I am watching Chernobyl (imdb | rotten tomatoes) again, probably because Russian troops decided to fire huge guns at a Ukranian nuclear facility several times larger than the afore-mentioned one whose reactor exploded in 1986. Great idea, Russia. Why not flirt with global catastrophe whilst carrying out an illegal invasion?

I must say, while re-watching it, a line in the script from Scherbina struck me, given the current situation:

“This is what has always set our people apart. A thousand years of sacrifice in our veins. And every generation must know its own suffering. I spit on the people who did this, and I curse the price I have to pay. But I’m making my peace with it, now you make yours…because it must be done.”


It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been twenty years. Really intense, indelible memories have a way of shortening time, I guess.

I still remember my colleague Dom standing up on his chair and telling us planes had hit the World Trade Center. I remember there was no TV in the office, and all the news sites we visited were overloaded so we ended up using Ananova, and going downstairs to the Radio Shack to watch the news through the window. I remember everyone going home early when the banks evacuated the big towers downtown. I remember stopping at the McDonald’s at Bloor & Avenue for some lunch, back when TIFF was centered in and around Yorkville, and hearing several American film industry people on their phones trying to figure out how to get home. I remember meeting my friend Jane on the patio at Hemingway’s (I was there yesterday for the first time in years, weirdly enough) that night as we tried to reconcile what had happened, gazing at it through the bottom of pint glasses. I even remember going to a Sigur Ros concert at Massey Hall nine days later (documented here, in what would end up being my first blog post, before I even knew the word blog I think) and everything still felt fuzzy and surreal.

It was an event born from decades of tragedy and violence, and begat decades more. It seemed trite and overblown to say it at the time, but with so many years of hindsight it really does seem one of the defining moments of history as I know it.


I keep trying to write something, but I keep stumbling and giving up. I think about sharing the same thing on Instagram as everyone else, but I feel like I’m just noise at this point. I mean, how do you make your brain reconcile something like this?

I obviously didn’t experience this myself. I didn’t lose kids this way. I don’t have kids at all, and I imagine every parent who never asked themselves before how it would have felt to lose their child — or even lose their child — this way, must be asking themselves this week. Even with all that buffer and privilege, it still overwhelms my brain and brings me to tears.

This is our history. This is our legacy to face. These 215 bodies, still trapped in the earth we stole from them. The thousands and thousands of dead and abused. Generations of trauma. This is Canada. South Africa took tips on how to implement Apartheid from us. This has to be faced and reckoned with. Others have done the work for us to tell us how. We need national acceptance and political will.

I’m saying nothing new or insightful here. I’m just processing into a keyboard.

Tomorrow I’ll attend this march, and try to process some more, and try to help where I can.

Pull it together, Ontario

True to form (which is to say, consistently formless and unpredictable) the Ontario government on Friday announced restaurants and bars could open their patios. With no warning.

First of all, in my opinion, we shouldn’t be opening up anything right now. There were 1,791 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario yesterday, and 18 people died. There’s a “growing consensus among medical experts that the province has entered a third wave of COVID-19 cases” in Ontario. (source) I get that businesses, especially small businesses, want to re-open. But re-opening early just prolongs the pain of this half-measure. Is it really worth it?

Second, if you’re going to make this decision, you don’t drop it on all these beleaguered business owners with less than 24 hours notice.

I don’t know why I expected anything else from this clown car of a government who is clearly prioritizing the economy over lives — as if the economy doesn’t count on alive-ish people.

Meanwhile, in Canada’s New Zealand:


Begone, 45

I should have more to say about the US election. I just don’t have it in me. And, truth be told, ever since I read this Atlantic article (published pre-election) about how Trump might try to gin up enough trouble to keep himself in power, I’m probably more nervous about his seemingly-clumsy protests and machinations than most.

I am just gonna leave this here though:

Portapique: an independent panel isn’t good enough [UPDATE: a public inquiry will proceed.]

After three months, there will finally be an investigation into the April mass shooting which started in Portapique, NS. Unfortunately, it likely won’t go far enough.

Despite the specific requests of victims and victims’ families, it will be an independent panel and not a public inquiry. The panel will have no ability to compel testimony, and will lack the transparency of an inquiry.

Paul Wells has been echoing the societal frustration well in Macleans all along, and summed it up after the panel announcement.

We might as well give it a name, this odd feeling of having been heard, understood—and ignored—by government.

