Yesterday, talk show host Rick Howe and I were chatting about Marilla Stephenson's appointment to a civil service position based on a fake competition in which she was—by design—the only candidate. Howe said it was the sort of behaviour Stephenson herself might have condemned when she was a political columnist for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. "Unless it was the Liberals who did it," I quipped. It was a cheap shot—and as it turns out, dead wrong. When Premier Stephen McNeil did something uncannily similar shortly after his government's election in 2013, then-columnist Stephenson denounced his patronage abuse in ringing terms. Twice. [caption id="attachment_16593" align="alignright" width="223"] Appointee Langille[/caption] McNeil's friend Glennie...

A 1957 photo showing, left to right, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. It is thought to be the only photograph of King, Seeger, Parks, and Abernathy together. The school was a training ground for the civil rights movement. Parks herself trained in the library pictured above shortly before her fateful refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus in 1956, the act of civil disobedience that touched off the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott. Charis (pronounced with a hard "c") is the daughter...

This is a must-have for anyone living along the Strait of Canso superport, and for 14 residents of Goldboro, soon to be the site of an LNG terminal. Denizens of HRM may also want to bone up in anticipation of warships soon to be flying off the assembly line at the Irving Shipyard. Be sure to read the reviews, especially the third one down. H/T: Sue, via Jane Kansas...

The Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism school respected in the industry for promoting  "the kind of journalism that enables us to participate fully and effectively in our democracy," has issued its annual awards for best and worst media errors and corrections of the year. Nova Scotia did not escape the list. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald won Typo of the Year for this published account of its own success at the Atlantic Journalism Awards: "It’s always notable when a paper misspells its own name," the Poynter judges said. "It’s even more notable when a paper misspells its own name in an article celebrating recent awards...

Simone Uriartt, a Brazilian artist studying at NSCAD University, takes an affectionate look at our bustling port-side capital city: Simone's studies in Nova Scotia are supported by the Science Without Borders Scholarship Program of the Brazilian National Council for Science and Technological Development. You might also enjoy her Flickr stream. H/T: Marla Cranston  ...

Our curmudgeonly friend's sardonic cousin writes: What have you got against insightful and inspired young folks? A few days ago I heard a CBC interview with a Mom who was just so darn proud of her two-year-old son because he decided not to accept presents on his second birthday. Instead, he invited guests to bring a financial donation to some worthy cause. The young boy raised a few hundred dollars for the cause. I was so overwhelmed by this child's selflessness, I forgot what the cause was. Stop engaging in childism! Give kids a chance! "Fart Day" has a nice ring to it. "Hey, what...

In two posts earlier this month (here and here), I described six mistakes by which the NDP government brought itself to the brink of defeat. Darrell Dexter's government also did several big things right, in some cases defying popular sentiment to put the province on a sensible course. Here's the start of my "good things" list: 1.  A balanced budget I know, I know, they didn't balance it by much, and if you listen to the two guys hankering for Dexter's job, they didn't balance it at all. The opposition leaders base their skepticism on the fact that certain charges have been paid forward,...

To say that my granddaughter, Rosa Eileen Barss Donham, age 7, likes stuffed animals is a bit like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a body of water. Both statements are true as far as they go, but neither captures the full grandeur of its subject matter. Rosa has a large collection of stuffed animals, each with its own name, personality, backstory, quirks, likes, dislikes, and adventuresome exploits. Her current favourite, a white kitten called Snowflake, was a great comfort when Rosa had her tonsils out last year. Snowflake even accompanied Rosa to the operating room, and got her own hospital bracelet...

Here she is, speaking obvious but rarely heard truths about specialist teaching qualifications and the education system as a vast babysitting service, in a March (?), 2012, conversation with the CBC's Amy Smith: [Video link]...

It's always risky to opine on issues of spelling and grammar, and sure enough, several readers have objected to the graphic I posted [original source unknown] mocking a purported spelling error in the Harper Party's TV ad attacking newly anointed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. These readers variously argue that many dictionaries rate judgement (two e's) a perfectly acceptable spelling, or even consider judgment (one e) to be an exclusively American orthography. Arguing from the authority of recent dictionaries is a mug's game, since postmodernist lexicographers have rejected prescriptivism in favor of descriptivism. The job of a dictionary, these rubber-kneed democrats believe,...