filing false GST claims in February. Last week, the women were sentenced to between two and four years in prison. Campbell writes:

In finding the four guilty, Supreme Court Justice Robin Gogan employed what I have to call—considering we’re talking about a four-year scheme that netted $360,000—hyperbole, terming it:

…a fraud on the Canadian public of staggering proportions.

I think Justice Gogan needs to get out more.

Post-Enron, post-Madoff, post-MCI World and in the midst of the cryptocurrency meltdown, we’re none of us so easily staggered these days. The Housewives didn’t kill anyone, lose anyone’s life savings, purloin anyone’s pension or cost anyone their job. Sure, they were aiming to steal more than $360,000 but their scheme was so transparently stupid it couldn’t stand up to the slightest CRA scrutiny. Short of mailing an actual red flag to the agency, I don’t see how they could more effectively have triggered the investigation they didn’t have a hope of surviving.

As Campbell notes, the women were led out of the courtroom last in handcuffs and shackles, which I agree was a bit too much. And Campbell has some great perspective on all of this noting first how rare jail sentences are for what the CRA calls “tax evasion,” but also how often corporations fall through the CRA’s own cracks. Campbell writes:

Tax evasion is an easy concept to understand as it involves deliberately ignoring the law, but the CRA’s distinctions between aggressive tax avoidance, tax avoidance, tax planning and aggressive tax planning are much harder to grasp:

Tax avoidance and tax planning both involve tax reduction arrangements that may meet the specific wording of the relevant legislation. Effective tax planning occurs when the results of these arrangements are consistent with the intent of the law. When tax planning reduces taxes in a way that is inconsistent with the overall spirit of the law, the arrangements are referred to as tax avoidance. The Canada Revenue Agency’s interpretation of the term “tax avoidance” includes all unacceptable and abusive tax planning. Aggressive tax planning refers to arrangements that “push the limits” of acceptable tax planning.

This notion that respecting the spirit of the law is as important as respecting the letter of the law sounds good, but then you read something like this 2018 Globe and Mail article by Allan Lanthier, a former chair of the Canadian Tax Foundation, and you have to wonder. Lanthier begins with a question:

Are large Canadian corporations bilking us out of billions of tax dollars every year, as commentators sometimes suggest? And if so, how do they get away with it?

Campbell writes how Lanthier answers his own question using two cases recently decided by the Tax Court of Canada. You should read it all.

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.

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4. The Tideline, Episode 85: HIPPOPOSTUMOUS

Katherine Norris with HIPPOPOSTUMOUS.

Here’s the latest episode of The Tideline:

Logan Robins (writer/director/composer) and Katherine Norris (star/composer) of the Unnatural Disaster Theatre Company are on the show this week ahead of their provincial tour of HIPPOPOSTUMOUS, Robins’ musical exploration of invasive species, colonization, environmentalism, and history. Hear how Pablo Escobar’s personal hippos have invaded and are ruining a section of Colombia, why Robins was intrigued to make a show about it, and all the places you can catch it this July. Plus Norris cracks out the banjolele to perform one of the show’s songs. And the new jam from Beauts!

Click here to listen to the show.

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Views

What’s the “one small habit” that keeps a man organized? A wife

Last week over on the ol’ Twitter, a thread from a man sharing his tips on how to be more productive was making the rounds. It was getting lots of traction, but not because the advice this man provided was good, but rather for what he missed on what really keeps his life organized.

Here’s the tweet from Tobi Emonts-Holley, who I’d never heard of until this tweet:

Over the course of several tweets, Emonts-Holley shared how he organizes his weekly schedule. He shared screenshots that showed his calendar broken down into blocks of time with each block including a task he had to complete. He talked about the apps and other tools he uses to keep organized. Most of the tasks were work related, but a few were about family, like going for a family walk, installing his kid’s piano app, or reading a book at story time. Emonts-Holley said he creates this calendar every week and it takes him about 90 minutes. He also schedules in time at the end of the week to reflect on what he accomplished.

I’ve seen these kinds of tweets before, although usually by marketing bros over on LinkedIn where people share all sorts of professional stuff, including how to be more productive (we’re really obsessed with productivity, aren’t we?)

But many, many people pointed out that Emonts-Holley forgot the most important factor that kept his life organized: his wife! It wasn’t until at least nine tweets in that Emonts-Holley even mentioned he had a wife (he never named her). His Twitter bio said, “Showing you how to perform at your peak. Insights on productivity, leadership, and fatherhood. CEO. Father of six.” See, no mention of a wife.

