A drawing of an old-fashioned pen nib. Underneath are the words, "Use AI to write an obituary. Our online ObitWriter (trademark) turns your memories into a well-written obituary in minutes. Get Started withObitWriter.
Sure, use AI to write an obituary. Why not?

November subscription drive

I don’t understand the “for the cost of a coffee” kind of subscription drive language. “For the cost of two coffees, you could subscribe to the Halifax Examiner for a month!” Yeah, OK, but if I’m a person who buys a coffee or two a day, I’m probably still going to do that. I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like a great argument to me. And maybe kind of insulting too.

Plus, not everyone drinks coffee. (Maybe I shouldn’t be so literal-minded.)

Here, I think, is a better pitch.

Last week, the Big Story podcast ran an episode called “Local news is at a tipping point. Will it survive?” Host Jordan Heath-Rawlings was joined by guest April Lindgren, principal investigator for the Local News Research Project (LNRP) at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Journalism.

Lindgren gave some stark numbers on the number of news outlets that have closed across Canada in the past 15 years (511, in 342 communities), and pointed out that just over 200 new ones have opened. That’s a lot of lost local news.

She gave a striking example from Dryden, Ontario of what can happen when the local newspaper shuts down:

I was talking to the mayor a while ago, and he was saying that they had a newly elected city council with a lot of new councillors on it, and they took the advice of their staff and said, OK, we’re going to put in place a tax on service lots in our town that are vacant… So they voted in favour of the tax. Well, then the news finally gets out to the community and they’ve got an uproar on their hands from people who own all of these lots…

There were a whole lot of problems and political turmoil because there had been no reporting on this process… When the staff had recommended it, nobody reported it. When council talked about it in the early stages, nobody was reporting on it. So it completely blindsided citizens.

So it’s bad for people who live in a community, because they don’t know about decisions that are being made on their behalf. And it also makes places more difficult to govern because everybody thinks that these poor souls who have volunteered to be their city councillors are always up to something nefarious, or making bad decisions, or ignoring them. So there are real consequences when there’s not reliable, timely news that’s produced independent of vested interests.

“Reliable, timely news that’s produced independent of vested interests?” Kind of sounds like the Halifax Examiner to me. Join all the others who’ve signed up this month, and subscribe here.

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1. SaltWire paywalls obituaries

close up photography of concrete tombstones
Photo by Mike Bird on Pexels.com Credit: Mike Bird

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

November is the month the Halifax Examiner goes on a subscription blitz. We ask existing readers like you to please renew and to beat the drum to entice family and friends to sign up for lively independent journalism.  

What we hadn’t realized until a couple of sharp-eyed Examiner subscribers brought it to our attention was that SaltWire, which owns the Chronicle Herald, is also seeking new subscribers. And the brain trust at the newspaper chain has chosen to attract new readers with a pitch that has already alienated people. 

It wants you to pay to read the obituaries. 

Until now, obituaries or death notices published in five SaltWire publications across Atlantic Canada have been available (at no charge) on the SaltWire website.  

But last week, readers who went looking for an obituary discovered they will have to become digital subscribers to the Chronicle Herald or one of the other newspapers in the stable to find out who died in their community.  

Of course, the obituaries themselves have already been bought and paid for by the families of the deceased. Obituary notices are cash cows for SaltWire. Four lines of type cost $25.92 through the week, and more if the obit is published on a Saturday. A photo starts at $34.50 (plus $25.92 for each one-half inch of column space it takes up).  

The cost of a concise obituary containing a small photo and information about the surviving family members and funeral arrangements often ranges between $500 to $800. That’s just for one day.  

But concerns raised by this back-door subscription drive on the part of SaltWire are less about cost and more about the unnecessary restriction and loss of information on both a personal and practical level. 

Here is an excerpt from one message the Examiner received from a woman grieving the loss of her son:

When he died, we placed an obituary in ‘The Herald’ with the knowledge it would be widely viewed and available in some sort of perpetuity. We paid handsomely for this — $2,193.54 to be exact. I maintained a link to the obituary which I would share with other folks from time to time or simply read it myself again as I felt it was a great tribute to our son… I feel betrayed that I must now sign up and pay again for what I’ve already purchased. 

On a more objective level, I am concerned at the loss of free access to obituaries for those doing genealogical research (another reason I published my son’s obituary on SaltWire). As a genealogical enthusiast, I have searched for and read obituaries on many platforms over the years. I believe that this kind of source material should be freely available. 

In addition, we have reached an age where we check the obituaries on a regular basis. One never knows when one will see a familiar face therein.

SaltWire’s explanation for the reason obituaries will no longer be free to read was contained in “A Message to Our Valued Readers.” In the following explanation, the word “members” refers to readers.  

From Saltwire: 

In the past, obituaries were only available in our print products. For non-print members looking to read obituaries, it necessitated the purchase of a single copy from a local store, a visit to the library or another method. For those who view these items on our website regularly, we are asking our readers for their support to keep this service available and sustainable.

