Monthly Archive: December 2012

Dec 31

Some bright ideas are Canadian

It was New Year’s Eve in 1879 that Thomas Alva Edison unveiled his best known invention, but some bright ideas are Canadian first.

Edison’s incandescent bulb shone light on a new era as well as a new year.

Matt Evans was co-inventor of a working light bulb before Thomas Edison lit up the night with his on New Year's Eve, 1879.

Matt Evans was co-inventor of a working light bulb before Thomas Edison lit up the night with his on New Year’s Eve, 1879.

Thomas Alva Edison lit up the night on New Year's Even 1879 but two Canadians had the bright idea working first.

Thomas Alva Edison lit up the night on New Year’s Even 1879 but two Canadians had the bright idea working first.

That Thomas Edison — a great guy. He invented the light bulb and changed the way the world … um, not really. It’s sad but true. Two men from                            

Toronto, Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans, invented a light bulb before Edison. But they couldn’t get the financing they needed to get their invention from the lab to the store windows. So they sold the rights to their 1875 patent to Edison. In 1879, Edison demonstrated his light globe — one of the inventions most associated with his name. Like so many other great Canadian ideas, Woodward and Evans’s invention ended up going south.

The brain drain didn’t end there.

Henry Woodward was co-inventor of a working light bulb before Thomas Edison's bright idea.

Henry Woodward was co-inventor of a working light bulb before Thomas Edison’s bright idea.

When you think radio, you probably think Guglielmo Marconi.

And you probably think Canada’s role in the invention of the radio was to provide some real estate for the first intercontinental radio broadcast.

You’d be wrong.

First, the broadcast was made in Newfoundland long before it ever entered Confederation. And second, don’t think Marconi. Think Fessenden.

Reginald Fessenden was a Quebec-born inventor who, like many Canadian inventors, may have been a genius but could have used some help with marketing and publicity.

When Fessenden was growing up in Ontario, his uncle, a physics teacher, brought him to see Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, the year Bell invented the telephone. Fessenden liked the telephone but was curious about why it required wires to connect the two sets. Right then and there, Fessenden decided he was going to broadcast voices through the air.

And he did. Before Marconi.

In 1901, Marconi managed to send a radio signal across the Atlantic with the message in the dots and dashes of Morse Code. Marconi had a theory of why this happened, but it was wrong and Fessenden knew it. He recognized that a radio, to be useful, would need to use a standing wave; that is, it would have to broadcast continuously, not in little spurts of sparks as his contemporaries believed. Fessenden’s first speech broadcast was looked on with something like amusement — why use speech when you can spark off some dots and dashes? And other scientists ridiculed his theories of the continuous wave.

Fessenden’s first speech broadcast took place on December 23, 1900 — the year before Marconi’s trans-Atlantic transmission of dots and dashes. He transmitted his own voice over the first wireless telephone from a site on Cobb Island in the middle of the Potomac River near Washington, D.C.

In 1906, with Marconi still playing about with sparks and arcs and dots and dashes, Fessenden broadcast music and speech to ships in the Atlantic. In 1906 he also managed two-way voice communication between Scotland and Massachusetts.

Instead of getting rich, his backers seized his patents and pushed him aside. He sued. That took almost two decades to settle. When all was said and done, he won about $500,000 in damages and handed over about $300,000 in lawyers’ fees.

He wound up working in the United States building radios for that country’s military. In Canada, he couldn’t get the funding to do research. And when he tried to create a radio network in Canada, he was told he couldn’t. The Canadian government had given that privilege exclusively to Marconi — who was not a Canadian.

In 1929 Fessenden invented a television. He also developed a kind of sonar to help the world avoid another Titanic disaster by helping ships detect icebergs. The same invention came in handy during the First World War, helping ships detect submarines.

During that war, he also created a device that would allow the Canadian military to detect enemy artillery and determine its range and location. His sense of patriotism had brought him back to Canada and he was sent to work on the device in London, England. But the bureaucrats who approved purchases for the military weren’t interested. (A Canadian army officer later created a similar device out of necessity, at the front, driven by the horrific losses of men to German artillery.)

