Seen over Halifax

What’s that ghostly visage cruising over Halifax on an overcast Fourth of July, 1936. Hint: take a closer look at the logo emblazoned on the airship’s tail.

It’s Luftschiff Zeppelin #129, better known as the Hindenburg, on a transatlantic flight just 10 months before its catastrophic docking at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.

The photo is one of many fascinating images on a Nova Scotia Archives web display called An East Coast Port: Halifax in Wartime, 1939-1945.

The Hindenburg overflew the city at about 1000 feet, causing the Halifax Herald to fret two days later over the possibility “those aboard the Hindenburg were taking pictures of Halifax and other places, for the files of the German air ministry.”

The same Nova Scotia Archives web feature includes film clips from the period, including this riveting footage of a German U-Boat crew surrending to US and Canadian vessels off Shelburne in 1945. Note especially the crewmen being patted down at the 0:50 second mark, and the sullen faces of the hapless submariners assembled on an unidentified wharf at the 1:30 mark. This is not how they expected their war to turn out.

UPDATE: Reader Derek Andrews points out that a dirigible—one of ours, presumably—appears in this video as well.

The Nova Scotia Archives also makes its videos available in a more user-friendly format on YouTube.

H/T: Iain Grant and Richard Stephenson, and thanks to the Archives’ social marketing whirlwind Lauren Oostveen.

2001 space quip: You can’t polish a…

Toronto Star movie critic Peter Howell is a 2001: A Space Odyssey fanatic who claims to have seen the 1968 Stanley Kubrick sci-fi classic more than 40 times. For the second holiday season in a row, Bell Lightbox, the Toronto International Film Festival’s modernistic movie showcase, is featuring a 70MM version of the film.

Critic Howell marked last year’s screenings with a column titled, “21 cool things about 2001: A Spacey Odyssey.” He reprised the column yesterday with “21 more cool things.” In this year’s instalment, Howell reports that when Kubrick was editing Space Odyssey, the comedian and filmmaker Jerry Lewis was down the hall making final cuts to one of his low-brow comedies. Late one night, Kubrick watched a frustrated Lewis struggle to make a scene work.

“You cannot polish a turd,” Lewis moaned.

“You can if you freeze it,” Kubrick replied.

The original trailer for  2001: A Space Odyssey is, of course, on YouTube.

H/T: Kendra Barnes.

Taking a dive in the Barra Strait


On December 12, Harvey Morash and Michael Gerhartz went diving at Grand Narrows, Cape Breton, where the two great basins of the Bras d’Or Lake* converge amidst the treacherous currents of the Barra Strait.

Those currents make the water in this video disturbingly murky, but the fecundity of the sea life—the profusion of urchins, anemones, not to mention perch, lobster, and cod—is something to see.

The aerial photo at right shows the two bridges, highway and railway, that span the strait, from Iona on the left to Grand Narrows on the right.

* Lake? Lakes? An eternal argument. The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association has settled on ‘lake,’ and I will take my cue from them.

Jobs and politics, NDP style — “That’s just wrong.”

Nova Scotia’s New Democratic Party is wasting no time making hay in the sunshine of its Bowater bailout with a direct-mail flyer that’s sure to infuriate opposition parties.

The one-page card, featuring a photo of Premier Darrell Dester and Queens MLA Vicki Conrad, will start appearing in South Shore mailboxes this week. It uses Chronicle-Herald headlines to highlight the Dexter Government’s rescue of the financially shaky newsprint mill, contrasting it with a jaundiced appraisal of opposition efforts.

The NDP government is protecting 2,000 jobs with an investment in the mill workers and the Bowater Mersey pulp and paper mill in Queens County by targeting help in training, energy efficiency, and productivity improvements….

During difficult times, the people of the South Shore stood together. And I am proud to say the Government of Nova Scotia stood right there with you. — Premier Darrell Dexter

But those opposition scoundrels?

The Liberals and Tories are still doing old-style politics.

They are opposing the deal to save 2000 jobs.

But they won’t put forward a plan of their own.

That’s just wrong.

Ouch. Could this be the first volley in the 2012 election campaign?

Donham’s Law of Fisheries Conservation reconfirmed

In an almost perfect illustration of Donham’s Law, the New York Times reports this morning that New English fishermen are pooh-poohing calls from fisheries scientists for greater restrictions, or even an outright ban, on cod fishing in the gulf of Maine.

The scientists point to new data showing cod stocks in much worse shape than previously thought; the fishermen say there’s an abundance of fish.

“Fishermen will almost always tell you that, and it’s not that they’re lying,” said Mark Kurlansky, whose 1997 book, “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World,” documented how Canada’s once-abundant Atlantic cod were fished almost to extinction. “Landing a lot of fish can mean the fish are very plentiful, or it can mean the fishermen are extremely efficient in scooping up every last one of them.”

Donham’s Law of Fisheries Conservation states that All fishermen resolutely support conservation measures, except those targeting the species they fish for, and the gear types they fish with.

First contract legislation — rebuttal

Doing a little catch-up here after a week of long-distance travel on short notice. Scott Gillard, constituency assistant to MLA Howard Epstein, objected to the inference I drew from a brief first-contract strike at Summer Street Industries in New Glasgow, where professional union negotiators pursued rigid workplace rules with wilful indifference to the rights and sensibilities of the developmentally challenged men and women that organization serves.

The CUPE functionaries failed, thanks in part to pushback from their own members. Had the NDP government’s first-contract arbitration had been in place, I suggested, an arbitrator ignorant of disabilities issues could have effectively wrecked a wonderful non-profit organization. Gillard calls this the “my cousin Louise” argument:

No matter how valid the legislation, in this case, may be there will always be someone (my cousin Louise) who can share an exception to its effectiveness. I think it is a red herring. To oppose Bill 102 on the basis that, in a specific situation, it would not have served its intended purpose is a bit much.

