HotDocs, Aaron Swartz and Cory Doctorow

Cory and me

My friend Mariann has been an avid promoter and attendee of Toronto’s HotDocs festival, lo these many years. So it was no surprise when she called to recruit me to be part of her entourage while attending said festival. I had, in fact, discussed one of this year’s selections with colleagues at my new place of employment (well, perhaps not so new any longer: I’ve been there about six months now; but more on that another time), and was keen to attend a screening of The Internet’s Own Boy: Aaron Swartz. But not just any screening: one of the several screenings was to feature a panel discussion with Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig, Gabriella Coleman and the director, Brian Knappenberger.
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Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema: You Should Go!

I’m playing hooky today to attend the 12th edition of the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. I’d come across this festival years ago through an acquaintance’s Facebook posting, and I promised myself that I’d attend the following year. That didn’t happen. In fact, it took another couple of years before I finally got off my duff and trekked out to K-W.

When Joseph Chen, the festival’s organizer and curator, saw me with my camera, he pressed me into service, asking me to shoot everything and everyone. So I became one of the volunteers supporting the event, and I’ve been back every year since. Continue reading

Essential Movies

It’s happened a couple of times: while chatting with colleagues I reference a seminal movie, and I get a blank look, or “I’ve never seen that.” My jaw drops. “You’re kidding!”

We’re talking about such mammoths of cinematic history as Apocalypse Now, or The Ten Commandments.

So I started putting together a list of essential movies. And here’s what I’ve found: there are essential movies, and there are really, really good movies. And sometimes, the difference between the two depends on your own introduction to the movie. So, yeah: this is my own opinion of what constitutes an essential movie. And the line is blurry; and it may move. But this is it for now. Continue reading

Remembrance Day at the Canadian Air and Space Museum

A few weeks ago I heard that the Canadian Air and Space Museum was embattled, under attack from its landlord, Parc Downsview Park.

David Soknacki, Chair of the Downsview Park Board of Directors has pulled every dirty trick in the book to evict the museum from its current home, the former de Havilland plant, where Tiger Moths and other gems of aviation history were first designed and built. Among his underhanded shenanigans, Soknacki has refused to recognize the historical and heritage significance of the building. Continue reading

Podcasts We Love

I’ve been giving my mom my castoff MP3 players. Recently I bought my parents His & Her’s iPod Nano’s. New ones even. And that’s when Mom discovered the joy of podcasts. She’s got her own faves, but they’re mostly (all) French, which doesn’t really jive with my readership (yep, the same three dudes). So I thought I’d tell you about some of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis.

(BTW, if you’re not clear on the whole “podcast” thing, don’t sweat it. Check out these resources:

Tucows: How to Listen to Podcasts
Tucows: Tell Me About… Podcasting
butterscotch: Tune In: A Novice Guide to iTunes)

But first a quick rant about why podcasts are important, and should be part of your life. You’ve got limited time to expose yourself to content. You can choose pre-packaged, pre-digested, top-40’s content, or you can consume interesting, thought provoking material. You are what you ingest.

We’ve spent the greater part of our lives consuming content curated for us by others. The promise of the Internet was that we could assemble our own content feed. Is this good or bad? If you seek out content which agrees with your opinions, you’ll have no challenging opinions. No counterpoints. That’s probably not a good thing. So, I recommend finding content from a wide spectrum of sources. You may disagree with some of the views, but at least you’ll have exposed yourself to challenging opinions, and will be better able to articulate objections to those views. (OK, rant off.) Continue reading

Harper Giveth (to the commercial broadcasters), And Harper Taketh (from the CBC)

Our favourite moron is giving $150 million to private broadcasters, but is forcing the CBC to decimate its workforce by some 800 heads.  If we had any doubts of the Harper government’s agenda to put down the CBC, they’ve now been put to rest.

I don’t know about you, but I’m livid.  Clearly Harper missed the class where they explained the difference between public organizations and private enterprises.  If the private businesses can’t make it through these tough times, I say let them die, and allow new, more agile businesses take their place.  Not only are you delaying the inevitable, but you’re squandering public moneys.

