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Monday 30 April 2012

Uncle Gnarley Addresses Annual Meeting ‘Royal Order of Old Farts’.

My Friends:

Finally, I get to address one of the most maligned groups in our Province. 
My mission, is to correct the erroneous impression that you are causing the unpleasant aroma that has become so pervasive, recently.  It is an impression with which you have been saddled, both in the media, and with certain groups.  The truth, my friends, is right under our noses.

My comments speak to the need for government to take responsibility for this unpleasant aroma.  Government should seek the necessary medication, and swallow it, hard.  It just won’t do to blame the very people on whom the aromas have the greatest negative effects. 

I speak to you at a fortuitous time for it has become evident that the people, themselves, keenly acknowledge that an odor is pervading the land; happily, they also are increasingly awareness of its source.

This realization usually follows an election, when people have a tendency to second guess themselves.  It is a perfectly normal reaction; voter remorse is an all too common fact of democratic life.

Thursday 26 April 2012


“I like taking my daily constitutional.  In fact, Nav, I walked the other day, along my favourite coast line, Cape Spear, when I spied two mates paddling along in those ‘tippy’ boats; kayaks, I believe, you call them. 

“I might not have noticed but for the commotion that was evident, both on sea and in the air; there were, in fact, no fewer than two offshore vessels engaged in manoeuvres with fast rescue craft within easy reach and a helicopter airborne; my first thought was that you, Nav, were out for a little sport and took the entire Newfoundland navy for protection”!

Somehow, I knew no compliment would be forthcoming!

Wednesday 25 April 2012


(In the last item, Uncle Gnarley reviewed JM’s submission to the PUB and comments on Nalcor’s use of inappropriate econometric modeling resulting in an incorrect determination of electrical demand to justify building the Muskrat Falls project.) 
Uncle Gnarley continues his narrative:

“Now, Newfoundlanders are not that different from Albertans or Torontonians, or the British or the Scots, Uncle Gnarley offered. Like the rest of the world, we have purchased all sorts of modern conveniences; but, in the same way your car needs less gas today to drive one kilometer, technology did not stand still in the electrical field either.  What is interesting, is the fact that many of these appliances need less electricity to operate now than they did just a couple of years ago. So, even you, Nav”, Uncle Gnarley delighted in emphasizing, “can see how the problem begins to build”. 

Add to this the fact, if you will, that 33% of our population will be about 65 years old by 2025 (we’re a group not exactly preoccupied with having babies at our age are we, laughed Uncle Gnarley heartily, as if both to mock Nalcor and recall some misspent years).  Recognize, too, that our rural areas are being decimated literally in front of our eyes! Given these and many other considerations, Nav, the problem of forecasting becomes vast, indeed”.

“Now the kicker is, as our man JM points out, Nalcor wants to extrapolate, based upon the demand forecast for 2010-2029, the power required for the years 2029-2067.  Now, that’s a mugs game, if ever there was one”.

Monday 23 April 2012


The large and thoughtful mantle of Uncle Gnarley came awake just as I, too, was regaining consciousness.  The bottle of Springbank, Gnarley’s favourite of ‘beneficial vapors’ had worked its magic and gave us both a little respite from each other’s insistent consideration of the Muskrat Falls issue. 
I had almost regretted removing the cork, in the first place, except I knew that this particular ‘elixir’ was one which improved his normally obnoxious demeanor. 

Knowing Gnarley, he likely felt that, with every sip, he was exacting proper reward just for sharing his enormous intellectual assets. 

“Now, Nav”, said Uncle Gnarley, in a less than perfect Scottish brogue, “pour me another ‘wee dram’ and I will finish off my comments on this fellow, JM”.  As I did so, Gnarly proceeded to recite his dissertation.

Friday 20 April 2012

Uncle Gnarley on Objectivity and Altruism

“Nav”, says Uncle Gnarley, “there are still some serious economists who prowl the halls of academe”.  “Of course”, I volunteered, “our very own university boasts more than a few”.   “Yes”, says Gnarley, “several good ones, in fact; one or two who taught with me in the Department of Economics, are probably still around”.

“One of them is quite an advocate for Muskrat”, I ventured. “He seems to think the project is better than sliced bread, though he did seem to be a bit confused as to whether the cost of the transmission line was included in his numbers.  That’s a bit like buying a car and not being sure if it includes the motor, isn’t it, Uncle Gnarley”?  Needling the old Professor was a favourite pastime and I seldom passed up an opportunity to keep in check the ego of one who was deeply proud of his years engaged in the subject. “Do all you economists add up numbers that way”, my harangue continued, knowing I would pay a dear price later for such insolence.
Uncle Gnarley was completely non-plussed by my sudden charge on his profession.  “Now Nav, don’t confuse advocate and academic, as perhaps that professor may have; advocate and academic can be one and the same, but they rarely are”. “By jing”, says Gnarley, “the data had better be compelling when you try to do both.  There is a big risk of conflict”. 

Thursday 19 April 2012

Uncle Gnarley Has a Bee in His Bonnet

Barely twenty-four hours had passed since I had posted my new Web Site, when the urgent ring of my door bell spelled the arrival of an anxious Uncle Gnarly. “Nav, have you got a few minutes to speak with a worried old man”, he inquired.  Ignoring his favourite slur, Nav, I replied “Come in, Uncle Gnarley”. Even in a tizzy, Gnarly knew how to remind me of one of my biggest shortcomings. “Nav” was short for “Navigator”. He and I knew that I couldn’t find my way out of the woods with a compass; it was my one fear of the great outdoors, where Uncle Gnarley and I spent many a weekend communing with nature.
“What’s up”, I asked. Well, says he, I have been thinking about this Muskrat Falls thing and frankly, I think I should be concerned, if what I am hearing has even a ring of truth.  You are not the only one, Nav, who has a lot of questions about this scheme.  “Now look man, you know what politicians are like; well, don’t think that bureaucrats are any more enlightened.  I think, perhaps, I should take a closer look at the whole story. You’ve copied all those reports, not that they were of any use to the PUB.  Give them to me, ol’ boy, I must take a look at what those fellows at Nalcor are cooking; let’s see if they can fool ol’ Uncle Gnarley”. 

Monday 16 April 2012


Uncle Gnarley wasn’t keen on having his name on the banner of a political blog; not that he was shy or reticent about stating his opinion on any issue. Still, I planned that my thoughts, not his, might occupy the site.  That may have caused him the deepest scepticism. It was not as if my request were invoked by someone boasting blood kinship.  But ideas take on a life of their own.
You see Uncle Gnarley is not really my uncle.  I’m not even certain Gnarley' is his real name. 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, you see, “Uncle” has all the virtues and usage of the word “Skipper”; often conveyed upon someone as a term of respect or in recognition of certain endearing qualities.  Traditionally, an uncle need not be a sibling of either parent any more than a skipper need ever to have gone to sea.
When I first met Uncle Gnarley, I was trying to catch a few trout on the Salmonier River.  I practically tripped over the elderly gentleman; in the ensuing commotion I became a recipient of one of his renowned glares. 

You see when Uncle Gnarley sneers, his lip goes off into a most god awful curl; the effect is to render normal people, as it did me, into a state of instant terror.  But, fortunately, the condition is quite temporary.  When he chooses, the gruff, quarrellsome demeanor can become a soft, confident voice with a conditioning effect that suggests all is forgiven. I have learned, however, that if it is the soft and pleasant Gnarley you want, it is better to keep him on a 'politics-free' diet.

You will probably agree that is not likely in the current political atmosphere.