In all, Fessenden was a holder of more than five hundred patents. He was highly regarded in the United States. He was awarded money and recognition by the city of Philadelphia as “one whose labors have been of great benefit to mankind.” The Institute of Radio Engineers of America presented him with its medal of honour. The head of General Electric Laboratories called him “the greatest wireless inventor of the age — greater than Marconi.”

The New York Times wrote an editorial regarding Fessenden:

 

It sometimes happens, even in science, that one man can be right against the world. Professor Fessenden was that man. He fought bitterly and alone to prove his theories. It was he who insisted, against the stormy protests of every recognized authority, that what we now call radio was worked by continuous waves sent through the ether by the transmitting station as light waves are sent out by a flame. Marconi and others insisted that what was happening was a whiplash effect. The progress of radio was retarded a decade by this error. The whiplash theory passed gradually from the minds of men and was replaced by the continuous wave — one with all too little credit to the man who had been right.

In my lifetime, I developed over a hundred patentable inventions including the electric gyroscope, the heterodyne, and a depth finder. I built the first power generating station at Niagara Falls and I invented radio, sending the first wireless voice message in the world on Dec. 23, 1900.

But despite all my hard work, I lived most of my life near poverty. I fought years of court battles before seeing even a penny from my greatest inventions. And worst of all, I was ridiculed by journalists, businessmen, and even other scientists, for believing that voice could ever be transmitted without using wires. But by the time death was near, not only was I wealthy from my patents, and all of those people who had laughed at my ideas were twisting the dials on their newly bought radios to hear the latest weather and news.

In many American encyclopedia and reference books, he is considered an American Canadian, even though he never gave up his Canadian citizenship and when war was declared he returned to Canada to serve, although his genius had been ignored and gone unrewarded in his own country.

Even today the Encyclopedia Canadiana does not give him a separate listing. Mention of him is included only under the listing for his mother, Clementina, who established Empire Day in Canada. Reginald is mentioned as one of her four sons, “inventor of the wireless telephone, the radio compass and the visible bullet for machine guns, he also invented the first television set in North America in 1919.”

Still — no credit for the radio.

Aw, well, let’s head out for a drive.

On the weekend, you probably like to hit the road for the country for a picnic with your friends and family and take a few photographs with the McCurdy and …

What, you’ve never heard of a McCurdy?

Well you would have, had Arthur Williams McCurdy been as much businessman as inventor.

McCurdy was a genius when it came to inventions. One of them was a method of making pictures anywhere — not just taking them but making them. It was called the Portable Film Developing System, and McCurdy created it in 1890. A little ahead of his time.

Even so, thirteen years later, when the world caught up to him, he sold the patent to George Eastman. Yes, as in Eastman Kodak Co. It took decades for the first Polaroid cameras to come onto the market. And McCurdy was long forgotten.

Canadians have some bright ideas, sometimes it takes an American to shine a light on them.

For more on the light bulb, click here.

 

Dec 13

History of France in English podcast now available on iTunes!

The History of France in English podcast is now available on iTunes. The first episode deals with the history of wine in France, from its first historic mention about 600 BCE up to the end of the Roman occupation, including the destruction of the Gaul vineyards around 92 AD and the somewhat biased view of the Greeks and Romans towards the Gauls and their ability to grow grapes.

Check out the iTunes website by clicking here!

Historylab's Tom Villemaire has his new History of France in English podcast now available on iTunes.

Historylab’s Tom Villemaire has his new History of France in English podcast now available on iTunes.

Dec 11

Toronto scandals are nothing new, here’s why you shouldn’t let them ruin your Christmas

Toronto scandals?

Toronto is a world-class city.

So it does scandals big… um, yeah.

Ask any city politician.

Toronto scandals are nothing new. The city has survived weirdness long before Rob Ford became mayor.

Toronto scandals are nothing new. The city has survived weirdness long before Rob Ford became mayor.

Forget Rob Ford. He’s a rank amateur.

Toronto has had a world-class scandal that includes all the usual stuff of scandal — sex, abuse of power, stupidity, cupidity, and money — and, in a uniquely Canadian twist, a professional hockey player.

According to Justice Denise Bellamy, who was appointed to probe the scandal, what should have been a routine and even boring computer leasing contract ballooned into a complicated tale of greed, mismanagement, and lying.

