Archive for August, 2011

Babel media spar during summer’s dog days.

Friday, August 5th, 2011

The dog days of summer are actually rooted in the past but today it an excuse for the media to produce some really cornball material.  It is as bad on television as it is in newspapers.  They all act as though they have nothing to write or talk about.  It is getting so bad that one of the two chain newspapers that ill-serve Babel wrote an extensive editorial about its print competition.

Talk about the skillet calling the frying pan black!  This is the blunderer complaining about the incompetent.  The Torstar publication, a free distribution grocery and furniture store wrap, the one we call Babel Backward, ran an editorial by Torstar Chairman John Honderich.  Entitled Accountable to no one, the editorial complains bitterly about Sun Media, owner of the Barrie Examiner, quitting the Ontario Press Council.

The Ontario Press Council is near and dear to the Toronto Star which helped create the Council.  It has made Torstar look good over the years while other people get to arbitrate when someone claims to have been wronged by the publication.  It cuts down on cost of lawyers to handle the law suits and usually resolves any incorrect utterance with a deep and moving apology.  And who cares?

Sun Media, the print media accumulation of Pierre-Karl Péladeau’s integrated media empire, has dumped all links to other media through such cooperatives as Canadian Press and the Canadian Newspaper Association.  It was very amusing to hear that one of Péladeau’s executive’s accused the Ontario Press Council of being ‘Politically Correct.’  It is hard to imagine Péladeau understanding what that term means.  It certainly does not apply to his flagship newspapers Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec—publications that could make Rupert Murdoch blush!

What Péladeau is creating across his media empire is best described as editorial anarchy.  Conrad Black, no matter how much we hated him, at least brought a level of discipline to the newsrooms when he owned newspapers.  Talking to one of the few real reporters at the Sun Media outlet in Babel, we once remarked that the Canadian Press Style Book had stopped spelling a farmer’s plow or a snowplow as ‘plough’ more than 50 years ago.  He laughed and told us that the publisher did not care and the reporter liked spelling it the old way. ‘So there!’

John Honderich should try to read some of the sorry excuses for newspapers that Torstar produces across Ontario.  The newspaper industry is not dying because of the evolution of electronic media but because of the greed and uncaring attitude of the Canadian newspaper industry’s corporate ownership.


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Contemplation in a summer of hope.

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

It has been that kind of summer.  It has been a restorative time.  Far too hot to be active but very pleasant to sit on the balcony with a cold drink, watching the boats, the swimmers, the children at play.  The only books taken out to that balcony are historical, offering insights into the past.  It is more fun to sit and contemplate the future.

Many of the concerns for the future have revolved around the Liberal Party of Canada.  Where the party might be headed is a recurring theme for writers as the historical governing party has mainly withdrawn from public life to lick its wounds.

The answer to the federal angst is positive.  “We shall rise to fight again,” is the rallying cry.  We just have to be a different kind of political party.  We have to define our party.  We need to seek out our coalition of voters and speak with them and for them.  We need to be proudly left of that vague, amorphous political centre.  We need to represent justice in a world of injustice.  We need to understand that while we have to use the law and to make law, we cannot lose sight of the individual.

The Liberal Party must recognize the power of one.  This is the individual and the individual no longer owes existence and rights to the state but the state owes the individual for its acceptance and existence.  Similarly, the police to not bring order to the populace but are the delegated force of the populace and owe allegiance to that populace.

Our politicians must be our servants, carrying out the wishes of the populace, always conscious of protecting of the rights and wishes of the individual.  These servants protect our environment for now and for the future.  They mind our health, they bring order to commerce, they build the infrastructure to meet the needs of all our society, and they assure our rights to learning.  There is no fixed list of tasks to be achieved, there are just the needs of people in a successful society.

To create this new approach to politics, we must also change our thinking about how a political party works.  It has to be there to work for its supporters.  It is there to organize the political priorities.  It produces the people who can serve us best in government.  It is the conduit for direction from the populace.  It is an information network.  This will take very hard work to create.


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The possible and the spurious.

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Watching the television news about the American debt battle in Congress, the wife turned and asked “What comes after a trillion dollars?”

The answer was immediate and regretted: “Confusion.”

We should have said “quadrillion” and let it go at that.  Instead we got into a silly discussion of the differences in how Americans count.  The problem is that the way Americans count, a billion is only a thousand million.  In other systems, a billion is considered to be a million million which is a thousand times as much.

The rest of the world has had to go along with this Americanism but one is still best to check the number of zeros after a number to confirm.

But while that discussion can be considered spurious, hopefully politicians in the United States are now dealing with the possible.  They have an annual budget running over three of their trillions of dollars per year which is a lot in anyone’s language.  Their right-wing, small government advocates are asking them to start paring this down by an average of about US$20 billion per year which they might be able to do if they are not fighting too many foreign wars and the U.S. banking system cleans up its act.

But trying to balance the U.S. budget and finally gaining some cooperation will not make the foolish right-wing nuts like the Tea Party go away.  We have the same problem in Canada with Toronto’s Ford Brothers and Johnny-one-notes such as Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.  And in the meantime, we are on pins and needles waiting for the federal Harper Conservatives to decide where to strike.

Other than that, it really is a pretty summer.  We are enjoying it.  Hope you are too!


All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to