The Decline of Information Quality

I’ve been troubled the last year or so by the increasing amount of trivial crap that is being presented on media sites as news, rather than what it really is: shallow gossip, pseudoscience, trivia, anecdote, voyeurism and personal experience. As titillating as some glitterati’s wardrobe malfunction might be, it is not front page news. In fact, it isn’t worthy of the description news even when relegated … (more–>)

What happened to the video business?

In the early to mid 1990s, Collingwood had three independent video outlets. Then it had two and one franchise (Rogers). Several variety stores also had a small video rental business. Then the independents closed and another franchise (Blockbuster) moved in. Now the two corporations are gone and there is no place in town to rent videos. I am deeply disappointed. What happened to the video rental … (more–>)

Goodbye, Carlos Fuentes: 1928-2012

I was in a bookstore in Israel in 1980 or thereabouts, looking for a book in English to read during my visit. I found Terra Nostra, a 900-page novel by Carlos Fuentes, in a Penguin paperback edition. I had read another Fuentes’ book, A Change of Skin, a few years earlier, so I picked it up. I’ve carried Terra Nostra with me ever since that day … (more–>)

A Delightful Farce Called Anonymous

Watched a delightful, satirical farce last night, called Anonymous. It’s a spoof about the conspiracy theory that the Earl of Oxford (Edward de Vere) wrote the works of William Shakespeare. This conspiracy notion has a pop following, but lacks significant scholarly and any historical support. Like other conspiracy theories, it has gained ground on the Internet from the simple fact that most people are naturally superstitious … (more–>)

Fifty thousand words…

This morning I crossed the 50,000 word mark in my book on Machiavelli’s The Prince for municipal politicians. It’s longer than I had originally intended, but I think it’s a reasonable length for the content. I’m pleased with the current draft and should have my reading and self-editing done by next Monday. Then it’s on to my next book, about e-government. I have an overhead of … (more–>)

Machiavelli in popular art: Don MacDonald’s graphic novel

A graphic novel about Niccolo Machiavelli… who woulda thought? It’s not like the Florentine was exactly the X Men or Mr. Natural as a comic book hero. Artist Don MacDonald has put together a graphic biography of Machiavelli on his blog, stretching more than 150 pages (so far) ranging through the entire span of Niccolo’s life. He even includes footnotes for some of the historical material … (more–>)

It’s not an Apache blessing, it’s just a Hollywood script

“May the sun bring you new energy by day,” begins this saccharine saying that has enjoyed a continued life outside Facebook through the fridge magnet and huggable-puppies-and-kittens-on-posters and wedding planner industries. It gets passed off as an “Apache blessing” or “Apache wedding blessing” on Facebook, usually with some hunk-ish Indian brave pictures beside the words or some faux-Indian animal fetish images. The rest of the alleged … (more–>)

Please preserve the CBC: no more cuts!

Canadians who care about media content, journalistic integrity and fair reporting are anxiously watching for tomorrow’s federal budget announcements. Big cuts to the CBC are expected, according to this Huffington Post story: Cuts to CBC funding expected in the upcoming federal budget could have dramatic implications, touching everything from popular television programming to foreign news bureaus and eliminating hundreds of jobs, observers predict. The CBC’s own … (more–>)

Scribble, scribble, eh what?

Just passed the 13,000 word mark on my current book about Machiavelli and municipal politics, this weekend. So far, I have gone through explanations of Chapters 1-10 of The Prince. The Prince has 26 chapters, so I’m about 40% of the way through my analysis, more or less on track for a 35,000-40,000 word book. It’s a little tough in places trying to fit Machiavelli’s words … (more–>)

Not a John Lennon quote… just another bad meme

Another unsourced, mis-attributed quote is going the rounds, found as are so many on Facebook, this one turning itself into another of those annoying, unsourced Internet memes that people love to share: “When I was five years old, my Mom told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I … (more–>)

On translating Chaucer and the joys of Middle English

In my last two visits to the nearby Chapters, I picked up from the bargain books section two recent, hardcover, versions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. One is a new verse translation by Burton Raffel published in 2008, the other a prose translation by Peter Ackroyd, from 2009. These join the dozen or so other versions of Chaucer’s works I already have on my bookshelves: the Riverside … (more–>)

It wasn’t Einstein who said it…

Yet another incorrectly attributed quotation is being passed around the Internet, this time on Facebook. This one is, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” A saccharine, touchy-feely, warm-puppy quote that appeals to some who take comfort in them, but Einstein never said that. … (more–>)

The colour of the herd

I felt not so much like I was in a city full of undertakers, but rather in a city that was in casual but widespread mourning. A sombre, solemn city where everyone dressed in black in recognition of some great death, but one of which visitors were unaware. Standing at an intersection, the light would change and a wall of dark would approach, like a funeral … (more–>)

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