Darrell Dexter - Throwing a bone (Tim Krochak phot/Chronicle-Herald)

You may have been able to provide and example of an exception to the benefit of the legislation but whether you are right or wrong on the implications of the legislation in this situation is irrelevant. Finding a specific situation where something may not work falls short of making a convincing case in opposition.

Good legislation is hopefully the goal of government. No government assumes their legislation is perfect. Frankly, it’s just this type of argument that reminds us of the complexity of a government’s legislative agenda. There’s always going to be a “my cousin Louise” type exception.

Gillard has a point. I was arguing from a very specific, though not unique, set of facts. and they have limited application to disputes involving conventional businesses. To be completely honest, I saw the first contract arbitration issue as an opportunity to lay out the disgraceful behaviour of a union that thinks of itself as progressive.

But what’s the case for Bill 102? What bad situation will it remedy?. Union people say over and over that collective bargaining works in Nova Scotia. For the most part, I think they are right. Why not let it play out? Why impose settlements on unwilling parties? After the jump, Gillard responds: Continue reading First contract legislation — rebuttal

Cape Breton Post editorial takes on Mayor John Morgan

In a rare instance of a local voice taking on Sydney’s popular but incessantly negative mayor, a Cape Breton Post editorial criticized two recent tweets by His Worship:  It was typical Morgan stuff:

… there is no evidence that our region can survive under the current governance structure in Nova Scotia


It’s not survivable for businesses and it’s not even survivable for families impacted to have that level of taxation burden with less than half the service levels. It is corrosive to the entire community.

In a leader titled “The Eternal Pessimist,” the Post nailed the destructive impact of the mayor’s  constant whining:

[T]he picture he’s painting is not only negative, it’s untrue. Many local businesses and families are not only surviving, they’re thriving, despite paying higher taxes and having access to fewer services than residents of the provincial capital.

Morgan calls that putting “a positive spin on what is unfolding.” But it’s not spin, it’s the truth.

Undoubtedly, some businesses and families are struggling. Would it help if more government jobs were located in Cape Breton? Yes. Would it help if the province distributed more equalization money to the municipalities? Arguably, but that would mean less money in the provincial coffers, so something would likely be cut.

What Morgan doesn’t seem to understand — or chooses to ignore — is that a mayor can pursue more equalization money and government jobs without alienating others and without the perpetual public pessimism. His version of equalization fundamentalism might help get him re-elected, but it’s not helping the region. His attitude is “corrosive.”

This is a mayor whose administration has not lured a single job-producing enterprise to Cape Breton, and who squandered at least half a million civic dollars on a doomed legal challenge that never had any hope at success—except the “success” of  persuading gullible voters that the mayor was a scrapper in their corner.

Some scrapper. Some corner.

CBRM’s war on young people — a different view

Grad student, cultural activist, and entrepreneur Mike Targett writes:

I appreciate a lot of Jay Macneil’s general complaint. I’ve made similar ones about decision-makers not trying hard enough to make this place more livable, and even actively trying to make it less livable. I can even be pretty cynical about council at times. Maybe that cynicism is what made me think twice about this vote, since Morgan the populist voted with Kim Deveaux the radical. Curious.

Did Morgan vote for what he knew would be the popular sentiment (“All he wanted to do was dance!”) despite testimony from the Chief of Police that the dances were phenomenally unsafe? But that’s not all council voted on. There were two motions put forward on Tuesday, and it’s the second one that MacNeil ignores in his rant:

  1. Councillor Derek Mombourquette brought the motion to council to ban the dances, not because he hates young people (he practically is one), but because the Chief of Police told him the dances were a danger to the kids who attend and the police could no longer ensure their safety. I suspect that, after this police testimony, council probably couldn’t continue to allow the dances at municipally-owned buildings, as such, without being liable for what goes on. (Maybe why the schools stopped holding the dances in the first place.)
  2. Council then agreed to put resources into a committee made up of police, schools, decision-makers, and kids themselves, to come up with a way to create a safe environment for kids to have fun. (Or, I suppose, more realistically: ways to provide a reasonably safe environment.)

So if you take [1] and [2] together, council didn’t really ‘ban’ dances at this venue, they only suspended the dances until those dances can be made safe(r) for the kids who attend.

The schools, on the other hand, seem to believe the dances themselves were the problem… rather than alcohol, drugs, and violence being the problem. The schools seem to have said, ‘Ban dances, problem solved.’

All the schools solved was their own problem of liability. Whereas, if we give council the benefit of the doubt (I can’t believe I’m saying that), what they’re really saying is that the problem goes beyond the dances themselves, and that creating a safe and fun atmosphere for kids is the responsibility of the community (and should be a priority of the community).

So the community — especially the “people in this community who spend their entire day trying to find ways to inspire and engage the youth of their community” — should get behind the new committee [2] instead of blaming council for doing what they (likely) had to [1].

CBRM Council’s war on young people

Sydney radio newsman Jay MacNeil is attracting hundreds of comments, “likes,” and shares on his Facebook video denouncing CBRM council’s 10-2 vote to ban teen dances from civic facilities.

You’re making it hard. You’re just making it hard. There are people in this community who spend their entire day trying to find ways to inspire and engage the youth of their community, and around your council table there are a bunch people who find ways—on a shockingly recurring basis—to disengage youth.

View the whole rant here.

H/T: Jancie Fuller via Leah Noble