Visitors to the site who are not registered see a pop-up window with the message. It adds that in order to read the obituaries, readers must register with SaltWire for 30 days of free access, then “a membership will be required for unlimited access.” The message refers to this as “a slight change.”

It’s unclear why Saltwire needs more money to keep the obituary service “sustainable” considering the bills are paid by families, in addition to the advertisers. Certainly, Nova Scotians who live in most communities outside HRM no longer have the option of reading a print version because SaltWire stopped home delivery more than a year ago.  

After the 30-day free trial, reading the obituaries online will require a subscription. First-time subscribers get a huge discount ($26 a year) but renewing the digital subscription will increase to $60 the following year.  

Some Nova Scotia residents might want to check out Legacy.com, a website which aggregates obituary information provided by funeral homes. (You can search by city.)

As subscription drives go, doubling down on death might gain SaltWire new subscribers. But it won’t do anything to improve its reputation among Atlantic Canadians who rely on its content to live up to its increasingly questionable title as “the newspaper of record” in their community.

Philip here:
I just have to jump in and add something to Jennifer’s piece. As Jennifer notes, you can find most obituaries online free. It is one of the bits of content in the paper that the paper is paid to run. Sorry, I am overdoing it on the italics. I just can’t wrap my head around how boneheaded this is. It’s like making us pay for sponsored content. And it’s alienating what’s left of the publications’ core readership.

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2. New ‘affordable’ housing projects announced

At a row of houses under construction on a sunny day, workers grip a window from the inside as they lift it into place.
Workers install a window at a home under construction on Nadia Drive in Dartmouth on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Three new affordable housing projects will be built in Middle Sackville, Cole Harbour, and Bridgewater. The projects fall under under the province’s Land for Housing Program,” Suzanne Rent reports.

Note that unlike projects announced last month, these will not be public housing, but will be built by three developers: Metro Premier Properties Inc., Millwood Developments, and ARC Developments.

The projects were announced by Twila Grosse, the minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, speaking on behalf of Housing Minister John Lohr. She said affordable is defined as being 80% of the average market rent in the area where each of the developments will be built. Given the stratospheric rent increases we’ve seen over the last few years, it seems we are practically giving away land to developers to build units most people will not be able to afford.

Click or tap here to read “Nova Scotia announces three affordable housing projects for Bridgewater, Halifax area.”

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3. New nursing home beds coming

A construction site featuring opened chained link fencing, beyond which you can see gravel, trees, blue sky with clouds, and a yellow piece of construction equipment digging into rock.
Construction beside the Sagewood in Lower Sackville on Cobequid Road, Nov. 20, 2023. A new 144-room long-term care facility is slated to open there in 2025. Credit: Yvette d’Entremont

“The Houston government has announced a multi-year plan to build an additional 2,200 nursing home beds across Nova Scotia,” Jennifer Henderson reports.

The new rooms will be built over a nine-year period, while another 3,500 existing rooms will be renovated. Why nine years? From Henderson’s story:

Officials with the Department of Seniors and Long-term Care told reporters the purpose of developing a nine-year timetable is to spread out the building and the staffing of the new facilities. Human resources are a constraint on meeting the demand.  

Click or tap here to read “Nova Scotia to open 2,200 new nursing home beds across province.”

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4. WeWork and false “tech company” framing

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Photo by CoWomen on Pexels.com Credit: CoWomen

Co-working grift, startup, company WeWork went bankrupt recently. I don’t care one way or another about WeWork, and I can see some value in having co-working spaces available (I used one regularly for a few months back in 2017), but I am interested in WeWork as an example of uncritical reporting and misleading framing.

WeWork’s premise was about as simple and boring as you can get: Sign long-term leases at favourable rates, then rent out those spaces in bits and bobs to individuals for more money. Sure, there might be coffee and arcade games or whatever, but fundamentally, that was the business model. Lease space, rent it out for more.

But WeWork was headed by Adam Neumann, a huckster good at getting attention, and so it was breathlessly reported on as a tech company, meaning all kinds of gazillions dollars came its way.

Last week, on CBC’s Front Burner podcast, Daemon Fairless interviewed Eliot Brown, co-author of the book The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann and The Great Startup Delusion.

This part of the interview really jumped out at me. Brown says:

They’re signing a long term lease with the landlord and then filling it with glassy offices and kombucha on tap and renting to tenants short term, a month at a time, for a higher price. Honestly, I mean, you know, we spent a long time, years of my life sort of looking into this. Almost with time, it gets harder to understand how he was able to make people see something that was so clearly just a kind of boring real estate company and like make them see a tech company. But like part of it was just that that’s the environment that we were in. When you have a bubble of frenzy, people really just put off critical thinking and sort of are thirsting to believe in something that can make them lots of money.

Of course, Neumann didn’t pitch WeWork as a boring real estate company. It was going to transform people’s lives, end loneliness, build community and so on. At one point, Brown says, the company’s mission statement involved “elevating the world’s consciousness.”