As forests need the occasinal forest fire to renew and replenish themselves, to allow newer, more vital growth to take the place of the old growth, so too does business need to make way for newer businesses, with new business models and methods.  The world is changing, and we need innovation in every facet of our country, including the boardroom.

The other point which is blatantly obvious to the public, in spite of how gullible this government might believe us to be, is that with this “grant” to the private broadcasters, they’re now indebted to Harper and his minions.  Their journalistic integrity has been compromised.  I can no longer trust their judgement.

One of the victims of the CBC’s forced cull, has been Jesse Brown and his very excellent Search Engine podcast.  But in this case the story has a happy ending: TVO has picked up the show!

You can find the feed at this URL: http://feeds.tvo.org/tvo/searchengine.

(Nota bene: I had a terrific picture of Harper eating the CBC, which I’d spent a couple of hours on with Photoshop.  But it wasn’t backed up, so I lost it with Bender the first.)

WordCamp 2009 Toronto: I’ll Be There

I missed it last year, but I’ll be there with bells on this year!  WordCamp is a series of regional conferences dedicated to our favourite blogging platform, WordPress, as well as blogging and social networking in general.

Get the 411 at http://phug.ca/wordcamptoronto/.

WCT is coming this Friday May 8, through to Sunday May 10.  Registration is $35 for students, and $50 for us reg’lar folk.

Remix Manifesto a Must-See

RiP: A Remix ManifestoI’d heard about RiP: A Remix Manifesto on CBC’s very excellent Search Engine podcast a couple of weeks ago.  I’m not sure how it bubbled up (probably through Facebook), but I ended up going to see it at the Royal on opening night with Morty and Bebe.

WARNING: You will come out of this movie hating the Disney Corporation with the red-hot intensity of a thousand suns.  (You know… if you didn’t already.) Continue reading

Net Neutrality: Tell the CRTC How You Feel

crtc2009The CRTC is in the process of gathering comments on Net Neutrality from Canadians, in preparation for their hearings on the subject this summer.  Now is your oportunity to let your voice be heard on this important subject.

Our friends at SaveOurNet.ca have set up a handy form to send your thoughts on the matter to CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein.  They’ve even provided you with a very well crafted default letter (which you can easily edit, or override), in case you don’t have time to write one yourself.  The deadline is Feb. 16, 2009, so don’t delay!

Update: According to Mediacaster Magazine, the deadline has been extended by a week, to Feb 23.

Remembering Lupe

lupe_rodriguezLast night my friends Kali and David invited me to a memorial for Lupe Rodrigues, the CBC’s artist-at-large.  I’d heard Lupe reviewing art exhibits on CBC radio’s Here and Now program, hosted by Matt Galloway.

As it turned out, I had intersected with her a couple of other times, but hadn’t connected.  A few years ago, on my way to a play at the Canadian Stage, I had dinner at Hernando’s, and had admired the colourful paintings.  It turned out they were all by Lupe Rodrigues.

lupe2_05

Lupe, it turns out, was a regular at Kali’s very crowded parties. Not a surprise I hadn’t met her there: I’m usually happy to have met and chatted with 3 to 5 people in an evening. Kali’s friends are too interesting not to spend time with.

But Lupe was actually from David’s crowd. They’d both gone to Jarvis Collegiate; as had many of the musicians and artists who helped us celebrate her life and work.  Among them Victor Bateman, Jaron Freeman-Fox, Fergus Hambleton, Cindy Jones, Joanna Kidd, Kevin Laliberte, Amanda Martinez, Kathleen McDonnell, Don Rooke, Anjellica Scannura, Roger Scannura, Valeria Scannura, and John Sheard, the Music Director for the evening.

Our host was Matt Galloway, and speakers included Linda Rosendbaum, David Liss, Bianca Roberts, Lupe’s sons, Sebastian and Liam Cushing, and her husband, Danny Cushing.

Many of the people there had met in high school at Jarvis Collegiate, so it was a bit of a reunion for them.  I know that’s a powerful thing.  It both, reminds you of your youth, and the long road you’ve travelled.  There’s great joy in the thought that at least part of that road was travelled together.