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Some of my most popular, and favourite, dispatches

Here are some of my favourites and most popular posts.

Question and answer on journalism and other forms of writing

Journalism | 2014-05-02

I was contacted recently by a student of journalism at Wilfrid Laurier University. She asked me the following questions…

The state of hyperlinking in news reports

Journalism | 2014-03-22

I’m happy to report that the state of hyperlinking in news in Canada appears to be improving. It’s a tentative claim…

Can we have infinite, exponential growth with finite resources? Andrew Leach says Yes.

Science | 2014-02-04

The thing about economics is that it’s a real scientific discipline. Like many sciences, there’s some more theoretical branches and also some more applied branches. And the application of economic modeling to real life society …

Petrostatehood is not a zero or one

Politics | 2013-09-05

Some time ago Nikiforuk published an article at Foreign Policy declaring Canada a petrostate. It caused a big splash and became a talking point in the culture wars that make up Canadian politics. Stephen Saideman called it hyperbole. And Andrew Leech called it short on evidence…

The best journalism is a kind of advocacy

Journalism | 2013-08-20

I’ve been interested in hearing more about a case of a Prince Edward Island writer and journalist who was ejected from the Press Gallery for being an advocate. Wow. I have lots of thoughts about this. Most saliently I believe that journalists are advocates…

Social norming, agenda setting and discourse about climate change

Epistemology | 2013-06-27

I am fascinated by what constitutes the limits of “respectable” public discourse. This phenomenon is related, in part, to the Overton window, which is the set of concepts that are considered politically acceptable by the dominant culture. But I am equally fascinated by the social limits …

The context is climate change

Journalism | 2013-06-23

Journalists claim that it’s their duty to give context to important events. The floods in Alberta are important. The context is climate change, but the press is strangely absent…

“Digital journalism” and the absence of hyperlinks

Journalism | 2013-05-21

In which I reflect on the behaviour of major news organizations in Canada who stubbornly refuse to link out to relevant websites, data and reports…

Andrew Coyne: instance of racism #3

Journalism | 2013-02-23

This is my third exploration of racism in the writings of Andrew Coyne, while writing for Postmedia News. Today’s argument will focus on the discourse of denial…

Andrew Coyne: instance of racism #2

Journalism | 2013-02-09

This is my second exploration of racism in the writings of Andrew Coyne with Postmedia News. This argument will refer to three articles written by Coyne in January…

Andrew Coyne: instance of racism #1

Journalism | 2013-01-24

This is my first argument toward the conclusion that journalist Andrew Coyne made claims that were racist. The remarks by Coyne that I will focus on for today’s argument were…

Andrew Coyne dismisses multiple allegations of racist writing

Journalism | 2013-01-20

A little while ago I posted a review of several journalists’ positions on the Idle No Moremovement. With the exception of Ibbitson, all of the journalists I reviewed positioned themselves as experts and went on to express views in ways that displayed a lack of good judgement…

The social relevance of journalism

Journalism | 2013-01-18

There is an old idea that journalism has an important role in democracy. I kind of believe this. But the problem is that the view of journalism subscribed to by the old guard, is shrinking the role of journalism in our democracies…

Dinosaur journalists and Idle No More

Journalism | 2013-01-08

I challenge white journalists to tell us how much they think they know about about the history and relationship between settlers and Indigenous people. Judging by their recent strong opinions about First Nations governance, Indigenous land rights, the Idle No More movement, Attawapiskat, and Chief Spence, they are all experts…

Understanding bias

Journalism | 2012-10-26

I see bias everywhere. Yes we all struggle with our biases. I wish the reporters, editors and owners at the Globe and Mail would own up to theirs. There’s bias in the conversation our biased reporter has with his biased editor, bias in the call list he develops for his story, bias in his choice […]

The veil is “hideous”, “odious”

Journalism | 2012-05-29

This is my sixth post in my series on Dan Gardner’s article about the Muslim veil. I want to reflect on the language of hate, and on having successful public disagreement via Twitter…

The use and abuse of science in editorial

Epistemology | 2012-04-27

I approve of science. I approve of evidence and research. By and large and in the long run, science reveals the facts or transparently fails to do so. Along the way we make mistakes, get things wrong, get our hands dirty and learn that stuff is often really complicated. And I also approve of journalists…

Public relations defense of Conservative policy

Journalism | 2012-03-02

Here’s another reflection in my ongoing series on Dan Gardner’s article from the Ottawa Citizen about women who choose to wear the Niqab…

Democracy is not zero or one

Politics | 2011-11-07

Democracy is not a single style of governance. Democracy is not simply about having elections. Democracies come in many colours and fashions. Democracy is a matter of degree and dimension…

Santa Claus and the orbital model of the atom

Epistemology | 2011-08-28

I was recently asked on Twitter what the difference is between Santa Claus and the orbital model of the atom. It was asked in a way, that suggested there was no difference, so I thought it must be humour. But now I think it wasn’t.

The significance of the news brand

Journalism | 2011-07-21

Folks have always understood that the various news outlets have brands. But I think this understanding has been superficial.

Can humans echolocate?

Science | 2010-08-30

A few years ago I was at a dinner party at a cabin on Vancouver Island. The host, and my good friend, Dalton, told a story. He told us a story about riding his bike home on a tar black night on Vancouver Island. As the story goes, it was too dark to see the […]

Challenges for the modern journalist

Journalism | 2010-01-29

Okay. I’ve been very critical of journalists and newspapers that are getting it wrong on climate change: here and here and here. But you should know that I have moments of being more, well, sympathetic with the modern journalist. I also believe that healthy journalistic institutions are essential for a healthy democracy. But our democracy […]

Hey, Calgary Herald, you suck on climate change destabilization

Journalism | 2009-12-01

Here’s a fun thing that you can try at home. It’s a simple form of media analysis. The result of this particular analysis leads me to think bad thoughts about Canwest. But that’s just me. Here’s what I did. First I went to the Calgary Herald website. But you can pick any online media outlet […]

Design a life support system

Design | 2009-10-15

Today is a good day to think about our life support system. Our life support is our earth. It’s a delicate mixture of gravity, various nuclear forces that hold our subatomic and atomic particles together, solar energy, some electrical forces that hold our molecules together, a chemical soup composed of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen1 […]