A Call to Arms of the Faithful

What in the world is happening? Terror killing is a daily occurrence, but to what purpose? What kind of mind can justify random killing of innocent people?

Do the killers believe they will live forever in a nirvana reserved only for those who thrive on hatred? If an almighty being values human kind at all, surely mindless cruelty and callousness deserves to be unrewarded. Destroying human lives in the name of any almighty being is not only inhuman, it is intrinsically ungodly.

call to arms

call to arms

Leaders of world religions, whatever the stripe, owe it to all humans to condemn and disown those extremist zealots who war upon innocents in the name of some sacred being. Only they have the power to rid the world of evil doers masquerading as messiahs. Words alone are not enough. Only outspoken condemnation, rejection, ostracism, denial of entry to places of worship and exposure to law enforcement authorities has any hope of ending this tidal wave of nihilist religious-based fanaticism.

Let not evil prevail.

Be Smart and Buy A Paper

Want to do something about the troubling decline of the daily newspaper? For a start, buy a subscription, and read it through every day. We get two in our house, and not just for the crossword puzzles, and certainly not for the comics (except Zits.). If you’re in any kind of business, advertise in it. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than TV or the so-called social media, and folks can take their own good time reading it.

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizan

Looking through a newspaper today, you get a sense of unreality at the lack of local ads that used to meet everyday information needs. Don’t you get fed up always having to resort to google, a process that increasingly boggles the mind because of its innumerable entries saying much the same thing, but so often irrelevant to your particular need? Google and boggle do seem to go together, don’t they?

We have only ourselves to blame, of course, for allowing technology changes to sweep away all the comforts of what used to be everyday living. Look at what digital deering-do has done to the music scene – turfing out CDs and DVDs which were great, and cheap, for music buying and selling and playing. Now singers and musicians are struggling to survive, yet everyone steals their work on line all the time.

Same goes for professional photographers who have a hard time making a living in an age overladen with selfie-worshiping amateurs snapping admittedly sharp photos on their tiny ultra-modern cell phone devices.

News reporting suffers immensely today from the incursions of digital’s hand maidens like Facebook and Twitter, the great pretenders of the mass communications universe. Colour me hopelessly reactionary but, while sharing the neighbourly gossiping merits of Facebook tune-ins, I shudder at the torrents of purportedly knowledgeable outpourings on affairs of the day by persons of unknown and often highly suspect credentials. Not to mention the even mightier torrents of odious pop-up and timeline-packing ads you have to wade through in pursuing whatever interests you.

National Post

National Post

What people seem to forget when browsing through social media is that everything they see is – just like this blog – strictly someone’s opinion. In news media, factual information is in the forefront while opinion pieces are strictly confined to by-lined columns or editorials. The news is telling about what happens, and not what someone thinks about the whys and the wherefores. If legitimate news reporting disappears, we’re in deep trouble.

Certainly my most unfavourite knowledge source so ubiquitously featured on the google-dominated internet is that ghastly phenomenon known as Wikipedia. As candidly expressed to me the first time I heard of it, dealing quite erroneously with a subject I did know about, it embodies whatever information anyone in the world fancies contributing on a subject, and leaves it for others out there to embellish or revise it with their own take on the subject. A kind of Dummies Dictionary relying in smugly democratic confidence on other dummies to get it straight. Now why didn’t Encyclopedia Britannica think of that?

In short, can’t we draw back just a little from our headlong plunge into technology’s maelstrom and hold fast to the time-honoured bastions of the free press. Journalism is a professional calling and only responsible seekers of the truth in public affairs can be trusted to communicate factual information to the public at large. OK, I’m a tad biased, my son works for the National Post, but with my own modest background in journalism, I am a firm believer in the integrity of the legitimate news media.

Just as the daily newspaper managed to survive the advent of radio and television news, so too it can and should surmount the challenges of today’s on-line communications environment. So let’s give it room to breathe.


The Much Abused Apostrophe

Lynne Truss gave it the most apt of descriptions – a “satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes.” Her example was different but couldn’t have been more hilariously striking than this blue-bordered one-liner in today’s Ottawa Citizen’s proud full page ad for Real Canadian Superstore:


Seeing full page ads in any newspaper is a happy occasion nowadays for those of us who cling to the timeless custom of daily subscriptions and faithful perusing of its contents from cover to cover. No question that such advertising spreads catch the eye of even the least fervid of shoppers.

But there is a price to be paid for thus snaring the consumer – beware of dumb and silly mistakes in whatever you choose to print.

