Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tips for Young Writers & Old Bloggers

A student in Law, a lay person representing himself in court, a journalist or even a serious blogger might well practice tips for writing “factums” by Ontario Judge, John L. Laskin in his 1999 paper, “Justice Done Dirt Cheap";

Tips for Young Writers & Old Bloggers

In our courts, the factum (written advocacy) is often more important than counsel’s oral argument. As Judge, Laskin says, writing concisely and well is hard work, but it enhances credibility while putting the judge in a receptive mood. This synopsis of his 1999 paper should benefit students and advocacy bloggers alike.

Always put yourself in the position of target reader(s). First, identify and frame the key issue. Don’t raise more issues than absolutely necessary. Research, think and write about “the” problem. Remember, the amount of detail depends on how narrowly or broadly you state the issue(s).

Begin with an overview statement of no more than one page, telling what the case is about, the main issues and your position on them. Use the first few paragraphs to put context up front so the decision maker can better absorb the details to follow. Provide enough facts in the overview to give context.

Point Writing
State your point or proposition before you develop it. Give context before details. Point writing should be used in every section and paragraph. And, try to restrict each new paragraph to one topic.

At the start of each paragraph, reveal the topic or idea about to be discussed. Be reader friendly and give the point first; usually it is your conclusion or submission on the issue. The remainder expands on the point, supports it or qualifies it. Always put the main point at the beginning or end of the sentence, not in the middle.

We absorb and recall information best when it is important and relevant. Readers skim if forced to read a lot of detail before knowing why it matters.

Since point first writing increases persuasiveness never resort to “point last" writing, or to "no-point-at-all" writing.

Headings, White Spaces, Etc.

Headings signal what comes next, and emphasize organization. In non-fiction, use superlatives at risk to your arguments and your credibility; the right verb or noun has far more impact. Likewise, restraint and understatement are more forceful than hyperbole.

Dismissing your opponent's position as frivolous and without merit is a mistake; far better to state his argument fairly –and then refute it.

Show preference for a concise style avoiding excessive use of adjectives and adverbs and limiting the passive voice. Long sentences are not wrong, they are just harder to understand and recall.

At draft stage, purge distortions and overstatements. Be wary of expressing the conclusion in superlatives. Identify and address obvious weaknesses; else, your opponent will. Also edit for accurate citations, typos, grammar and punctuation. Effective writing requires clear thinking and selection. Thherefore, prune excess facts, cut the fat and look for items that should be there.

Some words to avoid:
“It is respectfully submitted”, “completely wrong”, “clearly”
“It seems that”, “It is important to note”, “null and void”
Substitute “use” for “utilize”, “end for “terminate”, “did not remember” for “forgot” and “salary” for “remuneration”
For smooth flow and transition:
To express logical relationship: “because”, “therefore, “since.”
For contrast and comparison: “although”, “but”, “however.”
For progression: “next”, “also”, “first”, “second”, “finally.”
For a return to prior point: “still”, “nonetheless.”

Practicing the above improves one’s persuasion skills. Be sure to share it with fellow writers.
Much thanks goes to the Judge for the content of this post.

Here is an old post directed at new advocacy bloggers:

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Short Nuclear History Lesson

This post serves to wake-up voters in the Great Lakes watershed, and to challenge some honourable parliamentarians to look in the mirror and ask, What will be my leadership legacy on eventualities such as:
1. The impending energy revolution.
2. The real possibility of massive failure of nuclear reactors.
3. Your position on the call for phase out of all nuclear reactors.

South-western Ontarians and residents of US States bordering our Great Lakes, might read one journalist’s first-hand view of the remains of Scotland’s oldest nuclear plant:

Mr. Ray, the author, does not reveal the spent-fuel storage solution. But, he does stress the economic sales pitch to locals in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and the economic stimulus of a drawn-out demolition operation -offset by prospect of off-shore wind farms, and three centuries of landscape and seascape sterilization.

Scotland shut down the leaky Dounreay power plant, and appears to have a partial clean-up plan for the remote costal site. One would think this flawed experience on Scotland's bleak northern shore (and elsewhere), would alarm populations about the massive push for new nuclear complexes  on the UK's southern shore (Hinkley Point), and on Wales' northwest coast (Wylfa.) The original Wylfa reactors, which  ceased operation in December will take several decades to decommission.    

