Categories
education

Bill 15 Will Drastically Change Public Education in Alberta

Tonight I received the following email from the ATA. Our provincial government is going to end up making public education a lot more expensive and a lot worse for students.

There is one issue facing public education in this province right now that has the potential to irreversibly damage our education system more than anything else.

Bill 15 cleared second reading this week and it is expected to be passed before May 12.

Can you help get the word out about this bill by forwarding this email to five friends?

“Citizens of Alberta should be concerned. Everyone who cares about the province’s history of excellent education should be concerned,” says Dr Myer Horowitz, who has served as the President of the University of Alberta and dean of their Faculty of Education. “Everyone who wants classroom teachers to have a bias for professional practice should be concerned.

Former Alberta education minister David King says, “(Bill 15) would be a serious mistake, with a multitude of unintended negative consequences and no material upside.

Retired ATA CEO Dr Gordon Thomas says, “these actions will destroy what’s left of what was once the world’s top English-speaking education system. A professional collegial culture, where teachers are supported in their work, will be replaced with a management-labour culture where teacher technicians are directed.”

Brett Cooper, assistant superintendent for Pembina Hills School Division says, “maintaining the ATA’s dual role is central to protecting our public education system and the collegial approach that makes our profession so special in this province.

Richard Rand, a retired lawyer who has served on professional discipline committees for the law society, says, “the current, ATA-led, practices and procedures overseeing teacher discipline in Alberta represent as good, or better, a system governing professional discipline as any I have encountered in any profession.

And Albertans are opposed to it too. Public opinion polling from Environics Research shows that only 17 per cent of Albertans and 2 per cent of teachers trust the government most to uphold standards for the teaching profession.

Do you trust this government and this minister to provide fair and effective oversight for the teaching profession in Alberta?

I don’t.

Call or email your MLA. Tell them that you are opposed to Bill 15 and that passing it would be a huge mistake.

Categories
ethics

Donald McNeil Follow Up

Yesterday Donald McNeil published a follow up post about his firing from the New York Times on Medium. He blames a culture of hypocrisy and elitism and compares his forced apology to the controlling power of Chairman Mao.

(Previously)

Categories
entertainment

The Severance

We’ve been loving the show Severance. If you haven’t checked it out yet I highly recommend it.

Here’s the series synopsis:

Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives. When a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs.

It’s a psychological thriller and although if you asked me before I wouldn’t have thought I’m particularly a fan of the genre, however, this show hits me just right. I think part of the appeal is the alluring conception of deleting a job from one’s memory that you may not love as much as the rest of your life.

Anyway, a large part of the show takes place in an office environment and so, as is inevitable, here’s a remixed title sequence but with music from The Office.

(via Kottke.org)

Categories
Miscellaneous

The Downfall of Westjet

After the fiasco of trying to get our money back from the cancelled trip over the Christmas holidays I had sworn off WestJet but, alas, our Easter trip will use the travelbank money from that trip so I’ll kick the decision of what airline to use next time down the road.

I won’t get into the boring details, but let it be a lesson, dear reader, gone is the WestJet of years past. It makes me sad to say the Calgary company is easily just as bad as the other airlines. They’re not afraid to lie when it comes to taking your money.

Categories
space

Chinese Rocket Hits the Moon

That mystery rocket debris floating around in space, which was once thought to be from Space-ex, it turns out was from China. It collided with the moon yesterday and left a crater up to 20m wide.

From The Verge story:

Originally, space trackers thought it was a leftover piece of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that had launched a weather satellite back in 2015. But after careful analysis, various groups of space trackers confirmed that the rocket was likely leftover from the launch of China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission — a flight that launched in 2014 to test out technology needed to bring samples back from the Moon. That mission, launched on a Chinese Long March 3C rocket, sent a spacecraft looping around the Moon in an attempt to see if China could send a vehicle to the Moon and then bring it back to Earth. Given the flight profile of the Chang’e 5-T1 mission and the tracking of the mystery object, astronomers are fairly certain that a chunk of the Long March 3C rocket has remained in an extremely elongated orbit around Earth ever since, only to find its way to the far side of the Moon.

The moon does a pretty good job of sweeping up space debris that’s way out there.

Categories
war

Time to Act

The more I think about it, the more I think the world needs to intervene in Ukraine. If Russia continues annexing neighbors, isn’t it better to act now than later? Where are the pundits that believe Putin is going to stop?

Categories
article war

A Prayer for Volodymyr Zelensky

I keep going back and forth on whether the Russian invasion really is the start of the Third World War. I suppose once Russia completes the takeover of the eastern portions of Ukraine they might stop, but it’s like RISK. As everyone knows, nobody who takes over Ukraine with a large army ever stops there. This is going to be the Third World War.