It’s a familiar enough sensation, after all. It’s not that the lines of communication have broken down. It’s not that the message isn’t getting through. It’s not even that governments are inert or inactive. On the contrary, they’re whirlwinds of action. They’re just doing… something else… besides what circumstances warrant and populations demand.

This odd feeling is all I have after Mark Furey, Nova Scotia’s justice minister, and Bill Blair, the federal minister of public safety, announced the end of three months of confusion about how governments would respond to the April mass murder around Portapique, N.S. They’re convening a review. It’s like a public inquiry, only toothless and secretive.

Before the ministers’ announcement, I asked Dalhousie University law professor Archibald Kaiser for some comment on the delay in announcing any sort of inquiry. Kaiser sent me a long, thoughtful essay. “Instead of reassuring the public, the behaviour of governments has been opaque, tardy, uncertain, avoidant and condescending,” he wrote. “It is hard to make sense of why there have been so many bungles and missed opportunities in the aftermath of Canada’s worst mass killing.”

Paul Wells, Macleans, July 2020

The news of the government’s decision was met with protests this past weekend. Despite the CVs of the appointed panel, I fear their output will be met with disappointment. And the families and loved ones will be left to deal with the questions and doubts.

UPDATE: bowing to public pressure, the federal government has announced a public inquiry.

Cover photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

The News

Growing up we had at least three (maybe more?) newspaper subscriptions. We got the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Amherst Daily News, and the local weekly, the Citizen. This last is obviously gone, and I’m pretty sure the Amherst News is just a section of the Saltwire site now.

When I moved to Toronto I eventually subscribed to the Globe and Mail, then The Toronto Star, then both at once. (I loved newspapers and might have subscribed to more, but you couldn’t have paid me to read the National Post, and I don’t even consider The Sun to be a news source.) Reading my weekend paper(s) used to be a treasured Saturday morning ritual, but I let my both subscriptions lapse many years ago. I couldn’t really justify the paper usage or the cost versus free, high-quality, online alternatives.

Over time the thought of losing good journalism began weighing on me though, so I opened an online subscription. Granted it was the early days of the big media sources figuring out paywalls, but man was it clunky. I had a paid Globe subscription that never actually let me read pay-walled stories, so I gave up.

I’d always been more ideologically aligned to The Star than the others, and recently considered trying an online subscription again, but then they were purchased by a private equity firm. So we’ll see whether that ideological alignment lasts. In the meantime, I’ve hung fire on re-subscribing.

What I have begun paying for is newer, independent media, which doesn’t (as far as I know; I’m not invested enough to dig too hard) receive government funding for a dying business model (as opposed to receiving funding for journalism, which I would support). I have subscriptions to The Logic (for Canadian tech/innovation news) and The Athletic (for sports news), and have recently signed up for the West End Phoenix. I haven’t received my first issue yet, but I’m psyched. And while I don’t live in Nova Scotia anymore, much of my family does, so I might just sign up for the Halifax Examiner too.

It creates more things to manage, but I feel like my dollar goes further this way, and more directly to the people doing the work.


Cover photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

COVID-19: Part the Last (for now)

So yeah: not to jinx anything, but just as life is slowly returning to a semblance of normal, so shall my posts. Or at least my post titles.

Patios are opening in Toronto, though I haven’t been on one yet. Friends are coming over to hang out with Lindsay today. My family back in NS had a get-together last night to celebrate my niece’s graduation. People at work are thinking about going back to the office, though I’m not quite there yet. I grabbed takeout for lunch yesterday, a delicious fried chicken sandwich from The Cider House.

I don’t know if I’m feeling hopeful about this…but I guess I feel like we’re all a little better prepared? Lots of people still aren’t wearing masks when they ought to be, but I can’t control that. And social distancing seems to be taking hold: even the drunk guy ahead of me in line at the LCBO yesterday stayed 6 feet from everybody.

Fingers crossed, I guess.

COVID-19: Part the Fifteenth

Let’s see: what happened this week in my little box? I worked. We played more Pandemic: Legacy. I won a Lauren Pelc-McArthur painting. The Constantines released a new song; Bob Dylan released a whole album. It was my niece’s birthday back in NS.

We got outside and social-distance-drank in an alley with friends last night. I hadn’t been outside in a week. It was warm and exciting.

Also, this is very real: Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Post-Pandemic Wish Fulfillment Fantasies

From McSweeney’s