Tagged: Mike Targett

Tpyo feedback

On Wednesday I noted a typographical error that caused a local journal some embarrassment, only to acknowledge I was no one to talk, given the rising frequency of self- and auto-correct-induced typos that fill my keyboarding day. (See: Report a Tpyo button, above.)

Naturally, other journalists quickly jumped into the fray. Dan Bedell, the most meticulous copy editor I ever encountered, toiled for many years at the Canadian Press Bureau in Halifax.



I hope the Chronicle Herald crew takes the award in stride and draws comfort from knowing it serves to remind all wordsmiths there should never be room for complacency. Anyone who’s been responsible for final content, especially in print media, feels their pain. You do your level best to review every page including headlines, editorial content and even the advertising, check it again, and have a second or even a third set of eyes look it over to be absolutely certain it is free of errors. Even when spell-check software attempts to sound the alert, you over-confidently click “ignore.”  Then the final product lands on your desk in print or goes live online and that glaring mistake slaps you in the face. And of course the entire world feels the need to point out the one error you inexplicably managed to miss.

Also, thanks for confirming that humour, not editorial sloppiness, is behind the misspelling in your “Report a Tpyo” link. However I hold fast to the belief that it originally was an error you have cleverly sidestepped by claiming it was always intentional.

The real story is better. Before Contrarian launched in the spring of 2009, computer smart guy Mike Target was putting the finishing touches on its template. At Doug MacKay’s suggestion, I asked him to add a “Report-a-Typo” link. When he sent back the draft template, I spotted what looked to be an error, and emailed him.

“Talk about irony,” I chortled, “You misspelled ‘typo!'”

“You idiot, that’s a joke,” he shot back.

I slapped my forehead, and the Report-a-Tpyo link survives to this day. Every once in a while, a gentle reader politely points out my “mistake.”

Ron Crocker writes:

My all-time fave typo appeared in the St. John’s (NL) Evening Telegram many years ago, when I was a cub reporter. I did not write the story myself, but almost wish I had. It probably appeared in October or November, but those of us who frequently drive the Trans-Canada Highway in Newfoundland know it could be almost any month except July. The lead went like this:

“A freak storm overnight left two inches of snot on the Trans Canada near St. John’s…”

There was damage to correct spelling, of course, but not much damage to accuracy.

These discussions always put me in mind of a story about Nathan Marsh Pusey, who served as president of Harvard University from 1953 to 1971. A contractor wanted to build a multi-story office tower over the top of Harvard Square—on stilts as it were. The aloof Mr. Pusey called a rare news conference to condemn the scheme. The student-run Harvard Crimson’s apocryphal headline:

Pusey Fights Erection in Square

Not exactly a typo, and to the best of my knowledge, it never actually found its way into print. But too good a story to let facts stand in the way.


Dexter at Holy Angels

Premier Darrell Dexter shot a few baskets Monday afternoon during a courtesy call at the former Holy Angels High School, which New Dawn Enterprises is turning into a center for cultural organizations and entrepreneurship. Pictured in the doorway is Blair Oake, recently retired manager of City Printers, who will manage the facility. Seated in the stands, wearing a blue shirt,  is New Dawn president (and defeated mayoral candidate) Rankin MacSween.

Dexter squeezed in a series of meet-and-greets en route to the NDP’s Cape Breton-The Lakes nominating convention in Eskasoni, where Mi’kmaq John Frank Toney was acclaimed. Toney’s nomination, tacitly endorsed by Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny, is good news for Conservative MLA Keith Bain, who faces a tough fight in a greatly expanded riding against Liberal Pam Eyking, wife of Mark Eyking, MP for Cape Breton-The Sydneys. Toney’s entry into the race essentially takes the large Mi’kmaq community, where Bain is not well known, out of play as far as the front runners are concerned. Racking up a large margin in Eskasoni had been a key element in the Liberal strategy.

Since polls show the Liberals to be the main threat to the Dexter government’s re-election, NDP strategists may be content to help the popular Conservative retain a riding they have no realistic hope of winning.

[Photo: Mike Targett]

CBRM’s war on young people — a different view

Grad student, cultural activist, and entrepreneur Mike Targett writes:

I appreciate a lot of Jay Macneil’s general complaint. I’ve made similar ones about decision-makers not trying hard enough to make this place more livable, and even actively trying to make it less livable. I can even be pretty cynical about council at times. Maybe that cynicism is what made me think twice about this vote, since Morgan the populist voted with Kim Deveaux the radical. Curious.

