Goodbye, Information Age

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“Say goodbye to the information age: it’s all about reputation now,” is the headline of an article by Italian philosopher and professor Gloria Origgi, published recently on Aeon Magazine’s website. She writes: …the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it renders us more dependent on other people’s judgments and evaluations of the information with which we are faced. I no longer need to open a computer, go online and type … click below for more ↓

Misquoting Shakespeare. Again.

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Let me begin with a digression on memes. Like a virus, a meme can spread uncontrollably in the right environment and infect millions with an idea or goal. This, of course, is good for such advocates of social ideals as Greenpeace or PETA, but like viruses, there can be bad memes that do more damage than good. More, it seems, than good or socially constructive memes. A meme is the self-propagating cultural equivalent of a virus*, but rather than spreading its DNA, a meme spreads … click below for more ↓

The slow death of media credibility

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A story in the recent issue of New Republic opens: “A decade of turmoil has left a weakened press vulnerable to political attacks, forced into ethical compromises, and increasingly outstripped by new forms of digital media.” This points to the continuing erosion of public confidence in traditional media. While this piece refers to national (American) and international media, it applies equally to local media – all types. Traditional media has been disappearing under the waves of digital media for the past two decades. In its … click below for more ↓

Baby, It’s Politically Correct Outside…

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I must have travelled to another universe because when I awoke, the world had gone mad. Radio stations were pulling a popular, rather over-played, 74-year-old, playful holiday song because some folks thought it was about rape. Sexual assault. Or at least non-consensual sex. The media was full of Chicken Littles screaming that the cultural sky was falling if radio stations continued to play it. The song was subject of weighty opinions on editorial pages. What is going on in this strange, politically correct and apparently unhinged … click below for more ↓

What’s wrong with local media?

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“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. 2. Imitation is the sincerest form, I suppose. Apparently the Connection only climbed on board six weeks later. But … click below for more ↓

Show me the documents!

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The trolls and troglodytes on social media are whinging again about allegedly missing documents that relate to the 2012 sale of 50% of Collus. They want you to think there was a conspiracy by the utility staff not to release crucial documents. There wasn’t. Period. No matter how many times this gets debunked, no matter how often it gets corrected, it rises again and again amongst the ignorati. This time it was the Block’s bullshit judicial inquiry (aka their campaign platform) that revived this particular … click below for more ↓

The greening of shaving

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But my brother Esau is an hairy man, but I am a smooth man. I recall those lines from a Beyond the Fringe sketch first released in 1964 (see below).* And so it was in my family: my brother was the hirsute Esau to my near-hairless Jacob. I didn’t need to shave until my late teens and even then it was iffy. That was in the late 1960s when sideburns and moustaches were the rage. By the time I could grow enough, everyone had gone … click below for more ↓

Idiot lights: aka fog lights

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Have you noticed how many people drive with their idiot lights on all the time? These are supposed to be “fog” lights, but idiots drive with them day and night, good and bad weather. Hence the name: idiot lights.* Not that they’re illegal (they should be…): the Ontario Highway Traffic Act allows a minimum of two and up to four headlights on the front of the vehicle, so they slip in under that provision. But fog lights are not meant to be used as headlights … click below for more ↓

The dogshit dilemma

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We have a problem with dogshit. Well, all municipalities do, of course, but ours is increasingly evident: it’s everywhere. And with the growing popularity of pets and our growing population, it’s becoming worse.* How do we deal with it? We pick it up, of course, as we dispose of it in our own garbage bins or in those provide by the municipality downtown or in our parks. That’s not merely what the bylaw says we have to do: it’s what responsible, mature pet owners do. … click below for more ↓

True Integrity? Not The Block…

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There’s an interesting article online called, 13 Traits of People With True Integrity that opens with the (unintentionally?) funny line: Integrity, for those who are not familiar, is quite important. After you guffaw at that bit, the author continues, “People who have a strong sense of integrity are sadly a rare breed. However, there are still some people left in this world with integrity, and usually, they share the following 13 traits.” Integrity in this article is linked to the meaning, “adherence to moral and ethical … click below for more ↓

Book collecting: snobbery or reading passion?

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The book has always been a sign of status and refinement; a declaration of self-worth – even for those who hate to read. That’s the lead into a recent piece on Aeon Magazine about book collecting and collectors. It’s also about reading and the snobbery of readers. Fascinating piece. For me, anyway. Pretty much everything about books and reading fascinates me, from the art to the industry to the neuroscience. I am and always have been a book buyer, proudly taking my place among those … click below for more ↓

The last walk

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“You have to go to the pound. They have a Sheltie there.” Susan called me from work, her voice urgent. One of her clients had told her a Sheltie – Shetland Sheepdog – had been picked up by Animal Control and was in the pound, on Stewart Road about to come up for adoption. She added, “I already have a name for her.” This was in the late spring of 2008. It had been a couple of years since we had a dog and she … click below for more ↓

The dystopian present

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If there is one good thing to come out of the election of Donald Trump, it has been the renewed interest in a certain genre of literature. Sales of dystopian novels have skyrocketed on Amazon, in particular what might be called “The Big Three” of dystopian tales: George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. From each of these novels, allegorical threads can be woven into some narrative aspect as a metaphor for the Trump administration: 1984’s newspeak, media manipulation … click below for more ↓

Empathy and The Dog Allusion

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Empathy, writes Martin Rowson, is one of the things that make us human, make us civilized, allows us to interact without tearing one another’s throats out. Without it, we’d have no civilization; we’d be like the beasts of the fields. And we’d have no dogs or gods, either. Empathy is what makes us own pets and be religious. That’s one of the thought-provoking ideas Rowson tosses around in his book, The Dog Allusion (Vintage Books, London, 2008). The title, as I’m sure you are aware, … click below for more ↓

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