The so-called Toronto computer leasing scandal ended up costing the city over $100 million. The biggest cost was the contract between the City of Toronto and MFP Financial Services for $40 million in computers and computer services. The city ended up spending more than $80 million under that contract.

How?

Well, to figure out that (and other aspects of the scandal) the city spent more than $19 million for a three-year inquiry, with witnesses including the treasurer, city budget chief, and a famous hockey player’s brother who worked for MFP. (The hockey player made an appearance at the inquiry to testify on his brother’s behalf.)

Justice Bellamy, who presided over the inquiry, said, “Some people disgraced themselves, failed in their duty to their City, lied, put self-interest first, or simply did not do their jobs.” The report contains more than 240 recommendations for preventing a repeat of the scandal.

Although MFP was not the only city supplier that seemed to cross conflict-of-interest lines, its name is the one most associated with the scandal, primarily because of its leasing contract with the city — a contract that didn’t have guaranteed lease rates and to which additional equipment was allowed to be added without proper approvals, some of the key reasons for the doubling of the price.

Since the beginning of the inquiry MFP has changed its name to Clearlink Capital Corp. By the summer of 2005, it had settled a number of lawsuits with other municipalities in the province.

During the inquiry Toronto decided it would not pay MFP any more money under its contract. But the city relented. In the fall of 2005, Toronto city lawyers recommended a further $9 million plus payout to MFP to settle its claims. After all, they had a contract.

Ah, good times.

But it doesn’t end there.

In July 2001, when Toronto lost its bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics, distraught city leaders wrung their hands and pointed their fingers.

Mayor Mel Lastman was the target of most of the finger pointing. Only a month earlier, before visiting Kenya to

Self-made man and the first mega-Toronto mayor, Mel Lastman was no stranger to the many challenges of running a world-class city. He saw his own share of Toronto scandals.

Self-made man and the first mega-Toronto mayor, Mel Lastman was no stranger to the many challenges of running a world-class city. He saw his own share of Toronto scandals.

promote Canada’s bid to the International Olympic Committee, Lastman noted, “I’m sort of scared about going there…. I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”

Many IOC members were shocked, especially those from Africa. Instantly, Canada had a worse human rights reputation than China, which is not an easy feat to accomplish. Lastman had helped cannibalize his own city’s bid. Beijing got the Olympics.

It wasn’t the first time bizarre incidents contributed to Toronto’s losing an Olympic bid. The city also failed to get the 1960 Summer Olympics.

City officials apparently lost the bid because they misplaced some paperwork. An official IOC application had been sent to the city in 1954. But no one filled it out. And no one could figure out where it had gone.

These days Olympic bids are fought and awarded with much front page hoopla. But when Toronto lost the 1960 bid, the news made it to page 28 of the Toronto Star on April 15, 1955. The story was not based on an announcement or even a press release. It was based on a letter from Harry Price, chairperson of the Canadian National Exhibition, to the city’s Civic Parks Committee. The Civic Parks Committee, not the mayor and a thousand others, was handling the Olympic bid. The letter from Price described a phone call he had just received from Sidney Dawes, the official Canadian representative on the IOC. According to Price, Dawes told him Toronto had lost the bid.

But Dawes had some good advice for future bids: always accompany the bids with a little gift for IOC members. Over the years, Dawes said, he had collected some very nice gifts from cities competing for the Olympics.

Decades later, a scandal erupted over the awarding of gifts to IOC members by the organizers of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. IOC members were offered cash and scholarships, trips to Disney and Las Vegas, and tickets for the Superbowl.

But this story was taking place in 1955, and the gifts back then were more understated. It’s always a “very nice gesture,” Dawes advised the Toronto bidders, to send each IOC member a lighter with the city crest on it.

Why, if things continued that way, scandals in Toronto would cost taxpayers dozens of dollars!

Mel Lastman has a very interesting blog to check it out, click here.

Dec 09

Whether you’re a botanist or prime minister, math is hard

Let’s face it, math is hard. Barbie and Christopher Walken (as the befuddled apartment dweller in the SNL census sketch) are right.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are getting slagged for their arithmeticatical

Prime Minister Stephen Harper should feel bad if he finds math is hard. Even stellar minds like David Douglas had problems grappling with concepts of math and elements of surveying.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper should feel bad if he finds math is hard. Even stellar minds like David Douglas had problems grappling with concepts of math and elements of surveying.

acumen for the F-35 handling. Maybe, like Walken he’s ‘not really good at math’.