Last week the Atlantic published a piece about the unlikely Ukrainian President and his fortitude.

Before he became the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky played the part on television. He created and starred in a comedy series, Servant of the People. His character, a high-school history teacher, is surreptitiously recorded by one of his students as he passionately rants against the tyranny of corruption in his nation. Without his knowledge, the video goes viral. Without campaigning or even wanting the job, the teacher is improbably elected president of Ukraine. The humble Everyman, out of his depths in nearly every respect, goes on to become a heroic leader of his country.

Zelensky might be the hero Ukraine needs but as for the rest of the world, there needs to be some tough choices. It’s going to be just like it was in the Second World War, and once again we’re going to wait too long.

Categories
article history

The Quebec Cannonball in a Tree

The other day I learned that the tourist attraction and historical artifact, an English cannonball in a Quebec City tree is no longer there. I also learned that it probably wasn’t a cannonball, although it was likely built to be a bomb (at one point).

CBC posted the article about its history and removal last year:

It took three days of hard work, but the famous “cannonball” trapped in the roots of an American elm tree on the side of a historic street in Quebec City has been removed without any booming surprises.

Below is a photo I took of the famous tree in 2010. I was told it is believed that the ball was a cannonball shot at the French from an English ship during the multi-year siege before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Historian Jean-Marie Lebel did his own investigation into the unmarked ball and published his findings in the June 2015 article for Prestige magazine which can still be found online.

He determined the cannonball is not a cannonball at all as those tended to be smaller and made of lead.

The ball is actually a bomb, he wrote.

Bombs like this one were hollow, metallic projectiles which were charged with an incendiary material like a cloth rag and ignited with a fuse.

So if it wasn’t a cannonball fired into the city by the English in 1759 in the siege before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, then how did this “bomb” get there?

The ball was likely there on purpose, installed as a wheel guard to protect homes from passing carriages, the article says.

These retrofitted bombs were affixed to a metal rod that was then inserted into the ground like the bollards of today that can stop trucks in their tracks.

A photo from 1908 shows bombs which have been transformed into wheel guards to protect the fronts of houses on Corps-de-Garde Street. (Courtesty of the Collection Gino Gariépy)

I liked it better when I thought it was fired there in the famous battle but I never should have fallen for it. For one thing, the “cannonball” would have had to have been there for 251 years when I saw it in 2010. Obviously the tree wouldn’t have been that old. Oh well, it’s satisfying to know the truth even if the fiction was more interesting.

Categories
news war

Russia Invades Ukraine

As you have likely heard, after many months of buildup, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Here’s news from Reuters, the NYTimes, AP, the Wall Street Journal and CNN.

From Reuters:

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday in a massed assault by land, sea and air, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.

Missiles rained down. Ukraine reported columns of troops pouring across its borders from Russia and Belarus and landing on the coast from the Black and Azov seas.

Ukrainian troops fought Russian forces along practically the entire border, and fierce fighting was taking place in the regions of Sumy, Kharkiv, Kherson, Odessa and at a military airport near Kyiv, an adviser to the presidential office said.

I’ve been talking to some friends about this buildup and the question keeps coming up as to what Putin’s end game is in all this. I think it’s safe to say Putin is a psychopath with an obsession to reunite the USSR at whatever the cost. As much as this is a simple comparison, it fits — if you’ve ever done well in the board game Risk, you know the feeling where you just want to keep conquering. I predict Putin, with his victory in Crimea, will act just like he’s playing Risk. He’ll keep going until he’s captured the continent.

In the Second World War as he kept conquering country after country the news insisted Hitler was finally done. We know how that ended. I can’t imagine a scenario where Putin will just stop if he can keep going.

Categories
Apple

Daring Fireball

Daring Fireball is one of my favourite websites. Yesterday, I stumbled upon this post in which John Gruber explains the origin for the site’s unique name.

When I was very young, first grade/kindergarten or something like that, in the late 70s, Evel Knievel used to have regular specials on ABC. He’d jump overseas fountains or trying to jump over Grand Canyon or something. And I loved Evel Knievel. I thought that was America — just great. A guy on a motorcycle doing crazy stuff.

And the first thing I ever would answer ‘What’d you wanna be when you grow up?’ was I wanted to be a daredevil stuntman. I wanted to get shot out of a canon. This is my idea — instead of a motorcycle, I would do like Evel Knievel except getting shot out of a canon. And instead of just being in a tent in a circus and getting shot in to a net, I would do like Evel Knievel, go to landmarks around the world and get shot over them or in to them or shoot myself into an open window on the 47th floor of the Empire State building. And I came up with the name Daring Fireball.