Social Studies 2.6.2017

America’s fast-food president likes it clean

Seventy-year-old U.S. President Donald Trump loves fast food. Big Macs. Buckets of KFC. Slices of pizza. And he hates exercise, which he doesn’t do often. America’s Fast-Food president isn’t setting a good example in the fight against childhood obesity and early onset diabetes.

Why does he eat so much fast food? In his own words:

“I’m a very clean person. I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going there (McDonald’s) than maybe someplace that you have no idea where the food’s coming from. It’s a certain standard,” he said.

Useless facts about electric cars B.C. will pay you to drive

The B.C. provincial government this week announced a $40 million investment to encourage people to drive electric cars. In addition, residents can save up to $11,000 if they trade their old car for an electric one.

The province’s Clean Energy Vehicles for B.C. program offers up to $5,000 for an electric vehicle purchase, and the non-profit B.C. Scrap-It offers and additional $6,000 dollars towards electric vehicles purchases. Vehicles priced above $77,000 are not eligible for purchase incentives.

Here are some electric car facts:

• The first cars ever made by Oldsmobile and Studebaker were electric.
• Electric cars outsold gas models by 10-to-1 in the 1890s.
• The world’s first automotive dealerships sold electric cars.
• Self-starters were introduced in electric cars 20 years before gas vehicles.
• The very first speeding ticket was given to the driver of an electric car.

Sarah Palin coming to Canada? We say (big gulp) No betcha!

There’s a rumor that President Trump might appoint the weird and absolutely nuts Sarah Palin as the U.S. ambassador to Canada. Aside from the fact that this makes many people want to throw up, she doesn’t speak Canadian or any of our other official languages.

Ottawa Citizen columnist Andrew Cohen wrote, “In Canada, Palin would have to learn to speak one of our official languages. She would have to live in a land of naïfs who favour immigrants, gay marriage, the United Nations and NATO.”

Let’s take a big gulp ourselves, and hope this is fake news, or an early April Fools joke.

Cumberland celebrates its heritage, while Comox destroys theirs

Heritage Week in British Columbia starts next Monday and runs through Sunday, Feb. 13 to Feb. 19. The Village of Cumberland will celebrate its history starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 18th, with the 13th annual Heritage Faire at the Cumberland Recreation Institute Hall. The Faire revives the spirit of a folk festival in the 1950s focused on the diverse heritage of Cumberlanders.

The Town of Comox, on the other hand, doesn’t have any heritage events planned that we know about. They just have anti-heritage events. Like the Town Council’s recent unanimous decision to beg the B.C. Supreme Court to release the town from the obligations it agreed to 35 years ago in accepting famous naturalist Hamilton Mack Laing’s property, house and money.

In spite of pleas from Heritage B.C. — the sponsor of Heritage Week — the Town of Comox wants to tear down Laing’s house, Shakesides, and use his money for other purposes.

Social Studies 1.30.2017

Proud of Washington state for first to sue Trump

I am so proud of my friend and Governor of Washington State, Jay Inslee, for denouncing President Trump travel ban on Muslims from certain countries. And for Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson for leading the nation in suing the Trump Administration over its actions against immigrants. And my birth-state of Minnesota joined the suit two days later.

A federal judge ruled in favor of the lawsuits and people from the affected countries can now apply for entry to the U.S.

“Judge Robart’s decision, effective immediately … puts a halt to President Trump’s unconstitutional and unlawful executive order,” Ferguson said. “The law is a powerful thing — it has the ability to hold everybody accountable to it, and that includes the president of the United States.”

I’m proud to have been publisher (and editor of our editorial page) of The Olympian, the only major daily newspaper in Washington state that endorsed Inslee for governor when he first ran in 2012. We also endorsed Ferguson. Both turned out to be excellent choices.

(The Olympian Editorial Board in December 2014, from left community members Jill Severn and Larry Jefferson, Gov. Jay Inslee, Publisher George Le Masurier, columnist John Dodge and state house reporter Brad Shannon}

Who’s at fault: drivers or cyclists for crashes?

Who’s at fault: drivers or cyclists for crashes?

Provincial Court Judge Peter Doherty handed down a fair decision in the case of Timothy Prad of Bowser, the motorist who struck and killed a bicyclist, Paul Bally of Fanny Bay, on the Old Island Highway about a year ago.

The judge found the motorist honestly thought he had hit a deer and had not left the scene to avoid arrest.

But in the court of public opinion, deciding whether cyclists or motorists generally bear more responsibility when the two collide would more likely result in a hung jury.

People who regularly ride bicycles believe motorists have the greater responsibility because they’re driving multi-ton vehicles at higher rates of speed. And there will be an equal number of motorists who blame cyclists who often act as if the rules of the road don’t apply to them.

Either side could count multiple research studies to support their point of view, which is why I like the 2012 report on cycling deaths in Ontario by the province’s chief coroner. The study reviewed the circumstances of 129 deaths resulting from collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles.

The report states, “In 71 percent of deaths (91 of 129), some modifiable action on the part of the cyclist was identified which contributed to the fatal collision. The three most common contributory cyclist actions identified were inattention (30 cases; 23 percent), failure to yield right of way (24 cases; 19 percent) and disregarding traffic signals (10 cases; 8 percent).”

The report also states, “In 62 percent of cases (64 of 104) in which the cyclist collided with a vehicle (defined as a motor vehicle, streetcar or train), one or more modifiable actions on the part of the driver were identified which were felt to have contributed to the death … The three most common contributory driver actions were speeding (31; 30 percent), driver inattention (29; 28 percent) and failure to yield (20; 19 percent).”

