Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

FOIPOP Follies

For the record: I received the response to my freedom of information/protection of privacy (FOIPOP) request to the NS Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) for an “unedited” copy of Neil MacNeil’s rail fees report.

I got bupkis.

There are a couple of additional emails not included in the batch I discussed last week, but the drafts of the report have been redacted as have any changes discussed in the emails.

I will appeal the decision and years from now, when I am old and grey and have forgotten what a train is, I may even receive a ruling in my favor.



Here’s my question of the week: would an actual port developer, one trotting the globe trying to secure a shipping line for an as-yet-to-be-constructed mega-container-ship terminal on Canada’s east coast, also have time to research, write and promote a book about “Canadian” support for the Confederacy during the American Civil War?

Because Barry Sheehy, of Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP) did.

He popped up in the National Post this week (thanks Spectator reader  — you know who you are — for that heads up) to crap all over what he termed columnist Colby Cosh’s Canadian “virtue signalling” about the Civil War.

I’m not going to recap their dueling screeds — first because you can read them for yourselves and second because, with such an immense body of Civil War scholarship to choose from, I don’t know that need to learn your history from either of these guys. (I would note in passing, though, that Sheehy’s references to “Canada” and “Canadian authorities” in a pre-1867 context are a little weird and also that his bio does not mention anything about port promotion.)

My main concern, as noted at the outset, is how Sheehy can find the time to pen screeds for the National Post (let alone entire books) when our mega-port remains little more than a sparkle in Mayor Cecil Clarke’s eye and we know time is a wastin’ — their $28,102 Ports Day speaker James C. Evans told them in 2016 that the window of opportunity was closing, as ports along the US Eastern seaboard raised bridges and dredged harbors to accommodate the new generation of monster container ships.

That was over a year ago and since then, after the big fanfare over the signing of Ports America as a terminal operator (in December 2016 — I wonder how we’re going to mark the one-year anniversary?), we’ve heard…crickets.

At least, I thought it was crickets, maybe it was the sound of a Civil War historian happily tapping away at his keyboard.


Judge O’Neil

This article by Tim Bousquet about a case in which Lawrence O’Neil, associate chief justice of the NS Family Court (and PC member of parliament for Cape Breton Highlands-Canso for 1,539 days, from ’84 to ’88), awarded custody of a child to a father with a record of domestic assault is fascinating.

The story is either that “a mother with full legal custody of her son was simply fearful and attempted to hide from the man who had been convicted of assaulting her” or that she “engineered her disappearance with the help of three police agencies that concocted a false tale about the Witness Protection Program.”

O’Neil, you’ll be interested to hear, seems to believes the latter version. Bousquet traces as many of the ins and outs of the story as can be discerned from the relevant court documents and it’s a really interesting (if depressing) read.

He concludes by noting that O’Neil has been officially rebuked in the past for being overly concerned about the rights of fathers.

If you are one of the lucky souls with a combined Spectator/Examiner subscription, you can leap the paywall and read the story right now.

If you’re not, what are you waiting for?


Siddhartha Mukherjee

You know that feeling when you finish a book you’ve enjoyed so much or found so enlightening you hate to see it end? I’ve discovered an excellent way to cope with that (other than simply re-reading the book immediately or rationing the last chapter over a month): YouTube.

This summer, for instance, I read Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (which I borrowed from the McConnell Library in Sydney, yay libraries!). Reviewing the book (which won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2011 and has been turned into a Ken Burns documentary), the Guardian said:

[Mukherjee] calls this great and beautiful book a biography, rather than a history, because he wants his reader to understand his subject not just as a disease, a scientific problem or a social condition, but as a character – an antagonist with a story to tell through its eerie relationships to the wider biological and animal world that is also, inexorably, our story.

I realized the other evening that I’d never actually seen Mukherjee, so I went to YouTube in search of him and I hit on this interview he did with the dean of journalism at Point Loma Nazarene University (a “Christian liberal arts” college in San Diego). The dean is not a great interviewer, but Mukherjee makes it work:

And it’s not like this educational use of YouTube precludes its recreational use — you can follow-up the in-depth interview with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author with a cat video as a sort of palate cleanser before going on to your next subject.