April 22nd, 2024

Noteworthy: Medicine Hat is making big news for the wrong reasons

By Bruce Penton on March 27, 2024.

Medicine Hat is in the provincial spotlight for a couple of unsavoury reasons. Former police chief Mike Worden is suing the city for $1.85 million after he resigned under a cloud of allegations in 2022, and Mayor Linnsie Clark has essentially been sent to her room with a spanking and a severe pay cut. Both cases involve information and severity far above my pay grade, so I’ll just say it’s too bad the city wasn’t making headlines for more positive reasons.

– Scientific data reportedly says the closure of schools in the early days of COVID-19 didn’t do much to stop the spread of the disease, but that the time away from the classroom may have caused long-term academic harm for children. One teacher I talked to recently said she doesn’t necessarily agree with the report, but says the lack of social interaction between students may have been more harmful than the academic angle.

– Hot stuff: In case you’re sitting on the fence when it comes to discussions of global warming, here’s a tidbit to munch on: February was earth’s hottest February since records began to be kept. It’s the ninth straight month for a heat record to be set. Sea water temperatures are also breaking records. “It’s not just that the global average sea surface temperature has been record-breaking every single day … It’s the absurdly large margins by which the records have been broken,” Brian McNoldy, a senior researcher at the University of Miami,” told Axios.

– The calendar said spring arrived last Thursday, but for baseball fans in Medicine Hat, spring starts tomorrow, when the Blue Jays open the 162-game Major League Baseball regular season in Tampa Bay against the Rays. The Jays, who were a respectable 89-72 last year, are hoping to improve on that and qualify for the post-season. It may not be easy, with two of their top relievers, Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson, both on the injured list to start the season.

– As an old (former) news editor, the ‘less-vs.-fewer’ usage in the English language is one of the most abused. It’s quite easy to remember: If things can be actually counted, use ‘fewer.’ If it’s quantity of things that are measured, then ‘less’ is the word to use. ‘Fewer houses’ or ‘fewer grains of sand’, but ‘less water’ or ‘less heat.’ It’s safe to say I read or hear the wrong usage of ‘less’ or ‘fewer’ at least once a day. To me, it’s like fingernails being scratched on a blackboard. Fewer abuses would make me less stressed.

– The news site Axios reports that Gen Z’ers get the bulk of their news from TikTok. Quite a change from the days of Knowlton Nash, Lloyd Robertson, Peter Mansbridge and Walter Cronkite. So there’s an identifiable generation gap between a senior like myself and a Gen Z person. I get zero per cent of my news from TikTok. And the more I read about kids and smartphones, the more I believe the experts who say kids should avoid social media – or at least have it closely monitored by parents – until they’re 16 or so. A recent story on Axios about this subject said “A shocking number of American kids are sad, suicidal and stuck on small screens sucking away their zest for life.”

The story went on to say that it’s because adults want their kids to have phones so they can be contacted during the day but the adults are also the ones pleading with their kids to put the phones down. The state of Florida has actually acted in this regard. Gov. Ron DeSantis this week signed a bill banning anyone under the age of 14 from using all social media platforms and for those teens aged 15 and 16, parental consent is required. Monitoring online content for young people is a good idea, but an outright ban? Sounds excessive.

– Conspiracy theory? A reader from Saskatchewan has some political concerns and I’ll share them without comment, other than to say ‘verrrrrry interesting.’ “A news clip on CTV spoke to the push by foreign and domestic ultraconservatives to take control of the political system. Says he/they got rid of Jason Kenney, put Danielle Smith in power and now with her help (are) taking over municipal politics. The money that is flowing to this effort is the same that funded the Freedom Convoys. I am writing to you because I don’t think Alberta is ready for a one-party system that is controlled from south of the border (the blind faith that Trump is spouting). There has to be checks and balances to any democracy.”

Bruce Penton is a retired News editor who may be reached at brucpenton2003@yahoo.ca

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