Those percentages don’t appear to add up because the chief coroner found that in almost half of the cases both the cyclist and the driver contributed to the accident.

In other words, the chief coroner found that 100 percent of the fatalities were preventable if both drivers and cyclists had exhibited more due care and attention.

Every day that I travel around the Comox Valley, I see cyclists blow through stop signs, often without even slowing down. I see cyclists with ear buds. I encounter cyclists riding abreast of each other on rural roads (a violation of the rules for cyclists under Section 183.2(d) of the Motor Vehicle Act).

I have even seen a cyclist press the stop light button on Comox Avenue at the St. Joe’s General Hospital crosswalk and then ride across while cars piled up in both directions (183.2(b)).

But I’m also a cyclist, who, at the peak of my competitive period, often logged in excess of 150 miles a week on Comox Valley and Campbell River roadways.

A driver on Dove Creek Road once passed within inches of me, causing me to lose my balance and crash. And when I regrettably offered up a one-digit salute, he stopped and, in a fit of road rage, came back to assault me.

On another ride to Victoria, a large RV with super-wide side-view mirrors passed me through a construction zone in Nanaimo where the roadway narrowed. It was surreal. I felt a slap on my back and then I was airborne, out of my pedals, catapulted into a well-located patch of thick foliage.

In both cases there was no behavior I could have modified to avoid those accidents. They were 100 percent driver error, in my opinion.

Cycling is an important component of the Comox Valley lifestyle and a growing tourism attraction. It’s also important to encourage cycling as a physical activity that contributes to healthy lifestyles.

A regional task force comprising representatives from the cycling community, motorists, law enforcement, municipalities and the Ministry of Highways could make recommendations to mitigate the safety concerns of cycling and encourage more people to participate in a healthy and environmentally friendly activity.

Maybe it could also prevent another unnecessary and tragic loss of life.

Cowboy makes a bid at a local livestock auction

Cowboy makes a bid at a local livestock auction

I have a series of photographs taken at a livestock auction somewhere north of Courtenay in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I took this image of a man raising his hand to bid at that time. For some reason I think it took place at the Norwood Equestrian Center, but the auction involved all kinds of livestock.

Does someone know the exact location of this auction and whether it still occurs? And if anyone recognizes this man, please leave a comment on this website or on the Decafnation Facebook page.

Letters provide new revelations in the ongoing Mack Laing saga

Letters provide new revelations in the ongoing Mack Laing saga

Two documents have recently surfaced that indicate the Town of Comox had discussions with the Comox Valley Natural History Society about creating a natural history museum in the home of Hamilton Mack Laing. The letters also indicate the society’s interest to take on responsibility for developing a park on Laing’s property.

You can read the letters here, and here.

The letters, written in 1979 and 1981, provide proof that Laing participated in getting assurances that the Town of Comox would carry out his last wishes if he bequeathed them his house, the bulk of his work as a naturalist and a significant amount of money to finance the endeavors.

Laing was an honoured figure in the CV Natural History Society and his caretaker nurse was Alice Bullen, also a member of the society and a Town councillor at the time. The letters show that Laing knew of the society’s communication with the town and supported it.

Up until now, the Town of Comox has claimed that all records and accounts of its dealings with Laing and his representatives have disappeared.

Laing was prolific naturalist, photographer, writer, artist and noted ornithologist, whose work from the Comox waterfront since 1922 earned him worldwide recognition.

Laing lived a Walden Pond lifestyle on several waterfront acres along Comox Bay from 1922 until his death in 1982. Laing was lesser known than Campbell River’s Roderick Haig-Brown, but to serious ornithologists, his work was more important.

When Laing died, he left the bulk of his work to the Town of Comox, and also his waterfront property, his second home (named Shakesides), and the residue cash from his estate “for the improvement and development of my home as a natural history museum.

But 35 years later, the town has done nothing to satisfy his last wishes, and the money Laing left to finance his legacy would have been used for other purposes.

One of the important revelations from the documents unearthed from Laing’s papers preserved at the B.C. Archives is that the town may have competed for the trust, or at least convinced Laing that they were the best holders of his trust.

That may be cause for the B.C. Supreme Court to regard the town’s breach of Laing’s trust as something more serious.

The Town Council voted unanimously this week to try to break Laing’s trust with an application to the high court that argues the trust is “no longer … in the best interests of the town.” The council wants to use Laing’s money to tear down his house and build a viewing platform on the site.

The town’s councillors obviously have little regard for heritage or respect for one of the community’s most famous former residents. Laing’s work and his home have received more support from outside the town.

An independent and nationally recognized heritage consulting firm says that the former home of the naturalist — known as “Shakesides” — is of national importance and should be saved for its historic value and for the enjoyment of future generations.

The chairman of Heritage B.C., a provincial agency committed to “conservation and tourism, economic and environmental sustainability, community pride and an appreciation of our common history,” believes the heritage value of Shakesides demands that Laing’s former home should be “conserved for … future generations” and that the Town of Comox should “use the building in ways that will conserve its heritage value.”

Heritage B.C. has offered its assistance, at no charge, to the Town of Comox, for the duration of the process to repurpose Shakesides, and pretty much guaranteed the town a provincial grant through the Heritage Legacy Fund Heritage Conservation program.

The two letters were discovered by Kate Panyatoff, a former president of the Mack Laing Heritage Society. She was doing research for the Comox Valley Nature’s Cultural and Heritage Group, which plans to publish some of Laing’s work.

Note: This article has been updated from the original post.