Reading all the way to the bottom of a full page ad may well be an uncommon experience but on this occasion it was probably fated to happen. Fact is that lately I have been re-reading that delightful British #1 best bestseller Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss’s witty exposition of what she calls “the zero tolerance approach to punctuation.” Her book is chock full of bizarre but all too familiar examples of the savagery with which countless offences against the fundamentals of English grammar are committed in everyday parlance and publishing.

Putting apostrophes where they don’t belong may be one of the least forgivable of such transgressions. It’s almost as bad as the nearly universal ignorance of the difference between it’s and its!

(Just a moment – my Word spell checker dared to tell me I had to change that it’s to its. No wonder the world’s ignorance so easily thrives!)

If only everyone understood that it’s is merely another way of saying it is. However its denotes possession just like his and her. Oh well, enough about grammar.

But please, let’s not let advertisers get us sticklers on their backs when they should really know better.

Or maybe just hire a copy editor!


PM in action

PM in action

What makes a public speaker go wrong?

How about a tendency to intersperse spoken words with that most tentative of hesitations – an “ah.”

It is a significant pause in delivery, occasioned usually by the speaker’s inability to project his thoughts far enough ahead to deliver a complete sentence.

Well may it be a totally unconscious habit which the speaker has not thought to correct. Or one that his family and friends have refrained from bringing to his attention.

A trait forgivable perhaps within family circles, but hardly tolerable in a public figure.

Like, say, the Prime Minister of Canada.

Especially one who appears almost hourly in one public dais or another from coast to coast and beyond.

Yet, hearken ye acolytes to what the Justin voice projects before the public ear!

Listen closely when he speaks off the cuff to reporters or to audiences great and small.

Just count how many “ahs” punctuate his vocabulary in a delivery otherwise quite articulate.

Whether one is fan or foe, hearing such oratorical no-nos from the lips of a country’s leader gives one pause – no pun intended!

The “ahs” in his unscripted utterances, once you begin to notice them, become totally distracting.

Maybe all he needs is someone bold enough to warn him off his hesitating habit.

Or, perhaps – dare we say it – tell him to take a lesson on the dos and don’ts of public speaking?

It’s – ah – never too late!



sophisticated socks

sophisticated socks

Ever get to the stage that all you can think of is:

Now I’ve seen it all?

Even when all you’re doing is picking up a new pair of socks.

Putting quirky colours on them is one thing.

just socks

just socks

Quirky names even more so.

And giving directions on how to put them on is not even new any more.

Not since TGIF became a sort of household word.

What weary office worker has never uttered the term in sheer relief at the end of one’s work week?

Thank God it’s Friday! Or just TGIF, for short

Did you know there are websites today devoting all one’s attention to the various meanings of that now quite common expression?

One of them lists off about 28 variations, most of them embarrassingly innocuous.

Saved only by one inclusion: Tadpoles Grow Into Frogs.

But let’s come back to socks.

With socks, TGIF takes on an entirely different, albeit instructive, meaning:

Toes Go In First.

All very useful, no doubt, especially for those afflicted in some way with directional shortcomings.

But now, someone has come up with yet another embellishment, calculated to comfort the more hesitant of our breed when faced with the everyday task of donning a pair of socks.

Just mark them cleary L for Left and R for Right.

We can now decide at a glance which one to put on the left foot, and which on the right.

Ahh, such sublime satisfaction in putting’s one’s best foot forward as a new day dawns.

Surely it’s not GOO-SHOO!

Unless it has changed drastically since I lived in Newfoundland, no one today seems to know how to pronounce “Gushue.” Yes, as in Brad Gushue, yesterday’s acclaimed winner of the Brier, Canada’s prestigious curling championship.

Brier Winner Brad Gushue

Brier Winner Brad Gushue

But what did he ever do to deserve getting his surname pronounced to sound like getting something sticky on his shoe – GOO-SHOO? That’s what countless TV people call him all the time. I groan in disbelief every time I hear it.

I knew several people bearing that proud surname – among them Dr. Ray Gushue, the first President of Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Bill Gushue, a friend from those long ago university days – but it was always pronounced “GUH-ZHU” with the emphasis on the first syllable. Not rhyming with, but much like, “cashew,” with the U sound as in “cushion.”

The Gushue name which has been known in Newfoundland since the 18th century is believed to be of Breton origin.


