IN MONTREAL

Greetings,

Well I`m here in Montréal, trying to punch in keys on a French keyboard that doesn`t work especially well.

It`s been a blast so far. More to come. There`s a lot of snow here in the city and it is very cold, but it`s been super fun.

Oh, and before I forget: R.I.P. Godfather of Soul and Gerry Ford.

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HOLIDAY ADVENTURES?

Greetings,

Pretty good Christmas this year – I got some sweet new clothes and other useful items. U2 book, Life Magazine’s photojournalism retrospective and some Tim Horton’s gift certificates (always useful).

Now the crazy part of these holidays begin – I’m heading to Montreal for four days to whoop it up and then going up north for New Year’s (staying far, far away from the major cities for this year).

Should be tonnes of fun!

SAY GOODBYE TO 2006

Greetings,

It’s been sparse postings this week. I’m still nursing a cold, but hopefully it will go away soon enough.

Because I’ve got a very busy schedule this holiday season (usual Christmas stuff, the much-anticipated Children of Men and then Montreal for a few days) and there likely won’t be much time to do a lengthy post on the Year That Was 2006, I’m posting it before Christmas.

What a year. I would say, at least from a global perspective, 2006 was better than 2005. It was a year of much-needed change, a year in which environmentalism finally hit the critical mass it will need for the coming years with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, easily one of the best films of the year. It was a year in which righteous justice was served to the Republican Party with their electoral lambasting in Congress in November. Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death. North Korea, the ever-precarious regime that resembles China in the 1950s, did some fearsome sabre-rattling again with the detonation of nukes underground. The horror of war raised its head yet again in Israel, Lebanon and Darfur (again!), with the situation worsening again in Iraq. Thankfully, the Iraq Study Group has released a plan that will, hopefully, ease the U.S. out of the country and get its soldiers home. Maybe 2007 will be the turn of the tide for America’s fortunes; we can only hope things will get better, because they sure as hell can’t get much worse. After all, when terrorist plots on jets flying from England to the U.S. changes things as much as it did this year, you have to wonder how much further things could sink for America. This was not America’s year. My pal Neate has a great post on the sports climate that was 2006, also known as America’s Losing Year.

Speaking of sports, I had the double pleasure of covering the Turin Winter Olympics and watching the most exciting World Cup in years. Turin was a fantastic, amazing experience. Covering it for AOL was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had journalistically and it was easily the best Winter Games I’ve ever seen. Our Canadian women did us proud at every turn. The World Cup was an amazing experience as well—it was sad to see England fall to Portugal, but the sweet taste of victory for Italy (minus the now-infamous head butt) made up for it (Toronto’s lucky to have so many Italians here).

Canada got a new government with Stephen Harper. I must admit, I’m no fan of him, but he did make some movement on some key policy issues. Next year, with Dion as the Liberal leader and an election most likely to happen in 2007, there’s bound to be some movement there, hopefully with a Liberal minority (do Canadians really want another Liberal majority anytime soon? Don’t think so).

Movie-wise, damn this was a good year. The Departed, Casino Royale, United 93, Borat, Miami Vice, Babel, Apocalypto, Brick, The Descent, A Scanner Darkly and The Black Dahlia really stood out for me. I didn’t get to see Half Nelson but I’m sure I will when it comes out on DVD (and Ryan Gosling gets that much-deserved Oscar nomination). The real stinker of the year for me was Bobby and uber-pretensious Lady in the Water. Please avoid them both. I’m really anticipating The Queen and the crazy-talented Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, as well as Children of Men. Did I mention how amazing this film looks? CBC Arts Online has a nice link to the best arts stories of 2006.

On a tech note, this was the year of YouTube, online video and social networking going thermonuclear. While my scorn for MySpace has really no bounds these days, lots of better-designed competitors are emerging. Facebook is likely to be scooped by Viacom in 2007 (incidentally, MTV’s parent company – seems like a pretty good fit, merging Facebook into the MTV brand, yes?). But Google’s buyout of YouTube finally signaled the tectonic shift online video is bringing to the digital world.