How much will the F-35s cost?

‘Oh geez, I dunno, maybe $9 billion.’

Wow, that seems awful cheap for such high tech kit!

‘I’m not really good at math. Maybe $40 billion.’

The Conservatives have claimed for years the cost of the F-35 was being puffed up by critics. The the parliamentary budget officer weighed in. He said the Conservatives were not accurate in their cost estimates.

Well relax folks. There are lots of other smart folks who are flummoxed by math.

Take esteemed botanist, David Douglas. He’s famous for a bunch of things, including having a tree named after him.

“Being well rested by one o’clock, I set out with the view of ascending what seemed to be the highest peak on the north,” wrote Douglas during his crossing of Athabasca Pass in 1827.

“Its height does not seem to be less than 16,000 or 17,000 feet [5,000 metres] above the level of the sea.”

On top, about seven hours after he started climbing, he noted, “The view from the summit is of too awful a cast to afford pleasure. Nothing can be seen, in every direction as far as the eye can reach, except mountains towering above each other, rugged beyond description. This peak, the highest yet known in the northern continent of America, I feel a sincere pleasure in naming ‘Mount Brown,’ in honour of R. Brown, Esq., the illustrious botanist.”

Douglas noticed a mountain to the south, almost as high.

“This I named Mount Hooker…”

So went Douglas’s record of discovery of the highest points in Canada, indeed in all of North America. Or so everyone thought for the next seventy years.

David Douglas found that math is hard and so are other elements of surveying. Luckily as a botanist, that wouldn’t hinder his success.

Apparently, Douglas had based his estimates of the heights of the mountains on those of an earlier traveller who had lost his barometer.

Douglas didn’t have the best eyesight, but he would have been hard pressed not to have noticed that other mountains in vicinity were obviously taller than those he named Brown and Hooker.

When Douglas’s book and associated maps recounting his experiences in Canada’s mountains were published, Mount Brown and Mount Hooker became well known.

The two mountains became alpine seductresses, always calling but hard to visit.

“A high mountain is always a seduction but a mountain with a mystery is doubly so … I studied the atlas and saw Mounts Brown and Hooker … [and] I longed to visit them,” wrote Toronto geology professor Arthur Coleman.

In 1893, during his third summer of explorations, Coleman finally reached the pass where the mountains were supposed to rise, but the highest mountain he could find nearby was only about 2,800 metres high.

“What had gone wrong with these two mighty peaks that they should shrink seven thousand feet in altitude and how could anyone, even a botanist like Douglas, make so monumental a blunder?” mused Coleman.

The mystery of the highest peaks endured. J. Monroe Thorington, a mountaineer who first came to the Rockies in 1924, wrote, “When I was little, when you were a school-child, geography books taught that the highest mountains of North America — Mount Brown and Mount Hooker — lifted their unsurpassed heights on either side of Athabasca Pass.”

This mythical pair had been talked about for so long and appeared on so many maps that the legend did not die easily. Even experienced Rockies mountaineers such as Walter Wilcox and Norman Collie still believed they may have existed and continued the search.

Finally fed up, Collie searched the libraries of England for Douglas’s original account. He noticed that Douglas claimed to have climbed Mount Brown in a single afternoon.

“If David Douglas climbed a 17,000 foot peak alone on a May afternoon,” he wrote, “when the snow must have been pretty deep on the ground, all one can say is that he must have been an uncommonly active person,” Collie wrote.

“For nearly seventy years they have been masquerading in every map as the highest peaks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains; they must now retire from that position, and Mts. Forbes, Columbia, Bryce, and Alberta will, in future, reign in their stead.”

That put the wooden stake through the mountain monster myth that until then would not die.

Today, Mount Logan, of the Elias Mountains, in southern Yukon, is recognized as being the highest point in Canada. It’s 5,954.8 metres tall.

Douglas is remembered as a fine botanist, so fine that the Douglas fir was named after him. He is not, however, remembered as a fine mountaineer.

