Monthly Archives: September 2008


I just finished watching Michael Moore’s free-to-web (but only in the U.S. and Canada, wink wink) documentary “Slacker Uprising,” about his tour of swing states just before the 2004 presidential election.

Well, you get what you pay for, I guess.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Michael Moore’s work. I liked Sicko, The Awful Truth and Bowling for Columbine, and I was ok with Fahrenheit 9/11.

But Slacker Uprising doesn’t explain any issue. It doesn’t argue any point. It doesn’t actually try to change anything, despite Moore’s pleas that the film be screened before the election. It’s just a bunch of videos of stump speeches pieced together with a bunch of videos of artists performing protest songs. This review from the Ann Arbor News explains it pretty well.

There are some interesting parts, about how Republicans attempted to stop the speeches, offered money to get student unions to cancel them, and even showed up, chanted and prayed out loud while Moore was speaking, but there’s already a documentary about that.

For those used to Moore’s passionate, personal arguments about political issues, you’ll be disappointed. He doesn’t even narrate the movie. Instead, you just hear him speaking to the converted, to the point where the hyperpartisanship of those audiences might turn you off from voting for Democrats.

Michael Moore chanting “one more day” isn’t entertaining, moving, inspiring or educational. And it’s not worth watching.


Last week, the Bloc Québécois started running a minute-or-so-long podcast in which Frédéric Savard gives a fast-talking roundup of political news and ends each item with a pun or other bad joke about other parties in the election.

As a master of punnery and bad jokes myself, I have to say that some of them are funny (black holes and Denis Coderre) and some are beyond groaner territory (Stéphane Dion being “tragically un-hip”).

Still, it’s pretty entertaining as far as party activities online go. The Liberals and Greens don’t have podcasts that I can find. The Tories’ podcast is nothing but stump speeches by Stephen Harper, and the NDP podcast hasn’t been updated since 2005.

It’s just federal politics in Quebec – who cares about language?

On the heels of a report from La Presse that the Conservative candidate in Papineau (who, let’s face it, is going to lose anyway) doesn’t speak French very well, Angry French Guy calls around to some local campaign offices to see how they respond in Canada’s official languages.

Admittedly, it’s not the candidates but just random people who answer the phones, but you’d think the campaigns would make sure that front-line workers were bilingual.

Ottawa Citizen workers accept contract deal

Members of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild, which represents workers in the newsroom of the Ottawa Citizen, have accepted a contract offer that includes wage increases of 2.5% the first year, 2% the next three years and 2.5% the final year.

This sets the stage for a coming strike vote at the Gazette this Sunday.

And the union executive isn’t happy about the rejecting of their recommendation.

Gazette books section: bigger, less often, plus blog

As part of incremental changes to reduce the amount of newsprint it uses and otherwise cut costs, The Gazette has made its weekly tabloid Books section into a monthly one, while increasing its size to about double what it was.

For you math experts out there, doubling the size of a section but having it run only a quarter as often will result in 50% less content overall on average. (It’s actually a bit better than that, because on Saturdays when the section doesn’t appear there will be a page from it in the Saturday Extra section).

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to people who have been following the newspaper industry worldwide, as fewer and fewer papers still have such sections at all. If anything, the surprise is that the section wasn’t eliminated entirely.

The Science section, which appeared at the back of Books every week, gets cut loose from that odd-couple relationship and will rejoin the Insight section (which is now part of the A section) on Sundays.

As part of the metamorphosis, the paper gets a new online Books page, which includes a blog called Narratives, and both will get updates between appearances of the big monthly section.

I’ve never been a big book-review-section person myself, so I’m not particularly affected by this decision.

Perhaps that’s the problem.

UPDATE: Andrew Phillips has a post about this on his blog. He mentions that the local literary community was consulted and that, generally, it’s an agreeable compromise.

CJVD to launch Sept. 29

CJVD, the community radio station serving Vaudreuil-Dorion and surrounding communities, is planning to launch the morning of Monday, Sept. 29.

It’ll be broadcasting on 100.1FM with a blistering 500 Watts (by comparison, CKOI operates with an effective radiated power of 300,000 Watts), and plans to offer local traffic updates and community information.

It will also mean difficulties for people in the West Island and off-island in receiving WBTZ 99.9 The Buzz out of Plattsburgh, N.Y., a station long considered by many as the only Montreal radio station with music worth listening to.

Akoha: Is that all?

Last week, we got our first true glimpse into the über-secret world of Akoha (formerly Project Ojibwe, aka Austin Hill’s new project), after they presented the project at TechCrunch50.

I find myself feeling for Akoha something similar to what I felt about Standout Jobs when it launched in public beta: disappointed.

Not heartbroken. Not “wtf this is crap,” but more a feeling of “a team of computer programmers spent months in super-secret hiding for this?”

Added to that was the fact that both did a lot of talking about supporting the local community, but when it came to actually launching, they both took off for the other side of the border.

Based on the presentation, the comic on the website and Roberto Rocha’s article, Akoha is some sort of game where you buy cards and have to do what the cards say. And then you go online and tell everyone you did what the cards say. And then you feel good.

Mark MacLeod points out some of the issues Akoha will have to deal with, like marketing, user retention and monetization. I’ll also add authentication: How do we know that someone’s claim to have done something is true?

But the biggest problem, I think, will be keeping a critical mass that goes beyond the fad. People will be interested, at first, but without that Facebook-like regular activity and new information, I can see people using Akoha less and less until the playing cards start collecting dust at the back of the closet.

But then, maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. TechCrunch liked it, as did Scoble. So maybe it is the next big thing.

Fuck you too, Gilles Proulx

In case you missed it, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has given a slap on the wrist to radio host Gilles Proulx and 98.5FM, after Proulx said “fuck you” (not “phoque you“) repeatedly in reference to Montreal firefighters.

The full decision is available here. The radio station, as punishment, must read a statement over the air a couple of times. Oooh, scary.

The fact that Proulx expressed himself using an anglophone swear word is perhaps more interesting than anything else in this story.

This is an election, not a policy convention

Let me get this straight: Maclean’s is writing articles about … issues? Policy issues? Analysis?

I’m taken aback here. Where are the opinion poll percentages? The endless back and forth over slips of the tongue? The shallow promises that “we have to do more”? The counting of Facebook friends as a quantitative measure of party popularity?

This isn’t the journalism I spent five minutes teaching myself in order to weasel my way into a career doing.

Shame on you Maclean’s.

When is a channel not a channel?

Hey, remember back when I said you should expect CTV’s competitors to get mad when it decided to brand a regional split of TSN into a separate channel called TSN2?

Yeah, they got mad.

TSN says it’s respecting the letter of the law, and that only 10% of programming will differ between the channels. But Score Media wants the CRTC to clarify that this should apply to advertising as well.

Either way, TSN is selling this as an entirely separate cable channel, not as a split feed. And that, at least, seems to be going against the spirit of its license.