Meanwhile, in accommodating pressures from nuclear interests, the Province of Ontario extends nuclear electricity generation decades beyond original design limits, and agrees to a geologic nuclear waste dump on the shore of a lake providing drinking water to densely-populated areas. Re-read the July 2015 post:

Ignorance is no excuse. All high-level politicians should be aware of the benefits of Low Energy Nuclear Reactors (LENR) now being engineered and tested. The state of awareness and concern at the regional and municipal level is appauling. Putting desperate survival interests of nuclear firms ahead of long-term public safety is disgraceful -if not unethical.

Without a joint out-cry by citizens on both sides of the border, politicians believe they are only accountable for another one or two terms in public office. Yet, they set the stage for a Great Lakes disaster of historic proportions. As the following paragraphs attest, nuclear plants are both complex and accident prone*. Still, national regulatory authorities -other than Germany's- haven't shown the will to impose a sunset clause on a flawed industry.

Readers with unusual intestinal fortitude, read on:
Friends of the Earth Scotland said, "Once again, we see the nuclear industry causing a problem it can't solve, and dumping the cost and consequence on the rest of us."

It would be sad if public apathy results in a worse fate for Huron's shores, down wind  farms and  cities.  With media editors turning a deaf ear, politicians rightly ask, “Where is the consensus?” -while the region's doomsday clock ticks ominously (see update #3).  Ontario Power Corporation's ill-timed rush to refurbish ageing nuclear reactors -and to bury radioactive wastes along Lake Huron's shore defies sane policy making.
Poke around in Wikapeda's list of nuclear disasters if you think the Dounreay saga is an isolated example:
And, bear in mind that the UN and elite physcists promote proliferation of nuclear energy in spite of its spotty accident history, and the emergence of an affordable non-radioactive LENR alternative. Japanese researchers claim the LENR process could have a big role to play in reduction in surface stockpiles of nuclear wastes.

Anyone living near -or downwind- of a nuclear complex should familiarize themselves with the 24-hour window for potassium iodide pills. See warnings provided by the US Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

The historic record shows that nuclear is not affordable, clean or safe  -unlike LENR. In the face of such evidence, public apathy and inaction appears to verge on complicity.
Either write your Mayor and Member of Parliament now -or at least, share this post with those you care about; they are just a click away.

Scroll down for earlier posts

The misfortune tellers at Wikipeda report on generation II reactors:
"An interdisciplinary team from MIT has estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power from 2005–2055, at least four serious nuclear accidents would be expected in that period.[1][5]
To date, there have been five serious accidents (core damage) in the world since 1970 (one at Three Mile Island in 1979; one at Chernobyl in 1986; and three at Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011), corresponding to the beginning of the operation of generation II reactors. This is an average of one serious accident every eight years."

MIT doesn't seem to factor in deteoriating first generation reactors built between 1954 and 1970. If so, experts' average projection of one serious accident every 8 years is seriously understated -unless they assumed old reactors would soon be dismantled.

Update #1
NGO initiates legal action against Belgium's restart of reactors with cracked pressure vessels:

UPdate #2 London Free press ... excerpts Feb 12
A group opposed to construction of a nuclear waste vault beside Lake Huron is using Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's own words to sway him towards rejecting the plan:
“Social licence is more important than ever. Governments may be able to issue permits but only communities can grant permission.” Trudeau used the words in a speech to the Calgary Petroleum Club before he became Prime Minister and as he spoke about controversies surrounding the expansion of pipelines from Canada's oil fields. "Times have changed, my friends." He later went on to describe social licence as a public trust in which decisions are based on responsibility, public transparency and scientific rigour.
See full article here.

Update # 3 February 18
Minister Christine McKenna calls for a pause to allow Ontario Power Corporation to provide more information on alternative dump sites and impact assessments on proposed burial of highly radioactive waste.
She also provides a window for you, the public, to sound off on the fate of the DGR as well as the logic in renewing operational approval of dangerous old nuclear plants when emerging affordable and safe LENR technology is about to be deployed by Canada's major industrial competitors.

Update # 4 February 20

Update # 5 February 21 Andrea Rossi's E-Cat X reactors to be built in Florida.

Update # 6 ABB Corporation to provide robotics for E-cat x manufacture

Update # 7   President of Bruce Power moves back to the UK to direct the new build of six boiling water reactors for Horizon Nuclear-UK.
In his 15 years at the helm of Bruce Power, Duncan Hawthorne resurrected a number of shuttered nuclear plants, obtained contracts with the province to further refurbish reactors and ensure their authorized operation for decades to come -and advanced negotiations for a deep geological repository (DGR) for nuclear wastes.

 Update # 8
Old water leak at Fessenheim, France's oldest operating nuclear plant,  alarms Germany.

 Update # 9
According to The New York Times, Indian Point's two reactors are overdue for shut-down: