Milton Was Wrong

In 1644, the English poet and pamphleteer John Milton wrote an impassioned defence of free speech (or, more factually, against censorship of print and in favour of restriction-free publication) called the Areopagitica. It was subtitled A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England. In it, Milton argued that, given the choice between truth and lies, people were … (more–>)

Smith, Rock, and the Trivialization of Western Culture

If Neil Postman were alive today, sitting in a bar or café with Chris Hedges, I wonder which one would say “I told you so!” first after seeing social media this past week? The story that clogged the social media pipes this week was the slap one actor gave another on stage during the performance of the annual onanism festival called the Oscars. And as soon … (more–>)

Books, writers, words, and competencies

I have always believed that any good, competent and credible writer can be judged (if judge people we must, and yet we do) by the books on his or her desk. Yes, books: printed hardcopy, paper and ink. I’ll go into why books are vastly superior to online sources a bit later (although I suspect my readers already know why…). Although I am no longer in … (more–>)

What’s wrong with local media?

“It’s about trust. Our relationship with our readers is built on transparency, honesty and integrity.” So opens the front-page piece in this weekend’s Connection, titled in all-caps, “Local News Needs Support ‘Now More Than Ever’”. It echoes the theme of”now more than ever” written for National Newspaper Week, Oct. 1-7. And some of it is eerily similar to what Bob Cox wrote about journalism on Oct. … (more–>)

Politically correct pronoun madness

Muddle-headed editorial palaver

There’s a muddle-headed editorial in this weekend’s Collingwood Connection titled “Citizens, not rich developers should drive political ship” (sic*) that shows (again) how little the chain’s editorial writers understand municipal politics and the laws that govern it. It opens: Money talks and, in the case of municipal elections, one could argue that all of those cheques, banknotes and e-transfers going toward funding the war chests of various candidates … (more–>)

Sloppy Reporting and Secret Agendas

One really doesn’t actually expect sterling journalism, good, investigative reporting or excellent editing from a community newspaper, but we do expect factual accuracy. And we expect reporters and editors to do at least the basics of their jobs. Some parallel stories in the local papers show just how inaccurate – and sloppy – local reporting and editing can be. And how this is letting council get … (more–>)

Social Media, Public Opinion, and Jian Ghomeshi

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1XGPvbWn0A] I doubt anyone in North America is unaware of the furor surrounding CBC’s recent firing of radio show Q’s host, Jian Ghomeshi last week.* In case you were on the moon when it happened, you can read some of the many stories on the Star and other news sites (just Google it…). It’s a complex story; about the seesaw between workers’ and employers’ rights; about sex and … (more–>)

No Data Are Better Than Bad Data

The full name of an article I read today is, “The Fallacy of Online Surveys: No Data Are Better Than Bad Data.” It’s from 2010 and very good. You can find it on the Responsive Management website. It makes some key points about the invalidity of online surveys: For a study to be unbiased, every member of the population under study must have an equal chance of … (more–>)

Our gawker culture

Suddenly the Net lit up with headlines news: celebrity nude photos leaked! Videos too! Facebook timelines were replete with media stories. Shock. Horror. Voyeurism. Click, click, click the viewers racked up the view count as they raced to the sites just in case they actually showed something. A little flesh to feed our insatiable desire to gawk. Meanwhile psychopaths in ISIS continue to harvest human lives … (more–>)

Classical music matters even more today

The official launch of the new Classical FM 102.9 radio station in Collingwood this past weekend reminded me of my own past history with classical music, but also why it matters so much to have classical music in our lives. And why we need to keep that cultural lifeline to our musical past alive and active. Classical music binds us to our past, to our civilization and our culture. … (more–>)

Sex, violence and TV shows

We just finished watching the third season of Game of Thrones on DVD this past weekend. Before that, we watched The White Queen, another DVD series (one season only, although it deserved more). As we watched both, I found myself wondering why directors and producers felt the need to insert gratuitous – but apparently obligatory – explicit scenes of sex and violence that really had little … (more–>)

Social media and social dialogue

A recent poll done by Pew Research reiterated what I’ve been saying for the past two years: social media (SM) doesn’t necessary facilitate social debate and in fact may be stifling it. Discussion on many SM platforms tends to reinforce existing beliefs because in general only those who feel their beliefs are shared by their circle of “friends” or followers will express them. It’s called the “spiral … (more–>)

Neolithic site dig uncovers sophisticated structures

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 … (more–>)

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