For more on Stephen Harper and the F-35s click here.

For more on David Douglas click here.

Dec 05

2012 banner year for senate reform

It’s been a banner year for supporters of senate reform.

In fact, it almost appears Prime Minister Stephen Harper has handpicked some of his appointments to underline the need for reform in Canada’s chamber of sober second thought, something Harper has ardently supported for a long time. (The need for reform, not the chamber itself.)

The senate is usually below most people’s radar, and when it pops up, it’s usually not for a good reason.

Senator Marjory LaBreton is not afraid of senate reform.

Senator Marjory LaBreton is not afraid of senate reform.

Senator Mike Duffy said his compensation for living in Ottawa is only fair but critics say it's another reason to consider senate reform.

Senator Mike Duffy said his compensation for living in Ottawa is only fair but critics say it’s another reason to consider senate reform.

The latest controversy over Harper appointee Senator Mike Duffy claiming more than $33,000 in living allowances has raised the profile of the senate and the question of the capacity of our senators for sober second thought yet again this year.

Just last month, similar living expense claims by Harper appointee Senator Patrick Brazeau prompted a review request by Senate Government Leader Marjory LeBreton. LeBreton, another Harper appointee, says she’s asked the Senate’s board of internal economy for a definition of what the rules are and whether Brazeau’s expenditures are inappropriate. LeBreton is from Ottawa, and so she said she doesn’t know the precise rules for the housing allowance.

A story by CTV News recently reported Brazeau was claiming the housing allowance for

Senator Patrick Brazeau is not afraid to mix it up. He got into a twitter battle with a reporter after her story highlighting his high level of absence in the senate, another for reporting on woman's human rights complaints and he has now drawn fire for claiming as primary residence his faither's home 134 kilometres away from Ottawa. Senate reform was a plank in the platform of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the man who gave Brazeau his seat in the senate.

Senator Patrick Brazeau is not afraid to mix it up. He got into a twitter battle with a reporter after her story highlighting his high level of absence in the senate, another for reporting on woman’s human rights complaints and he has now drawn fire for claiming as primary residence his faither’s home 134 kilometres away from Ottawa. Senate reform was a plank in the platform of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the man who gave Brazeau his seat in the senate.

a home in Gatineau while listing as his primary residence his father’s home in Maniwaki, Quebec. Meanwhile, said the CTV story, neighbours of the Maniwaki residence said they didn’t think the senator lived there.

Duffy claims a cottage in Prince Edward Island as his principal residence, but he’s lived in Ottawa, where he worked as a journalist since the 1970s. Duffy bought the Ottawa-area house, located next to the Kanata Golf and Country Club in 2003. Harper appointed Duffy to the senate in 2008.

Duffy began billing the Senate for living expenses in 2010. Since September 2010, Duffy has charged the Senate $33,413 for living expenses in the National Capital Region.

When questioned by a reporter about his housing arrangements, Duffy – a former reporter himself – wrote in reply, “the other option is to stay in a hotel and I assume the housing allowance is in lieu. I’ve done nothing wrong, and am frankly tired of your B.S.”

Conservative Senator David Tkachuk, head of the Senate’s board of internal economy, says Duffy’s expenses are entirely within the rules. (Tkachuk was appointed to the Senate in June 1993 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney just before he retired as Prime Minister.)

“When you travel to Ottawa, you get expensed for living in Ottawa.”

Tkachuk says there is no test for determining primary residence. Elections Canada suggests Duffy votes in Kanata but there is no rule saying senators must vote in the province of primary residence. Tkachuk said “it’s where you pay your taxes and where you get your mail.”

When making political donations, Duffy has listed both residences as his home.

(Duffy and Brazeau aren’t alone in making living expense claims. In fact, only a few senators have not availed themselves of the allowances. LeBreton, former Ottawa police chief Vern White appointed by Harper, Jim Munson, a Prime Minister Jean Chretien appointee, and Colin Kenny, appointed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, all represent areas within 100 kilometres of Ottawa and are not eligible for the allowance. Liberal Marie-P. Charette-Poulin of Northern Ontario, a Chretien appointee, is eligible and has not claimed any housing allowance. Pierre De Bane of De la Valliere, Que, who was appointed by Trudeau just before he retired as Prime Minister, did not take an allowance. And Senator Ann Cools of Toronto has made no housing claims. She sits as an independent senator and was appointed by Trudeau.)

