Sunday, May 24, 2015



After decades of editing and writing and thousands of columns,  I am sympathetic and understanding about typos and errors even in well-known facts, geography and judgment.
I ignore mistakes in grammar because too many fingers can be pointed at me.
But some times the Toronto Star, the largest newspaper in the country with hundreds of millions   unused in its wallet, really bugs me.
They can afford to hire more staff to eliminate the stupid stuff. And the Dick-and-Jane explanations and breathless columnizing really look dumb when they're wrong.
Let's start with something minor.
There was this feature about a red oak. I have oaks, some of which I planted at my house and cottage - I 'm fighting beaver big tooth and sharp claws over one - so I read on.
The Star said it was in Northern Etobicoke. So I thought I would drive up through the old suburb to take a look to see if it really was unusual. Then it said it was in Weston. I went to high school there so I was more interested.
Turns out it was not in Etobicoke or Weston but at Sheppard and Weston Rd., which is east of Etobicoke and north of Weston. So it was wrong twice! The area has a comparatively new name of Emery.
The Star explained at length about the swearing in of the new police chief.  So a crime reporter wrote about the sword used in the ceremony. Said similar swords had been used to swear in chiefs since the creation of Metropolitan Toronto in 1954.  Except Metro started in 1953.
The amalgamated force didn't start until 1957 and that was a major, not a minor, issue at the time.
 The Star listed the member municipalities which had crests and names engraved on the sword. Only 12 municipalities were listed. Somehow the City of Toronto, the largest, didn't make it.
Some female celebrity/peaceniks are invading the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea to get publicity for their cause.
All this was described excitedly by columnist Catherine Porter who told how she had read up on the DMZ for two whole days to find out how dangerous it was. She quoted others calling it the "scariest place on earth." It was a kindergarten rendering as if the DMZ had just been imposed last year and its initials were not world famous.
I am writing this looking at a strand of barbed wire from the DMZ on my wall. I have been there four times.  Three decades ago, the Sun used pictures of a North Korean officer there playing peek-a-boo with my long lens.
My wife Mary has been there.My three sons have been there. My youngest son Mark won a magazine photo contest for his pictures in North Korea.
Tourist tours to Seoul have been going there by the thousands for decades. I was at an International Press Institute forum in Seoul where 600 male and female delegates loaded into an army of buses to sightsee there. And that was nearly 20 years ago.
Why even our PM has been there, with the North Koreans staring in at him as if they had heard that he is the favourite politician of the Star.
 It's just being used now as a backdrop for some activists just like the latest demonstration at police headquarters. I suppose they can dance semi-clothed in the mine fields or do something really dumb or just wave a peace document they want everyone to sign as if no one has been trying to do that since Canadians died there.
But just like it was at the Berlin Wall for nearly three decades, go and gawk and pontificate and you are as safe as if you're in the bar back at hotel sipping expense account drinks. After all, Niagara Falls is dangerous too but completely safe unless you go wading.  I picked the giant falls deliberately because Porter who doesn't conceal her ignorance about the issue does concede the DMZ is a major tourist attraction.
I caution the peaceniks/activists that if they really want to get dramatic pictures and stick their hand in the maw of the dragon, they're not advancing the cause of peace but perhaps the need for more mental health counselling for celebrities.
C'mon Star, do better and maybe your stock will triple back to what it used to be before the ruling families ran it into the ground chasing such wounded targets as Rob Ford.
Wouldn't it have been nice if the taxpayers had saved a few million from that fruitless and useless police investigation of the sick mayor which was all prompted by the holier-than-thou Starlings?

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