Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

B’Spoke Apparel: Addendum

In this week’s edition, I reviewed some recently awarded CBRM tenders, including one for clothing for Transit Authority employees that was won by B’Spoke Apparel of Halifax.

I noted that B’Spoke is owned by 180 Moda which is owned by Taura Lee (aka Taura Publicover). Here’s the information on 180 Moda from the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies:

Lee was also involved with a company called Chorister Gowns and Robes Inc, founded the same year as 180 Moda (2010) but revoked from the NS Registry of Joint Stock Companies for non-payment in 2016:

I’d run across a June 2016 Frank Magazine report that Lee had been sued by ACOA for $50,000 outstanding on a $96,317 loan granted to Chorister Gowns and Robes Inc. and 180 Moda in 2011. I wanted to get an update on that lawsuit before I mentioned it, so I contacted ACOA spokesperson Lori Selig who told me, in an email:

On June 1, 2016, ACOA was awarded a judgement, which has yet to be settled, for non-payment against Chorister Gowns and Robes Inc. and co-borrower 180 Moda Inc. in the amount of $51,678.84.

In other words, the story is exactly where it was when Frank reported on it a year ago.


Off-Highway Vehicles 

I took the bus to Halifax last week and brought along The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History because I knew I’d have seven (yikes!) hours of uninterrupted reading time. (It was a great plan except that I was much further along in the book than I’d realized and I had finished it by the time the bus was climbing Kelly’s Mountain, leaving me with nothing to do but listen to music and look out the window, contemplating our doom for the next six hours.)

For those of you who haven’t read it, Elizabeth Kolbert’s book explores the notion that we are living through an era of mass extinction — the sixth such event over the past half billion years on our planet, but the first one caused by human beings.

It’s bleak, let me tell you, and I’m glad I read it on a rainy bus ride in May instead of saving it for the beach. (I have notoriously weird ideas of what constitutes a “beach read.” Past selections have included Harvest of Sorrow, about engineered famine in Ukraine, and The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman’s account of events leading up to the First World War.)

Today, by odd coincidence, while looking through the completed Freedom of Information/Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) requests on the provincial website, I ran across a document that relates directly to Kolbert’s book.

It’s a draft report for the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment called “Environmental and Wilderness Recreation Impacts of Off-Highway Vehicles: A Literature Summary Review with examples from Nova Scotiaand it reads like a “how-to” manual for human-caused extinction.

The authors reviewed over 200 studies on the effects of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) like snowmobiles and ATVs on the environment and the laundry list of damage they do is impressive: compacting soil, causing erosion, crushing birds’ nests, destroying underground burrows, inadvertently introducing “invasive” plant species, killing existing plant species, inhibiting animal (and bird and bug) mobility, scaring songbirds, etc, etc, etc. As a 2009 technical report on the state of Nova Scotia’s coast put it, “These vehicles tend to be more destructive than previous forms of recreation.”

Of course, such damage has been done to a far greater degree by on-highway vehicles and the point of Kolbert’s book is that we only have “Wilderness Areas,” like those the Department of the Environment is trying to protect from OHVs, because we’ve destroyed so much natural habitat building our cities and suburbs and industrial-sized farms.

Still, I think that does make it all the more important to protect what wilderness we have left. I’m guessing the draft document ends with a recommendation that OHVs continue to be banned from provincial parks and nature reserves, but the authors’ recommendations, presumably contained in the report’s “conclusion,” have been redacted because heaven forbid you should know what the government’s advisers are advising.


Clusters & Patterns 

I ran across this gem of bureaucrat-ese in a Nova Scotia Health Authority briefing note to CEO Janet Knox:

The Glace Bay Dominion Reserve Mines community cluster has a population of 21,782 with material and psychosocial deprivation scores in the 3-5 range for the most populated areas. According to the 2016 Small Area Variation in Rates of High-Cost Healthcare Use Across Nova Scotia Report, this cluster contributes to high cost use based on disease patterns.

It sent me running (screaming) to my copy of Death Sentences: How Clichés, Weasel Words, and Management-Speak are Strangling Public Language by Australian writer Don Watson. I read it in 2005 (it had been published in Australia two years earlier) and it made a deep impression upon me.

As the reviewer for The Age put it when it was first published:

The book charts how “managerial language” has infiltrated the English of politics, business, bureaucracy, education and the arts. The book is about the rise of core strategies and key performance indicators, and the death of clarity and irony and funny old things called verbs. It is about a new language that Watson calls sludge and clag and gruel.

Watson would surely wince at the use of “community clusters” and “disease patterns” and “material deprivation” for “towns” and “sickness” and “poverty.” And as always, when you put the jargon next to the English, you wonder why anyone trying to communicate a message would ever use jargon. And then you realize, as Watson makes clear, that managerial English is about many things — sounding important, sounding like you know what you’re talking about, obfuscation — but it’s not about communication.


Ads trumping content

I’m the first to admit that running an online publication on a subscription-only basis has its challenges, but whenever I start to fantasize about the money I could make selling ads, I open the online edition of the Cape Breton Post and gaze in awe at whatever multicolored, interactive, seizure-inducing horror is happening there, and I’m cured.

Today’s front page served as a particularly bracing tonic:





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