Did Morgan vote for what he knew would be the popular sentiment (“All he wanted to do was dance!”) despite testimony from the Chief of Police that the dances were phenomenally unsafe? But that’s not all council voted on. There were two motions put forward on Tuesday, and it’s the second one that MacNeil ignores in his rant:

  1. Councillor Derek Mombourquette brought the motion to council to ban the dances, not because he hates young people (he practically is one), but because the Chief of Police told him the dances were a danger to the kids who attend and the police could no longer ensure their safety. I suspect that, after this police testimony, council probably couldn’t continue to allow the dances at municipally-owned buildings, as such, without being liable for what goes on. (Maybe why the schools stopped holding the dances in the first place.)
  2. Council then agreed to put resources into a committee made up of police, schools, decision-makers, and kids themselves, to come up with a way to create a safe environment for kids to have fun. (Or, I suppose, more realistically: ways to provide a reasonably safe environment.)

So if you take [1] and [2] together, council didn’t really ‘ban’ dances at this venue, they only suspended the dances until those dances can be made safe(r) for the kids who attend.

The schools, on the other hand, seem to believe the dances themselves were the problem… rather than alcohol, drugs, and violence being the problem. The schools seem to have said, ‘Ban dances, problem solved.’

All the schools solved was their own problem of liability. Whereas, if we give council the benefit of the doubt (I can’t believe I’m saying that), what they’re really saying is that the problem goes beyond the dances themselves, and that creating a safe and fun atmosphere for kids is the responsibility of the community (and should be a priority of the community).

So the community — especially the “people in this community who spend their entire day trying to find ways to inspire and engage the youth of their community” — should get behind the new committee [2] instead of blaming council for doing what they (likely) had to [1].

A veteran speaks out against grief porn – (ctd.)

Contrarian reader RM thinks our post crossed the line:

[T]his commentary was in poor taste. Yes, this veteran has every right to comment, but I think it is more important to respect the views of the the family of the fallen soldier. Let us make our comments without seeming to criticize the wishes of the family.
Thanks to the many readers who pointed out that our link to CBC-Cape Breton reporter Bobby Nock’s interview was broken, and thanks to website wizard Mike Targett for fixing it while Contrarian was helplessly sans Internet over the far Northern Atlantic.

More begrudgery


Contrarian has some highbrow friends, including Mike Targett, who weighs into the begrudgery debate quoting Wittgenstein:  “The meaning of a word is its use in the language.”

That is the classic formulation of descriptivism, the reigning philosophy among lexicographers. The trouble with descriptivism is that it leads to definitions like this one, from Merriam-Webster: “biweekly: 1. occurring twice a week; 2. occurring every two weeks.” It’s true, people use biweekly to mean both things, but sometimes you need a prescriptive dictionary to tell you what a word really means. I’m with Lindsay Brown on that score.

Contrarian and friends on blogging

Contrarian will be at the Inverary Inn‘s Thistledown Pub in Baddeck this evening to lead a discussion about blogging sponsored by the Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival, the group that organized this event last fall. In addition to an annual fall festival, the group plans a series of satellite events, of which tonight’s discussion is the first. I’ll be talking about the writerly (journalistic, aesthetic, ethical) aspects of blogging; Mike Targett will be on hand to backstop me on those issues, and to add his technical smarts to the discussion.

The pub serves supper from 5:30 to 8; The fireside blogging discussion, upstairs in the lounge, will begin at 7, followed by live entertainment at 8. So come any time before 7.

A way out of a wrongheaded promise

I’ve criticized the NDP’s carbon subsidy (here, here, and here,), but I understand the value of keeping campaign promises, even dumb ones. In my contrary view, public cynicism about politicians is so deep, it threatens to destroy the minimal level of public trust democracy needs to survive. This may be why the Tories and the Parliamentary Press Gallery have been so successful at drumming up absurd faux-outrage at the prospect of a fall election.

So even as two of the Dexter government’s promises (keeping all rural emergency rooms open and using tax rebates to encourage electricity consumption) make me shudder, I can’t help but admire Dexter’s determination to implement them.

Contrarian’s friend Mike Targett suggests a way out of this self-set trap:

While the NDP’s home insulation & energy-efficiency improvement program for low-income earners is a good idea, the electricity rebate is an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy that will likely encourage wasteful consumption precisely because it is not targeted at those in need.

Here’s my idea: those on one side of the wage gap donate their rebate to a fund that feeds into the energy-efficiency program for low-incomers. This fund could be set up by a charity or the province itself. If only 6 or 7 thousand people did this, it would double the program’s current budget.

How about it, Darrell?

On the debate over the Wark Principle, Targett adds:

Home-heat is a necessity; carbon emissions are not. A carbon tax (exempt low-incomers) would fund renewable energy development in order to decouple energy from carbon. Of course, as we’ve seen, it can’t be called a tax. Since averting climate catastrophe ensures a livable future for our children and grandchildren, we could just call it an RFSP: Registered Future Saving Plan.