Neolithic site dig uncovers sophisticated structures

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A Neolithic site in the Orkney Islands shows our ancestors had sophisticated building skills more than 5,000 years ago. According to a story in The Scotsman, A groundbreaking excavation of a 5,000-year-old temple complex in Orkney has uncovered evidence to suggest that prehistoric people were a great deal more sophisticated than previously thought. The archaeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar, which is still in its early stages, has already thrown up discoveries that archaeologists say will force us to … click below for more!

Pseudo-patriotic madness

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This is news, right from the CBC, not April Fool or The Onion: The Massachusetts House of Representatives has finally granted initial approval to a Bill naming the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich. The bill was filed in 2006 by then Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, in response to a motion by State Senator Jarrett Barrios limiting school Fluff servings to once a week. She thought that motion was, ‘nuts’. The Fluffernutter is a peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff combination and has … click below for more!

The Mac celebrates 30 years

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A recent article on Gizmodo shows off some previously unseen (or perhaps just forgotten) footage of a young Steve Jobs unveiling the Macintosh computer, back on January 30, 1984. Thirty years ago, this week. Seems like forever ago. But I remember it, and reasonably well. I remember where I was living then, what I was working on, and who I was with (I’m still with her…) The video clip also includes the famous Orwellian “1984” TV ad Apple used to … click below for more!

Crossing the line

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There’s a story on ipolitics that in part echoes my own thoughts about media and responsibility. Yet the author draws different conclusions than I believe I would have, were I still in the media. It’s called “Paul Calandra and the tale of the naked senator” and it’s written by Paul Adams. Worth reading regardless of whether you agree or not. Adams writes about the quandary many reporters and editors find themselves in: trying to define the boundary between public interest … click below for more!

Psychics 2013: the silly, the scams, the failed predictions

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Action News, an ABC affiliate, ran a late-year story with the headline “Psychics interpret pets’ thoughts.” No, it’s not April Fools’ Day: this was December 26. Yet the reporter treated it seriously; just like it was a real story; actual news, rather than a steaming heap of superstitious dung. That reporters for any media outlet treat would such codswallop as “news” calls into question their ability, their competence and their education. Lorrie The Pet Psychic has been tuning into the … click below for more!

Six Rules for Politicians Using Social Media

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This is an updated version of the talk I presented at the the eighth annual Municipal Communication Conference in Toronto, November 2013.   I use social media regularly and frequently. As a politician, that makes me either very brave or very stupid. But I’ve been doing this for the last 30 years, long before I ever got elected. Social media isn’t new to me.* It may be slicker than it was in 1983, but it’s essentially the same text-based, monologue, … click below for more!

All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men

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Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again. That children’s nursery rhyme says a lot about the situation Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finds himself in, following the release of police reports, yesterday. The mayor is in, to put it politely, a pickle. Rather than reiterate all the brouhaha and the details of what the police reported, I direct you to read the … click below for more!

Racism and the US Civil Rights movement retold

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As I read through Rick Perlstein’s book, Nixonland, about American politics and life in the 1950s and 60s, the Civil Rights movement and the reaction to it by white Americans, the narrative astounds me. Such anger, such violence. Such sadness. It seems like such an alien place, dystopian, almost fictional, like an Orwellian novel. I was, it seems from my reading, not really aware, not fully cognizant of just how bad it was. But then, it looks eerily familiar – … click below for more!

The Decline in Media Credibility and Profitability

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Last August the Pew research Center released the results of its latest study on how much the American public trusts the media. This has been part of an ongoing study since at least 2002, and ever since the first report, the amount of trust in media has fallen. This has been a hot topic of discussion online ever since, and the source of much hand-wringing at each new release. Perhaps the mounting number of scandals in journalism has soured an … click below for more!

But is it news?

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford seems to get more than his fair share of headlines these days, most of them negative. The stories that follow are full of allegation, innuendo and “unnamed sources.” Gripping tabloid stuff. Real time soap opera. But is it news? Most of these stories seem based on a simplistic media prejudgment of the man. Ford: bad. Stories that belittle, humiliate, denigrate and ultimately crucify Ford: good. And in this heated, increasingly toxic environment, allegations, gossip and rumour … click below for more!

Clawing our way back up the ladder?

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In 2006, Moneysense listed Collingwood as the 11th best place to live in Canada. The other ten above us on that list were all major cities. We were the number one town. Mayor Geddes beamed. Today we’re a lot further down the list. Numero 54 to be exact, out of 200. I wrote about that list back in 2011. We plummeted from the giddy heights of 11th place to 61st by 2008. The fall didn’t stop until we hit 94th … click below for more!

Understanding the Municipal Act

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Among the many pieces of legislation, bylaws and policies that guide and inform municipal councils in Ontario, the Municipal Act is the most important.* This 238-page, 140,000-word, 474-section document covers most of the things that govern municipal councils: powers, duties, highways, public utilities, waste management, fences and signs, animals, economic development, environment, licensing, municipal reorganization, municipal service boards, BIAs, boards and committees, integrity commissioners, transparency, open and in-camera meetings, financial administration, taxation, fees, bylaw enforcement, bonusing. …and many other topics. … click below for more!

Half Time News

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This month, Collingwood residents got a newsletter in their Collus- PowerStream utility bill: The Half Time News. Recognizing this is the season of the Super Bowl, our  brochure provides residents a fun yet non-political update on the events and activities around council’s first two years in office: at the end of 2012 we are at the half-way point in our term. And what a term it’s been so far! While media attention is often focused on a handful of issues, … click below for more!

Ten Lessons Learned From the Petraeus Affair

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After watching the recent, exaggerated – and sordid – upheaval over the story about an extramarital affair that the (now former) head of the CIA had with his biographer, I have come to several conclusions about America, sex, American media and publicity: 1. Americans, who bought millions of copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey“, a poorly-written, highly derivative, pornographic book, and then turned it into a national industry that includes home parties where BDSM equipment is sold to housewives, and dozens of spin-off blogs based on … click below for more!

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