Archive for: May 2012
A couple of day-after comments about Darrell Dexter’s cabinet shuffle seem worth passing on:
First, a longtime New Democrat writes that, “Having to take Maureen out of Health to backfill Finance indicates a lack of bench strength.”
Second, a friend notes that, as a former paramedic, incoming Health Minister Dave Wilson should put paid to Nursing Union president Janet Hazelton’s campaign to featherbed the new Collaborative Emergency Centres.
Hazelton has complained the staffing model of one nurse and one advanced care paramedic, with telephone backup from an emergency room specialist physician, is insufficient to meet, ahem, professional standards. Nothing less than two union nurses will do, she insists.
The two governing bodies that regulate the nursing professions in Nova Scotia disagree. The College of Registered Nurses and the College of Licensed Practical Nurses have collaborated on a set of professional standards for the new centres that makes no such demand.
Promising to end rural emergency room closures was an flagrant fib at the heart of the NDP’s election platform. The CECs represent a sensible and creative solution to the problem—and MacDonald’s crowning achievement as minister. Wilson probably won’t be impressed with Hazelton’s thinly veiled slight to his former profession, and he must not allow union staffing rules to sabotage the CECs.
Wednesday’s smoothly orchestrated cabinet shuffle could not hide the central fact of the event: It is a big loss for the Dexter Government.
Graham Steele has been the strongest member of Darrell Dexter’s cabinet, turning in a sterling job at Finance while displaying a rare knack for speaking plainly, persuasively, and with conviction.
Bill Estabrooks’s departure likewise represents a big loss. He was the cabinet minister with the commonest touch, a popular, unpretentious man who did solid work putting systems in place for rational decision-making about road work. The province’s roadbuilding oligopoly was apoplectic over Estabrooks’s decision to set up a civil service paving plant, but taxpayers have already benefitted from sharper bidding in parts of the province where one contractor had buffaloed the competition.
Estabrooks was frank about the toll Parkinsons has taken on him; perhaps a more restful pace will slow its cruel progress. Steele was more coy about his reasons for leaving, insisting he has no job lined up but wants to chart a new, as yet undefined career course. The man most often touted as Dexter’s successor pointedly did not rule out an eventual return to elected office at the provincial or federal level.
As the only other minister approaching Steele’s stature, Maureen MacDonald is the logical choice to succeed him, but that leaves the important Health portfolio in the hands of rookie Dave Wilson, about whom I don’t know enough to venture a forecast.
Considering the number of under-performers who fill out the cabinet table, Wednesday’s shuffle was surprisingly minimalist. Several strong MLAs continue to languish on the back benches — Gary Burrill (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley) and Clarrie MacKinnon (Pictou East) are two obvious examples — while Denise Peterson-Rafuse heads the list of ministers who have shown they are not up to the job.
Competence is only one of many factors that go into crafting a cabinet, and Darrell Dexter knows his caucus far better than I. But his continued willingness to countenance incompetence in a 12-member executive council is the most disquieting feature of his government.
Early in 1229, Johannes Myronas, a monk working in Jerusalem, wrote a prayer book. He constructed the book on parchment he recycled from several documents, including a manuscript by the Greek mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse (287–212 BC).
Myronas erased Archimedes’ words, separated the pages of his manuscript, cut the pages in half, turned them sideways, shuffled them, and transcribed his own prayers onto them. In the years since, the prayer book was drizzled with wax and repaired with various types of glue. Some its pages were covered again with forged paintings.
In this way, a unique work by one of humankind’s seminal mathematicians was lost for eight centuries. In the TED talk below, curator William Noel of the Walters Art Museum recounts the extraordinary steps by which a group of scientists recovered the text. It’s a great yarn, but the real lesson is not about science, but about how data increases in value when it is shared.
What exactly is this message, displayed on the London Underground? Is it a come-on from a tonier paper–The Times, perhaps? A pitch to get off dead-tree communications altogether, and follow The Guardian online?
No, as the fine print makes clear, it’s a plea from the Mayor of London and Transport for London to avoid subway clutter by disposing of your reading matter in an appropriate recycling receptacle:
Newspapers left on the Tube can jam doors and cause delays to your journey. Take your newspaper with you or put it in the bin to to be recycled.
The town of Torshavn, pop. 20,000, capital of the Faroes Islands, now features wifi aboard its city buses.
Researchers with the US National Institute of Health examined the association between coffee drinking and mortality among 400,000 men and women in a Diet and Health Study they conducted in association with the American Association of Retired People. Participants with pre-existing cancer, heart disease, and stroke were excluded.
During 5,148,760 person-years of follow-up between 1995 and 2008, a total of 33,731 men and 18,784 women died. In age-adjusted models, the risk of death was increased among coffee drinkers. However, coffee drinkers were also more likely to smoke, and, after adjustment for tobacco-smoking status and other potential confounders, there was a significant inverse association between coffee consumption and mortality… Inverse associations were observed for deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but not for deaths due to cancer. Results were similar in subgroups, including persons who had never smoked and persons who reported very good to excellent health at baseline.
In this large prospective study, coffee consumption was inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality. Whether this was a causal or associational finding cannot be determined from our data. (Funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.) Supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.
[UPDATE] – Contrarian reader Mark Austin comments:
This is not peer-reviewed, but my research tells me that both heavy coffee drinkers and abstainers have a 100% risk of mortality.
Headline: CBRM to seek control of Laurentian Energy’s greenfield site
Headline: CBRM warns harbour site suitor
Let me see if I have this straight:
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality, which is $102.9 million in debt, and which constantly complains that it can’t afford to provide basic services, is going to borrow $6 million to buy 400 acres of harbour-front land, or a lesser amount to buy a controlling interest in the company that is selling the land, all to block — yes, block! — a proposed industrial development, so it can “save” the land for a fantasy container pier that will never, ever happen.
CBRM can afford to do this because it is overflowing in industrial development, and because a glorious fantasy in the bush is worth a real industry in the hand, especially in an election year.
CBRM can borrow beyond its already unsafe debt-service ratios, because it will be rolling in cash as soon as it gets the evil oppressors in Halifax to start forking over its rightful level of handouts, or rather, equalization payments. (The current level is more than what Halifax sends to all other municipalities in the province, combined.)
Dredge it, and they will come. And we will put the run on them. This is what passes for economic development strategy in the fervid brains of CBRM’s mayor and council.
There may be legitimate reasons to question this proposed development. But pretending Sydney is going to get a container pier isn’t one of them. That fraud has gone on long enough.
Mike Penney, a teacher at Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School in Worcester, Massachusetts, invited his students to record their thoughts on the ups and downs of the school year, while secretly sneaking fellow teachers into the the video frame for some stealth disco. Then he set the footage to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
H/T SP vis Gawker