Blog Posts

An open response to “Teachers have no right threatening education”

Dear Mr. Lavallee, You wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in The Chronicle Journal on Saturday, April 11: “Teachers have no right threatening education.” Your letter communicates a great deal of frustration with teachers, arguing that we suffer from a sense of entitlement, that we strike because we aren’t satisfied with how easy we already have it. You ask us how we “dare” to “hold our kids’ education hostage.” The truth is, the decision to strike is never an easy one.

On binge-watching

Two interesting television-related things happened this weekend that have me thinking about our (and by that I mean, my, I suppose) relationship with consuming new television shows in 2015. Firstly, Netflix released the first season of Daredevil, a “Netflix original” series it produced with ABC Studios for Marvel.

Fighting CryptoWall on Windows XP: caltrops, scorched earth, and triage

How was your Easter break? I spent a good portion of my four-day weekend fighting a ransomware attack. My boss’s computer at the art gallery (not at my other job) is still running Windows XP while connected to the Internet. This is, no joke, a terrible idea. But they are a not-for-profit organization with very little money—she is finally getting a modern computer in May. Not soon enough.

Modelling epidemics to learn about probability

My major focus in my work at the Adult Education Centre has been adapting online courses for the Hybrid Learning Project. Basically, these are high school courses adult learners can complete online, but there is also an in-person tutorial component to them. I’ve been adapting the e-Learning Ontario MDM4U (Grade 12 Data Management) course. I’m almost done. I could write an entire post about this assignment and how I feel about it, but that’s for another time.

You should watch Haphead

Recently one of the vloggers I follow, Nicole Coenen, tweeted about a video series she’s in. It’s called Haphead, and it’s an 8-part miniseries set in 2025 about young people, video games, and the pace of change. I’m a science fiction fan (big surprise, that), so I was immediately intrigued. I started watching the first episode … and I was hooked. As in, it has been a while since a TV show has so effortlessly drawn me into its world and made me want to watch more.

Haters gonna hate: we need Ontario's new sex ed curriculum

Ontario’s new health and physical education curriculum landed today. As with all curriculum documents, you can read it yourself. This marks the first revised curriculum since 1998/1999. I remember in 2010 being disappointed when the McGuinty government backtracked hard on its revised curriculum. Both Premier Wynne and Minister of Education Liz Sandals seem pretty committed to keeping this one around, however, and that’s a very good thing.

Currently Reading

Book Reviews

Red Mars cover image

Time to dig into some solar-system colonial fiction with Red Mars, the first in Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy about settling and terraforming our nearest planetary neighbour. First published over twenty years ago, the book holds up well despite the scientific advances two decades’ worth of rovers and satellites have provided. Robinson combines his ecologically-aware vision of the Earth’s future difficulties with a semi-realistic vision for planetary colonization. Throw in an ensemble cast of…

Odd and the Frost Giants cover image

Using the word versatile to describe Neil Gaiman is a bit like using the word crooked to describe a politician or talented to describe the holder of a world record for most pies eaten in an hour. It just seems obvious.

But think about it. Gaiman has written short stories and novels and all the lengths of fiction in between. He’s written comics/graphic novels. He writes for children and for adults, and picture books for both to boot. There is just nothing this man does not write. It’s a good thing…

The Slow Regard of Silent Things cover image

My, my, Patrick Rothfuss, aren’t we a little defensive about this book?

First you include a brief foreword, in which you warn us against buying this book, because this book is different. And fair enough. It’s centred on Auri, a minor character from your series, and one who is rather odd. The story itself is bound to be odd, as you warn us.

But then you add an afterword, in which you feel the need to relate a story about how Vi Hart (whom I adore, incidentally, as everything a mathematician and edu…

The Andalite's Gift (Megamorphs, #1) cover image

Seven books into the Animorphs series, and K.A. Applegate has a problem. The series is popular. Too popular. See, it’s so popular that its sales are already so high that any improvement is not only unlikely but mathematically impossible … unless she can come up with some way to make the series even bigger, even crazier. Something so wild that it transforms a horizontal asymptote on that time versus sales graph into a vertical one.

Enter Megamorphs. Whereas each regular book is told from a single…

Cracked Up to Be cover image

Another YA book from my 2009 days that I’ve taken forever to read. Well worth the wait, though: Cracked Up to Be is all it’s cracked up to be, in that it is a ripping good yarn about how high school is a messed up place. Courtney Summers manages to convey some of the issues that some teenagers face without trivializing them or wrapping them up in a neat little bow at the end. In so doing, she crafts YA that’s relevant, authentic, and powerful.

This is the story of Parker Fadley—an awkward name if…

The Diamond Conspiracy (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #4) cover image

I discovered this on my library’s new paperbacks shelf last week and literally squealed aloud. I have a warped perspective of this series’ publication structure because I’ve read the first three books in short succession to get caught up, so I had forgotten The Diamond Conspiracy was coming out so “soon” after I read Dawn’s Early Light.

A lot was riding on this book. With the disavowal of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences at the end of the previous book, the series was forging ahead into brand…