Peter Spurway thinks I'm romanticizing Don "Fuzzy" Bacich's legendary crankiness about patrons who wanted to slather his delicious French fries with ketchup: “… and another bastion of quality and tradition falters.” Tradition, yes. Quality? No. Not providing something that many of your customers would like to have has nothing to do with quality. It has everything to do with the perspective of the owner. While I certainly grant the owner the right to fashion their product to their own liking, they have to accept that a percentage of their current and potential customers are not going to like it and it will be seen by...

Facebook continually pesters me to entrer the "city" where I live, but rejects Kempt Head, Ross Ferry, Boularderie, and Cape Breton all of which are more-or-less accurate. It will allow me to enter Halifax, Sydney, or Baddeck, none of which is accurate. Contrast this with Google, which embraces locations with admirable granularity. Google effortlessly adopts islands, villages, hamlets—even micro-locations like Frankie's Pond and Parker's Beach—as long as it sees real people using them. This may seem a small thing, but it strikes me as a profound difference in the cultures of the two organizations. One constantly cajoles you into ill-fitting pigeonholes. The...

More than a million people have used Stephen Wolfram's Personal Analytics for Facebook, a web app that generates a fascinating visual report of your Facebook profile: age, gender, relationship status, and location of your FB friends; the number of your friends' friends and the number of their friends in common with you; your friends' most common first and last names; your most 'liked' post; your FB use by day of the week and time of day; and a word cloud of your posts (like mine, at right). Wolfram, best known as inventor of the computer program Mathematica and the search engine...

My postings here and on Facebook, voicing mixed feelings about Dave Wilson’s situation, provoked a ton of feedback. Publishing most of it will make for unusually long post, but it also shows public sentiment to be less lopsided than media coverage indicates. In cases like this, I believe reporters seek out and highlight the most dramatic responses, usually the vengeance-seekers, and this distorts our impression of the public mood. Plenty of people agree with me that Wilson has already suffered mightily. But not this neighbor:
As soon as he was caught, he went into hiding, now he's fessing up. A thief is a thief. I'm not kicking him when he's down. I just want him to pay for his crimes. I had a brother who went to the county for bootlegging when he had no work. He knew the job was dangerous when he took it. He got what he deserved and mama taught him better. Dave will get his pension and this will blow over. Just don't trust him with your signature. He is one of many who are the reason people don't have any faith in governments and other large institutions, like the catholic church!
A Dartmouth resident:
Revoking [his pension] makes no morse sense than any other random, vindictive retribution the mob might conjure. I don't care what [the neighbor quoted above] says, I think you're you're right to feel some pity for an addict. Gambling ruins lives. And the more we destroy the guy, the more we show other gambling addicts to keep their mouth shut and hope you win enough to hide your problem.
A reader:
Beautifully said.
Another reader:
I agree with your sentiments and arguments on this. Two successful and high profile MLAs publicly crumbling, with a gambling addiction the most likely poison, should have us questioning the social costs of that government-promoted world.
A Sydney businessman:
Well said, well done.
A former journalist who has moved on:
I don’t think you’re alone in that view on Dave Wilson. I always liked Dave, right back to the time I worked in the CJCB news room.
From a woman who has occupied high-profile federal and provincial posts in NS:
Thanks, Parker. You have expressed my view in far better, more complete terms than I could.
From a trade union official:
You softy, you.
From a reader
I have to agree with the sentiments expressed here. I also believe the Speaker of the House, Gordie Gosse, should appear in court and make a submission on sentencing. I firmly believe that Gordie should stress the damage caused to the reputations of all politicians and of all stripes. The idea of "tarring them all with the same brush" is not fair to the honest and conscientious politicians, whatever party they belong to. That is why I believe it is important to make a submission on behalf of all MLSs.
From Rick Howe:
Would you be available for a chat on my radio show re your thoughts on David? [And in response to my asking how he felt about it] I’m waffling. I, too, feel bad about David, he’s a friend, but I think a short jail sentence might be necessary to appease public outrage and send a message to other politicians.
A journalist who has moved on:
On the pension issue, point taken. There's no provision in the Criminal Code for appropriating offenders' pensions. But the rest -- the "fine man who's suffered enough" argument. Really? Ordinary scam-artists don't suffer when the law catches up with them? [And on further reflection] I agree about the disgusting bloodlust. Where does it come from? Is it from 3+ almost unbroken decades of short-sighted governance? Maybe Contrarian readers would like to catalogue the poor decisions for which we're still paying the consequences: Buchanan's decision to spend the offshore wealth before it made landfall; the neglect that's causing Halifax rot from the centre outwards; the indifference behind the decision outsource the immigration file; Sysco; the decision to kneecap John Savage before he could stand for re-election, etc. Or maybe people just sense that there is a ruling class in NS and it doesn't care about the suckers who pay the bills. Maybe it's the Bluenose equivalent of finally coming over the walls, lovingly sharpened sickles in hand and a gleam in the eye.
A reader:
Well said. Damn gambling got him and Zinck and goodness knows how many others have been victims of those damn machines. Just disgusting that all three parties refuse to say they will shut down the machines in bars and and anywhere else.
A Sydney woman:
His misdeeds - petty and poorly-executed, moves me to pity for it's ineptitude and pathos rather than righteous indignation. He "reads" to me, though, and again- unfortunately- as an older white man in a suit, seemingly above a little graft, or worse, entitled. Probably he believed in it a bit too much as well. Entitlement. The real question might be - *ahem* - are you identifying with it a bit too much yourself? We hate to see the white male do such a shabby job of a little sad cheat.
After the jump, some responses from Facebook:, a website about organizing and sharing home photography, illustrates Facebook's dominant role in photographic storage. Digital cameras are now ubiquitous - it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera. If the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos. That might sound implausible but this year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there. Already Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos, that’s over 10,000 times larger than the Library of...

In a local triumph for social media, Donnie Calabrese got his computer back today, 145 days after it was scooped up in a CBRM Police investigation of someone else, and one day after Donnie wrote a Facebook post about his frustrated attempts to reclaim it. From Donnie's Facebook wall today: Dear Friends, Got a call from the police at 11am. Got my computer back at 12. This has been one of the greatest most uplifting experiences of my life. I have infinite confidence in the competence and fortitude of all of my friends. I thank everyone who shared this, got angry,...

The following message greeted Scott Gillard, constituency assistant to Halifax Chebucto NDP MLA Howard Epstein, when he logged onto his Facebook account Tuesday: [Maybe you should "like"] Michael Ignatieff. Many who like Jack Layton like him. Well, Scott, for the sake of the country, maybe you should....

Matt McKeon turned the Electronic Freedom Foundation's chronology of eroding Facebook privacy settings into an interactive graphic showing how much of your FB data is visible, by default, to various categories of Internet users, by year. You can get a sense of the problem from these screenshots, but the details emerge best in McKeon's website. Still plotting my escape. Hat tip: Flowing data....

At a web app developers' conference on April 21, Facebook unveiled a breathtakingly ambitious program to reorganize the way personal information is shared on the Internet. The changes, known as Open Graph, are hard to summarize simply, but they include the use of cookies, login codes, and Facebook "like" buttons on other companies' websites, to automatically share user information and preferences with other websites, which then use that information to personalize a user's browsing experience. More detailed explanations here and here. With 415 million users, Facebook offers web developers a powerful incentive to play ball, and they have flocked to embrace the...