Greenpeace, Ontario nurses show sad ignorance of nuclear facts

Nuclear energy should be in our future.

We need to pursue nuclear energy.

Today, an “urgent appeal” was issued by Greenpeace and the collective of Ontario nurses to the provincial government, to defer discussions meant to result in the construction of new nuclear power stations in Ontario.

What sad, ignorant fools they are.  Nuclear energy – though not a definitive long term solution – is an excellent intermediate measure that can be used very safely while we find better, more usable energy sources – and learn to stop being such energy hogs.

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Tobacco and coffee: not as bad as we thought?

Smoking is bad.  But is tobacco?

Smoking is bad.But is tobacco bad too?

Scientific American recently reported on research on the effects of tobacco and coffee on the brain.  It turns out that there’s something in tobacco and coffee that helps keep dopamine cells healthy, which means that we may be on the verge of figuring out why coffee-drinkers and smokers tend to have a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.  This reinforces what I’ve always thought: value judgements suck.

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Why Google Wave failed

Wave goodbye to Wave

Google has reported that they will no longer continue to develop its highly innovative Wave product, and that it will likely take the system down within a year.  Touted as a revolution in web-based software, Wave just never caught on.  There’s no shortage of opinions on the reasons for Wave’s demise, but none of them (that I’ve seen) looked at it from a designerly point of view.  Hence this post.

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Harper’s changes to the census are an attack on science

fascism poster

Harper's census changes stink of fascism.

Steven Harper’s ultracon, intelligence-free government is at it again.  Der Führer von Kanada and his cronies have decided to drop the mandatory long census form that was distributed to one in five households, in favour of a different – and relatively useless – optional long form to be distributed to more people.  Besides the increased environmental impact (“optional” only means that more of them will end up unused in the trash), it undermines the information-gathering that is absolutely fundamental to plan for Canada’s future. (Updated 21 July 2010.)

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GM needs remedial English lessons

The Chevy Logo, worn

Poor English makes Chevy adverts seem desparate.

I recently saw a billboard that advertised the Chevrolet Malibu.  The caption read: “By definition, an Accord is a Compromise.”  Very funny.  The ad also puzzled me, because I’d never thought the word “accord” had anything to do with “compromise.”

So I looked it up.  In four dictionaries, including the Concise Oxford Dictionary, I found no evidence of “accord” meaning in any sense a compromise.  Indeed, it typically referred to harmonious correspondence, or some kind of mutual agreement.

After a little Googling, I did find one site that actually uses the word “compromise” in its definition of “accord.”  But that particular sense is based on the interpretation of “accord” in American Law.

If GM were advertising to lawyers, then I’d have no problem with this ad.  But since it is clearly targeted at a much broader audience, it seems entirely inappropriate to focus on such a narrow – indeed, technical – sense of the word.  And the tone of the ad suggests a definitive statement about the word “accord” that discourages questioning it.

I know I wouldn’t want to live in a country where everyone used language as lawyers do….

I’m not sure what to make of this – except to think that using the narrow American legal sense of a word is a really smarmy thing to do, especially in Canada.  Indeed, I’d say this ad definitely qualifies for status in the weasel words lexicon.

Message to GM: go back to grade one and learn how to speak real English, not lawyer-ese.  And while you’re at it, stop thinking that Canadians would know or care about American legal definitions.

A Tale of Three Wikis

A tale of 3 wikis

How shall I resolve my wiki conundrum?

If designing is a process of addressing situational imbalances (and I believe it is), then the problem I am writing about here is certainly a design matter.

I love wikis. I think they’re one of the great inventions of the Web Age and far more flexible and usable than alternatives like content management systems. Right now I’m struggling to choose a wiki to use in my work. Because I know many others have struggled like me in this matter, I offer my experience for you here as a case study of one person’s thoughts.

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