Daylight Saving Centennial

Sunday’s inauguration of daylight saving time marks a notable milestone in history – the 100th anniversary of its introduction in what was then the self-governing colony of Newfoundland. When that occurred in 1917, Newfoundland became one of the first countries in the world to turn its clocks back to gain more daylight in winter working days. It followed the pioneers in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Britain who adopted it a year earlier. Canada only started it in 1918, although some cities had done so earlier. Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay) made the move in 1908.

Since Newfoundland exclusively occupies its very own time zone, it is first in line in North America to ring daylight saving time in for another season. Its unique time zone exists because of the island’s location and its politically independent status when time zones were established.

My Dad never spoke of daylight saving time. He always called it, rather derisively, John Anderson’s time. That’s because it was politician Hon. John Anderson who persuaded the Government of Newfoundland to implement daylight saving. Then, as now, it wasn’t universally acclaimed, but it caught on effectively from then on.

John Murray Anderson

John Murray Anderson

A Scot who came to Newfoundland in 1875, John Anderson had one other claim to fame. He was the father of John Murray Anderson, who moved from St. John’s to New York where he won lasting fame as an entertainment impresario on Broadway. In the heyday of the American musical in the 1920s and 30s, he was second only to Florenz Ziefield as one of the great producers.

A Lady Anderson look alike

A Lady Anderson look alike

But he’s not to be confused with David Murray Anderson who served as Governor of Newfoundland in the 1930s. My Dad must have been impressed by him, or at least his family, when it came time to christen a unique facility which served our family’s needs at our summer bungalow in Kelligrews. Used for three or four seasons before he had indoor facilities installed, the sturdy wooden outhouse erected a hundred yards or so away in the back garden, was reverently dubbed, and frequently referred to as, the “Lady Anderson.”



Bought my yearly income tax kit the other day. Figured it had to be something special because the package containing it was just huge! Fully one and a half inches deep!

But inside, merely a tiny CD probably one tenth of an inch thick! Go figure!

Intuit’s Turbo Tax software has worked fine for us for years, but why in the world does a wafer thin CD have to be encased in a box big enough to hold a pair of gold bricks?

Smarten up, and lighten up, Turbo people, please!

Escape Into Winter

Never before having voiced a grump about Trump despite all the uproar, I yield at last to the temptation as the world cringes in terror on the day of his inauguration. So many thoughts leap into one’s head. Will anyone ever again doubt H.L. Menken’s sour commentary – No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public? Will anyone but Conrad Black contend the Donald will really become a good thing? Will media social and otherwise tire at last of highlighting the twit’s torrents of tweets?P1070334PW

winter sky

winter sky

Verily, all of us deserve a prolonged hiatus of news, views and mindless gossip having anything to do with the goings on in and about the new age west wing, Trump Tower. Let’s think back to the good old days before twitter and all its cohorts were even dreamed about, and revel instead in the glories of our Canadian winter.


upside down icicles!

upside down icicles!



Bob Cole Tells A Good Story

9780670070121[1]WA few years ago I asked Bob Cole to help in reminiscing about our shared experience working at VOCM, Newfoundland’s pioneer private radio station in St. John’s. That was in the mid-1950s, before he began his 50 year career as Canada’s premiere hockey play by play announcer.

Harveys-News-07Edit3PW I told in my book, Yesterday’s News, about Bob’s practising hockey broadcasts on tape in between broadcasting chores – he was determined to break into the big time even then, and achieved his goal with great distinction. A picture he sent me for my book showed him, not in his hockey role, but as member of a VOCM rowing crew in the annual St. John’s Regatta.

Now it’s my turn to welcome Bob’s own lively memoir celebrating his fabulous career in hockey broadcasting. It is titled modestly enough “Now I’m Catching On”, a phrase he used to mark his progress in learning his play by play knowhow. My copy was a welcome family Christmas gift from my journalist son Ron.

VOCM Regatta crew

VOCM Regatta crew

What I liked right from the start in his book is the artless manner in which Bob Cole described his life history, written almost exactly as he talked. Even though he credits the writing to journalist Stephen Brunt, I found the wording and phrasing much as I remember Bob’s manner of speaking. I can relate very well to much of what he described about his early life, having grown up in the same era and known many of the same people – we even played hockey against each other.

yesterdays_news[1]WI have long admired Bob’s persistence in grounding his career, despite its endless travel commitments, in his home town of St. John’s, and in his family. For all of his exciting experiences, he retained his down to earth personality which doubtless had much to do in shaping his career success.

I enjoyed every bit of reading “Now I’m Catching On” and recommend it to anyone who appreciates a truly genuine success story.