I still remember walking in front of the Dodge dealership in Summerside when I was just an early teen, and seeing a poster that proudly proclaimed: “You won’t find these on Ford or Chev!”

Wow! Until then I thought that in advertising you never made any comment about the rival company, certainly never, ever, mentioned their name. I consulted a teacher at my school, and he assured me that they were not breaking any rules, as long as what they said was actually true—you wouldn’t find those things on Ford or Chev.

I re-checked the poster the next time I went by, and sure enough, the items mentioned were things like “torsion bar suspension” that Ford and Chev did not use at all. I found the idea of that poster, at a time when opponents were almost never mentioned in ads, to be quite intriguing. Perhaps obvious stuff, but to me clever marketing. Only a few people likely looked in detail at what they were mentioning, but the hidden message was there—Dodge was ahead of Ford and Chev in its innovations. I’ve always been interested in language, and I’ve always carried an interest in how a society makes use of language at its apparent highest level—advertising!

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Winter… auggh!

Bloody cold out there this morning… not that I have much right to complain, since my judgment is made from looking out the window and one trip in shirtsleeves to refill the bird feeder, but I can easily see and feel that it’s bitter. I’m sure my wife, who went off to work, will attest to that, but I don’t want to provoke any comments, however justified they might be.

Windy, which is the real killer I guess, since I’m probably at the warmest place in the Maritimes, at about -9 degrees Celsius at the moment, while the temperature drops precipitously toward a -25 in Northern New Brunswick. They can have it, snowmobiles, trails, winter fun and all.

The little birds are clustered outside on the food tray, feathers puffed out while the snow blusters around them. In spite of the cold (or maybe because of it) they still have the energy to fight for position as though some of them could protect the pile of seed for themselves alone through the rest of the winter. Some kind of little finches are there now, I guess, not one of the few breeds I can identify, since I’m new to this bird watching stuff. There’s a flock of Grosbeaks around as well, and they take over for a time, while a few little Chickadees manage to flit in and out when no one else is looking, or come down onto the deck below for the scatterings.
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Telling the World

Last week Dalhousie University issued a memo to students warning them about the possible dangers of “social networking” sites, the primary one being Facebook. Dal staff estimate that the majority of Dalhousie students are registered with Facebook, and it seems that majority membership extends also to high schools and other institutions, plus the millions of older adults who have joined the craze.

Dalhousie’s warning, and its concern comes from a lack of control of the data students and others enter into sites like Facebook. The university is struggling with Facebook groups such as a recent one that protested experimentation with animals that may or may not be taking place at Dalhousie. The “may or may not” comes from the situation with online pages where someone can espouse any theory without the need for proof, and in many cases, it is difficult to even locate the poster let alone change the material or possibly prosecute. Someone recently compared the Internet to the old west, where law was a thing so difficult to enforce that people just made the best of it. Many governments have looked at the issue of controlling the Internet, but none have figured out how to do it. While Facebook does generally indicate the actual identity of each person (which can be a problem in itself), it doesn’t always do so, and other areas like web-based email addresses can be hiding places where anyone can shoot sometimes vicious arrows at people with relative safety. Most school struggle with “cyber bullying” emanating from Hotmail email addresses, and find on inquiry that Microsoft Hotmail will not release identifying information (if that is in any way true) without a court order from a US Judge.

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