Emonts-Holley got, as they say on Twitter, ratioed. His thread was retweeted and shared and shared (I shared it, too). Commentors were livid. And I don’t blame them. Many moms, including myself, know how invisible work we do means we’re left behind in other ways. There were hundreds of comments telling Emonts-Holley he needs to appropriately credit his wife. Here are a few samples:

Spoiler alert: the wife did all the work related to raising those 6 kids. Love, patience, being there, food, clothes, doctors, school and everything else you can’t even imagine. This self verbal fellatio enjoyer could at least gave her some credit.

I glanced at this & assumed it was a woman. I was disappointed to hear a man thought he was standing on his own two feet, when in fact it’s the tale as old as time: a woman does all the unpaid labor & this allows a man to succeed. He takes sole credit. Thanks wife as “his rock.”

You don’t have 6 kids, your wife does. You have a paying job & your wife does not. Your secret is having a wife to manage your home & family for you, leaving you enough free time to work a full-time job & earn a degree. I did it as a single mom with 3 kids. You’re not special.

This guy is rightly getting ratioed because he doesn’t know his “secret” is having a wife. Makes me think about how often companies hire men with stay-at-home wives. Based on what he describes, we can see his wife is doing ~70% of the work it takes to keep him thriving.

I have 3 PhDs, four CEO positions, I run 300 miles every morning, hit the gym eight times a week, and meditate for 12 hours a day. here’s my SEVEN KEYS TO SUCCESS: 1. my wife wipes my ass.

I know everyone knows his real secret is having a wife, but I have another question since he keeps calling her his rock, what (if anything) has this this man done to foster his wife’s dreams? Because all I see here is how hard she works while he takes credit & I have questions.

The “one small habit” is patriarchy.

Apparently it wasn’t even the first time Emonts-Holley was called out for his tweets. Here’s one from April:

Emonts-Holley apologized for not crediting his wife, he deleted the entire thread, and eventually his Twitter account.

There’s an argument here that shaming someone on Twitter doesn’t really teach a lesson, but it was clear Emonts-Holley touched a nerve that’s been raw for a very long time. Women’s unpaid work is crucial, but almost always undervalued, unappreciated, and often not even recognized at all. Let’s put some numbers to it, shall we? Here’s a bit from UN Women on the unpaid work of women:

From cooking and cleaning, to fetching water and firewood or taking care of children and the elderly, women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men. As a result, they have less time to engage in paid labour, or work longer hours, combining paid and unpaid labour. Women’s unpaid work subsidizes the cost of care that sustains families, supports economies and often fills in for the lack of social services. Yet, it is rarely recognized as “work”. Unpaid care and domestic work is valued to be 10 and 39 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and can contribute more to the economy than the manufacturing, commerce or transportation sectors. With the onslaught of climate change, women’s unpaid work in farming, gathering water and fuel is growing even more.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation lists unpaid work as one of the root causes of gendered poverty in Canada:

More of women’s time is taken up with unpaid work than men. Women spend an average of 3.6 hours or 15% of their day on unpaid domestic and care work compared to the average of 2.4 hours or 10% of the day that men that spend on unpaid work (Statistics Canada, 2019). As a result, many women effectively perform a “second shift” of unpaid work on top of their paid work, and this impacts their earning potential

This study, Women’s Unpaid Work in Canada: Report on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, which was published last year looked at this issue, too.

Invisible and unpaid work in and outside the home are essential to Canadian families, communities and society. Globally, and in Canada, women perform the majority of this work, which is undervalued and under appreciated. Also, women may face different challenges because of their unpaid work responsibilities. For example, women who perform unpaid work may have a double burden of unpaid and paid workloads, lower levels of labour force participation, less economic security, and negative mental and physical health effects.

And this report notes that even women’s PAID work is undervalued and unappreciated and affects particular groups of women in harmful ways:

Not only is women’s unpaid work, including unpaid care work, undervalued, but women’s paid care work is also undervalued and underpaid. Racialized and immigrant women represent a large part of the paid care workforce. In addition, many women who are newcomers to Canada face unique challenges related to unpaid work. For example, the burden of integrating newcomer families into Canada often falls on the women in these families. English and French language abilities may act as barriers to some immigrant and newcomer women’s integration as well as access to services, such as childcare, and employment.

That report included 10 recommendations for federal and provincial governments to address this issue, including acknowledging unpaid work is essential work, the creation of a National Care Economy Commission that would develop and implement a national care strategy, increasing current maternity and parental leave benefits and encouraging more fathers to take parental leave, and establishing the first Tuesday in each April as National Invisible Work Day.

There are already groups working to do something about this. In England, Joeli Brearley started the international charity Pregnant Then Screwed after she was let go via voicemail from her job when she was four months pregnant back in 2015. The charity’s goal is to provide a space where women can share their stories about discrimination and raise awareness about the motherhood penalty women face in the workforce. They offer an advice line for women facing discrimination — they get 3,000 calls a year — and also have training programs for employers on how to best support working parents.