Brazeau’s time in the spotlight because of the housing expense question isn’t his only bit of fame and senate attention this year. As the youngest senator, he’s also the fittest and he tested his mettle in a charity boxing match against Liberal member of parliament Justin Trudeau. Trudeau won with a technical knockout.

Last June Brazeau was in the news for a battle in the Twitterverse, taking on a reporter from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network for a story about a human rights complaint involving Brazeau when he was at the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Then, once again on Twitter, he called Canadian Press reporter Jennifer Ditchburn a bitch, for her story highlighting the fact the youngest senator has the most missed days from senate work. He later apologized.

Senator Romeo Dallaire is a Canadian hero. He has continued his public service in the senate. He has said his high absentee level is a result of his research and public appearances, but still some say it is a reason for senate reform.

A number of senators have been noted for being absent from work (and close to the threshold of being fined for more than 21 days away), but some of them have provided explanations more specific than “personal reasons”. Senator Romeo Dallaire is tied with Brazeau for days away, but Dallaire lists public appearances and overseas research as his reasons. Dallaire is a former Canadian Forces general who has been researching child soldiers overseas, particularly in Africa. He has also publically challenged the current government’s foreign aid strategies based on his research. Dallaire was appointed to the senate by Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Conservative Senator Janis Johnson is also listed currently as a senator with a lot of

Senator Janis Johnson admits she has a high level of absenteeism in the senate lately, but says overall, she has a strong record. Her reason for the recent change is her duties as the sole care giver for a family member with a terminal illness.

Senator Janis Johnson admits she has a high level of absenteeism in the senate lately, but says overall, she has a strong record. Her reason for the recent change is her duties as the sole care giver for a family member with a terminal illness.

absent days. She has said her absence is due to personal health issues and being the sole caregiver for a terminally ill aunt.

Johnson was appointed by Mulroney.

And there have been other instances this year of senators drawing attention to themselves.

In October, Grant Mitchell, a Liberal senator from Alberta (yes, that’s right, a Liberal senator from Alberta) appointed by Martin, made news for suggesting clawing back their pensions could lead to parliamentarians considering bribes.

“All of our MPs are above reproach, but the pressures of not making enough money can become an issue and that is why [take-home salary] needs to be maintained at a certain level. We could talk about brown paper bags with cash in it, because there is pressure all the time. That is why pay needs to be absolutely adequate.”

At least once in the history of the senate, in 1997, the senate actually turned on one of its own. In the fall of that year, Senator Andrew Thompson drew fire from fellow senators for showing up for work only a few days at the start of each session. Thompson claimed poor health for his poor showing and would bring in notes from his doctor. He had been appointed a senator in 1967 after stepping down as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party because of health problems including a heart murmur, high blood pressure and exhaustion. Twenty years later, he was still ill. And still drawing a cheque. Finally, after a high profile protest started by the Reform Party, he was turfed from the Liberal caucus and resigned four months later from the senate. He went on to draw his pension.

It’s the fact senators are political appointments rather than elected representatives and the perks they get (like the salaries, absentee policy, travel and living expenses and pension) that draw most criticism.

Since he became head of the Conservative Party, Harper’s campaign platforms regularly include senate reform. But it’s reported he has cooled to the idea because of the threat of a challenge at the Supreme Court to any changes to the Senate.

A recent story in the Toronto Star said, “Under the guise of a projected Supreme Court reference on Senate reform, Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be about to bury his party’s grand plan until at least the next federal election and, possibly, for all time.”

Some political leaders, including Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, until he’s replaced and Thomas Mulcair, federal NDP leader, want the senate abolished altogether and Brad Wall, premier of Saskatchewan,  has suggested it’s one possibility he would consider.

 

For more on Senator Mike Duffy, click here.

For more on Senator Patrick Brazeau, click here.

For more on former senator Andrew Thompson, click here.

Dec 05

Senator Mike Duffy defends senate against critics of expenses

Mike Duffy appears in this youtube video, exasperated at the criticism of senator spending.