Microsoft Vista’s debut on November 30th for businesses (January 30th for regular folks) looks promising, but I’d suggest holding out for a few months. There’s a lot of unknowns when it comes to Vista so far; is it ready for public consumption yet even? We’ll see.

Also, memo to Sony: can you guys please please please roll out a product like the Ps3 with the style and grace of Apple? That’s really the only way you’re going to survive this century.

In 2007, tech will focusing more on the rise of truly mobile Internet and smartphone applications. It will be the year RFID will finally reach the mainstream consciousness (all the positives and startling negatives that the technology brings along) and Apple will likely release its iPod – like phone and the new iTV application. At that point, Apple will have truly come of age — it will be ready to make its big push into the PC market’s dominance.

On a personal note, this was yet another crazy year of change. I had two jobs this year. Right now, I’m quite happy and content with my job – the people are great, I write regularly on journalistically interesting topics and I’m feeling more confident than ever about my writing. I’m feeling really good about going into 2007.

We have a new kitten, our fourth cat, Riley. He’s a handful – the first male cat in the house. He’s crazy but very friendly.

For 2007, I really do want to make good on losing the extra pounds. I know, I made this pledge last year and in reality, I only lost about five pounds this year. I’ve got some miles to go before I sleep, as it were, when it comes to my weight. But I have to make the changes or else—after all, I’m not getting any younger.

So cheers to 2006, a much less taxing year than 2005 for the world. Let’s hope 2007 will see greater movement on the environmental file worldwide, continued rebuilding in the U.S., and a safe, terrorist-free world.

Cheers!

GIVE IT UP FOR JOHNNY C & ACADEMIC LEGACIES

Greetings,

My good friend John Carson got a huge boost today in his quest for a new job: a major article in the Metro, a free commuter daily here in Toronto. It’s all about his blog being a new and very innovative way to generate job leads. John’s a really smart, creative guy, so this should lead to something great for him (he deserves a great job). I haven’t seen it yet in print form, but it’s reportedly quite awesome and a potentially huge boost for him. Congrats all around to Johnny C!

ACADEMIC LEGACIES: The new issue of Tidings, King’s alumni publication, is now available in .pdf format. It’s always nice to see what is going on at King’s. There are times, honestly, when I wish I had taken the Foundation Year Program (FYP) at King’s. It seems so great and such a rich academic experience. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, FYP is a first-year undergraduate program that allows for a study of all the great books and ideas of Western civilization in one long, coherent narrative structure. It’s really awesome, I wish I could have taken it sometimes.

THE BEAUTY OF CRAIGSLIST AND WIKIS

– Jimmy Wales
Greetings,

There are days when I get supremely frustrated with the internet. I think the thing’s become loaded up with badly-designed HTML, morons who don’t know how to properly use their computers (“does the blue cord make the interweb go?”) and armchair pundits that write as if they were drunk at a party with guys like Emilio Estevez and Nicole Richie (85 pounds? Oh please, eat a burger or something! Anything!). Emilio can’t write well, and I’m willing to bet Nicole can’t write at all.

But then, every once in a packet switch or a thousand (*groan*) comes along some good, inspiring news about the web.

Take Jimmy Wales. He’s a pretty awesome guy and given us the most useful Web 2.0 application around. He’s also now giving away web hosting tools that employ wiki software, thus enabling some pretty cool collaborative projects on the horizon. You’re great, Jimmy.

Here’s an article on Craigslist – one of the few sites on the web that still manage, in spite of their enormous size and market value, to stay connected to their core audience.

Really, this is only another reminder that to make a legitimate and meaningful connection to web users these days, you have to respect the audience and cede them control entirely. Every day, Chris Anderson’s thesis just gets more and more valuable.

KLASSEN WINS!

Greetings,

Well, it’s good news all around today: aside from mailing out Christmas cards, getting some very interesting and potentially great news from an ex-colleague at another publication about something I can’t discuss publicly at the moment, Cindy Klassen rightly won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete of the year.

Congrats, Cindy!