The pandemic, of course, has opened some eyes to what women do for unpaid labour. Over the last two years, many women left their jobs or scaled back on their work to take care of kids, the house, and online learning. In this article from The Guardian, Brearley says she hopes the pandemic opened some eyes about all this unpaid work mothers do:

[Brearley] thinks that there is a lot of anger about the decisions that have been taken during the pandemic and hopes this will force change – at least when the schools reopen and when surviving another day with everyone fed, clothed and maybe even home schooled doesn’t feel like the pinnacle of achievement. “Mothers are livid, going by the women that I speak to. I feel absolutely furious that we’ve not been considered at every stage. We’ve just had enough.”

The reaction to Emonts-Holley’s tweet surely proved we have had enough.

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Noticed: The rise of the service robots

Bella the Robot will bring you your lunch. Screenshot: CTV Atlantic

A restaurant in Bedford has a new staff member, as CTV Atlantic reported this week. Bella is now delivering food dishes to customers at May Garden. Shu Ting Huang, who works at May Garden, had this to say about Bella:

Bella’s job is helping us deliver food to the customers. I love her because it saves a lot of work for us and more efficiency.

Bella, which has a feline-like face and with eyes that blink and wink, is guided through the restaurant via sensors installed on the ceiling that map out a route in the restaurant.

So, I looked up more about Bella and learned this “premium delivery robot” is made by Pudu — Bella’s full name is BellaBot. The commercial that explains how BellaBot works features a young woman in a restaurant asking questions about Bella, how efficient it is, how safe is it (it won’t run over your kid if they bolt from the table), but also if you can interact with it. (“Of course you can! Just stroke it on the head and feel the love!”)

Robots serving in restaurants aren’t even new. The Clay Pot Rice in Calgary has been using a robot for food deliveries for a couple of years. Earlier this year, a restaurant in Winnipeg started using a robot to fill in for worker shortages. The comments on some of these videos are hilarious. One person said they didn’t find the robot to be very attractive. Someone else called it despicable, saying they wanted human interaction. Still someone else said, “Finally! No more small talk.”

According to Nandini Roy Choudhury with the blog Modern Restaurant Management, we should expect to see more of this. Choudhury writes:

As per the International Organization for Standardization, a service robot performs functional tasks for humans or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications. The rise of service robots is the result of different levels of mechanical and artificial intelligence.

The service robots operate at two levels of intelligence- from delivering food to taking care of consumer’s queries. This has given rise to a whole new era of human-like interactive and intelligent services with emotional and social capabilities. Robots are able to improve the guest experience by analysing the online reviews from hotels and restaurants.

These robots work in food processing plants, can do check-in and check-out service at hotels, and carry your luggage at the airport. One startup in California, Miso Robotics, created a service robot called Flippy 2 that can take over a fry station and cook and flip burgers. Flippy 2 can even cook onion rings and chicken fingers. Another pizza-assembly system, Picnic Pizza System, allows one worker to put together up to 100 12-inch customized pizzas per hour.

This is all kind of weird to me, especially considering the stories we’ve been hearing about how awful some customers have been to staff, including workers at restaurants. But they’re nice to a robot? Perhaps we can send a robot to Tobi’s wife to give her a break.

I guess the Jetsons is coming true, right Rosie?

Rosie the Robot doesn’t look too happy.

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Government

City

Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — also via video

Province

No meetings


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
11:30: Carmen, car carrier, moves from Pier 9 to Autoport
12:00: MSC Julie, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal
14:30: New Secret, yacht, arrives at Dartmouth Cove from Montreal
15:30: Endeavour, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.


Footnotes

For the record, I hate doing housework, although I hate a mess. The struggle is real.


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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. Noticed: The rise of the service robots

    Robots serving in Nova Scotia are nothing new. We have two kinds: MPs and MLAs.

    Both know exactly how to stand or sit on cue.
    If you interact with them, they will recite party talking points. Just stroke one on the head and feel the love! Someone said, “Finally! No more small talk.” (No, that wasn’t me).

    They all promise to represent their constituents but won’t run over the leader nor bolt from the caucus because they actually know which side of the bread has their butter. This guarantees a service life of at least 6 years.

    These service robots operate at two levels of intelligence – one for the party and another to represent their constituents (to the extent the party allows). AI makes this possible because these robots are able to improve the party experience by analyzing online reviews from public opinion polls and focus groups so they will continue to play a vital role maintaining a seat tally.

    This is all kind of weird to me, especially considering the stories we’ve been hearing about how awful some voters have been to party robots. Fortunately this is not a serious problem because most voters have short memories, except for the most cynical ones and they generally don’t vote anyway.

    So be nice to your party MP and MLA. They’re not bad, they’re just programmed that way.

  2. What’s the “one small habit” that keeps a man organized? A wife

    Het, I was looking for more on this. (But, cool as it is.)