[Editor’s Note: In a scrum with reporters late in his fourth, scandal-plagued term as Premier of Nova Scotia, John Buchanan famously defended one Cherry Ferguson, a favoured civil servant who’d been discovered to be holding down three senior provincial government jobs. His exact words are lost to history, but they ran along these lines: “She doesn’t have three jobs. She’s Deputy Clerk of the House, Chief Electoral Officer, and a lawyer for the Workers’ Compensation Board. That’s not three jobs.” To honour this great moment in political communication, Contrarian from time to time presents the Cherry Ferguson Award to an official who can stare an obvious but unpleasant truth in the face, in broad daylight, where all the world can see it, and declare it not to be there.]
Today’s award goes to Melissa Blake, Mayor of the Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality, who voiced pique at singer Neil Young’s declaration that Fort McMurray is “a wasteland” that “looks like Hiroshima.”
When people say it’s a wasteland, it really and truly isn’t. When it comes to the community of Fort McMurray, you’re overwhelmed, frankly, by the beauty of it. You’ve got an incredible boreal environment that’s all around you. You proceed further north into the oil sands and inevitably, there’s mining operations that will draw your attention because they take up large chunks of land.
Fort Mac is part of Mayor Blake’s Wood Buffalo municipality. Feast yours eyes on the beauty of its surroundings.
And finally, the trailer for Petropolis, a Greenpeace advocacy doc on the Tar Sands:
The blobfish, highlighted in a New York Times slide show on ugly animals, is “practically all face — a pale, gelatinous deep-sea creature whose large-lipped, sad-sack expression seems to be melting toward the floor.” An accompanying article explores the underpinnings of our aesthetic recoil:
[C]omparative consideration of what we find freakish or unsettling in other species offers a fresh perspective on how we extract large amounts of visual information from a millisecond’s glance, and then spin, atomize and anthropomorphize that assessment into a revealing saga of ourselves.
Wildlife biologists are far from immune to prejudice against the unbeautiful.
[R]researchers found 1,855 papers about chimpanzees, 1,241 on leopards and 562 about lions — but only 14 for that mammalian equivalent of the blobfish, the African manatee.
“The manatee was the least studied large mammal,” [University of Pretoria researcher Morgan] Trimble said. Speculating on a possible reason for the disparity, she said, “Most scientists are in it for the love of what they do, and a lot of them are interested in big, furry cute things.”
Greenpeace and the IFAW learned how to monetize this prejudice decades ago, via their cash cow, the seal hunt protest.