Changes at the newspaper

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Friday.

The news of the week around here is, I suppose, that this newspaper is becoming a weekly. The last day of daily publication will be July 26…which incidentally coincides with my last day of work.

No, I was not laid-off. In fact, at the announcement made yesterday, none of the advertising or editorial staff were told to pack up. My decision to leave the paper – I submitted my official resignation letter a while ago – may have spared someone (me?) from losing his job as a reporter, but I officially departed on my own will and well before news of this change reached my ears.

Why am I leaving? I have other projects planned that would have conflicted with the time commitment required of a full-time reporter. But being at the paper was the fulfillment of a long-term ambition and I’m glad I had the opportunity.

I wish my colleagues well at the new weekly. We have/had probably been one of Canada’s smallest dailies– a testament to the support of readers and advertisers – but a weekly (twice weekly, when you factor in having the Citizen Record) may be a better fit for this population base. And it’s my understanding updates to our website will be happening daily.

So that’s what’s going on here. But what’s going on elsewhere?

Well, in far-off Earth’s orbit, the supermoon will make an appearance tomorrow night: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/06/20/supermoon_big_bright_moon_but_no_more_than_usual.html

Don’t get too excited – apparently the difference won’t be noticeable by most of us.

I dropped by Fort Beausejour today to take pictures and video of the Google Street View car and camera there to record our local fortification. The Google person wasn’t authorized to speak to me. The Parks Canada guy with her wasn’t authorized to speak, nor was the Parks Canada rep on-site at the fort. But there were PR people they could put me in touch with…!

Everyone be quiet, it's 2013.

There is a little, some might say callous, part of me that, whenever I hear about a bad flood, echoes in my head: “That’s one of the reasons I wanted a house on a hill…”: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/100000-calgarians-evacuated-due-to-flooding/article12738046/

A good news pet story from the flood: http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/hero-rescues-cat-from-raging-flood-waters-in-alberta

A well-balanced opinion piece on Afghanistan, despite a headline that, while ultimately appropriate, reads boosterish at first glance: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/06/19/jonathan-kay-heads-held-high-in-afghanistan/

The question is, though, will we learn from this? Make no mistake: I was hawkish about the invasion, I was hawkish about the invasion of Iraq. My views have shifted, however.

Iraq is not a complete disaster, nor is Afghanistan. But while I think the goals of robust global liberalization are laudable, I’m unconvinced they can be effective in an era when the home audience sees every wart and doesn’t want to spend the money to fund campaigns properly. And, honestly, I’m not convinced they’re wrong not to want to. I am increasingly skeptical of the propriety of government taking tax dollars to fund oversees engagements that are not directly related to national defense.

Yes, the US was attacked and the Taliban were directly harbouring Al-Qaeda. Disrupting that relationship was important. But the goal shifted to nation-building, and Canada signed on early. Question: How successfully has Afghanistan the nation been built?

Every soldier who served in Afghanistan and helped civilians in that country can be proud of their service. The lives they touched were improved by the sacrifices of our soldiers. But on a geo-political scale, the mixed review Kay provides is close to right. I just hope the West keeps its hubris in check next time: Go in to win – to make every effort to achieve all important objectives decisively – or don’t go in. And just because what you’re selling is good and makes sense – Western liberalism and rule of law – doesn’t mean you’ll get customers. Think of it this way: Plenty of our own leaders act in their own best interests; why would Afghan warlords be any different? Peace may be good for average people, but leaders don’t like to lose power, and plenty of people around the world find ways to profit from misery and chaos.

I like cemeteries. Ghoulish? I especially like tiny, country ones. They look restful. The ones at this link range from grand to a little bizarre, overgrown to spartan: http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/drop-dead-gorgeous-cemeteries-around-the-world

I don’t know how many of these pictures were staged, but yes: http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/pictures-that-prove-society-is-doomed

Texting for extended periods, in public, annoys me. Texting for extended periods in the company of others is just obnoxious. And I reject the idea it’s just that I’m old so I don’t get it. I get lots of new things. I embrace lots of new things. Some new things are crappy, however, and this is one of those things.

This is bad: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/06/19/pol-mask-bill-royal-assent.html

Ten years? Does that sound reasonable? No one likes masked hooligans, but this kind of overbearing, draconian lawmaking should offend us all. What if you wore a mask to a peaceful demonstration (I guess wearing a mask for that would still be legal, even if it’s weird/suspicious) which got rowdy? What if police decided it had become a riot when you still thought it was a peaceful protest? Or maybe you were being peaceful and the people around you were, so you thought you weren’t part of the riot? “That’s 10 years in prison for you, son!”

Hey, what if a Halloween party turned into a riot when cops busted it?

Should wearing masks and rioting be discouraged? Sure, of course. How about a $2,000 fine? How about, at most, a maximum conviction of two years less a day?

Our own MP, Mr. Armstrong, had an op-ed in our paper this week (it was about Bill C-54). He’s a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Apparently the maximum for masks was going to be five years but a justice committee amended it to double the penalty (I have no idea if it’s the committee Scott’s on, or his view of the 10-year max, but he’s a member of this government and I’d be interested to hear his justification for a law that uses a hydrogen bomb where pepper spray would suffice).

I like coyotes, but I’m saying “Good little rottweiler” in this case: http://www.fark.com/vidplayer/7807410

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