(If building community is listening to the guy at the next desk loudly banging on about how the feds have failed him by not subsidizing his questionable “tech” venture, then, in my experience, co-working is very successful.)

By positioning itself as a tech company, WeWork was tapping into the Silicon Valley great man mythos, Brown says:

They were 100% a product of and creation of sort of Silicon Valley founder worship. And it’s almost as though Adam kind of studied the thing that was most likely to get venture capitalists to throw money at you. But there’s basically been in the past 10 or 15 years in Silicon Valley, this kind of meme that founders are these omnipotent beings. And it’s really modelled after Steve Jobs and the mystique around him with Apple, where he sort of, you know, ran Apple, then got tossed out, then came back and saved the day. And, you know, the idea is only a founder can have real drive, not some buttoned up for-hire CEO… Really, they want somebody who can also sell a vision to somebody else. And so that’s effectively what Adam is. I mean, he is a salesperson above all else.

Fairless draws a parallel with the fall of cryptocurrency, and Brown agrees:

The market is changing. I think both of them were products of a frenzy, and there’s no longer a frenzy outside of kind of the AI world. So maybe that’s one answer if I were guessing. But, you know, they’ll come from somewhere again. I mean, this is… again, bubbles make people do really silly things. And in a hysteria when everyone seems to be getting rich, you really just start to believe in people, in things that, you know, in more sedate times seem ludicrous.

I noticed that a CBC story last week on the demise of WeWork called it a “tech company.”

In 2020, I wrote about how coverage of businesses like Uber and Airbnb would be different if they weren’t framed as tech companies, with all the accompanying gee-whiz writing that brings. What if Uber was covered as a labour issue? If it were, we probably wouldn’t be seeing people still referring to it as a “ride-sharing” company. In that 2020 Morning File, I quoted writer Sam Harnett on “the collective media swoon” over these supposed tech companies:

App-based service-delivery companies aren’t developing silicon chips like Intel or AMD, creating consumer software like Adobe, or making networking switches like Cisco. They don’t get money from inventing new tech, but from venture capital and by taking a slice of every transaction made by their contingent labor force…

Whenever news breaks there is a critical time frame where terms are established to describe what is happening. This language develops into a sticky shorthand that is repeated again and again…

When I started covering companies like Uber, I found myself increasingly encountering these problematic terms. These included Silicon Valley-speak like “pivot,” “friction,” “innovate,” “disrupt,” “platform,” and “startup,” but also big, baggy words like “freedom” and “efficiency.” Companies like Uber and Lyft got their own section on my list with terms like “transportation network company,” “gig,” “rideshare,” “sharing economy,” and “collaborative consumption.” I fought to cut these terms, but I was sometimes overruled or had to settle for scare quotes because editors thought these words were essential and benign. Eventually, the editor I was working with came to understand that a word like “startup” was editorializing because it was endowed with positive associations (new, fresh, not your typical corporation!) yet provided no concrete definition (how old can a startup be? how many employees can it have? how much revenue?).

Even when there is some potentially interesting tech involved, the companies behind it tend to cover up how much of the work is actually being done by humans, along with the failures of the technology. GM’s “self-driving” Cruise cars turn out to be monitored remotely by humans, who have to intervene in the “self-driving” with great regularity. When a Cruise car ran over and dragged a pedestrian, the company didn’t release the full video to regulators, making the car’s actions not seem as terrible as they were. Elon Musk’s Tesla has been caught faking self-driving videos. The cute delivery robots are controlled by people operating them with joysticks remotely. And on and on and on.

Isn’t it amazing that as soon as crypto crashed, AI was the next big thing? There’s always a next big thing. In Nova Scotia, the next big thing is just around the corner, and has been for decades. Are we still aiming to be the world’s best startup ecosystem? I don’t know. Now we’re going to transform the economy through spaceports and hydrogen.

When the projects turn out to be just more of the same, the founders walk away with handsome payouts, and the next frenzy appears on the horizon.

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5. $50 million for electric buses

A row of parked bright blue buses with very large windshields.
Electric public buses in Colombia. Credit: Photo by BYD Colombia via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5 DEED)

Canada’s National Observer reports on $50 million in funding from three levels of government, to start electrifying transit in Cape Breton.

From the story:

The bulk of transportation funding doled out by the federal government only covers the cost of the buses and the construction of charging infrastructure — like the funding announcement for Cape Breton. It doesn’t provide money for ongoing expenses, like staff or maintenance.

Approximately 2,000 buses in the country aren’t being used because of a lack of funding for drivers and other workers needed, notes Nate Wallace, program manager of clean transportation at Environmental Defence.

“Great to see capital investment. Like we need more buses, we need more accessible stations and such. But we need more support for communities to be able to pay the operators that actually run the service day to day,” said [Ben] Hammer [of the Ecology Action Centre].

The start of this story made me think of those pieces along the lines of “What if we wrote about Toronto the way the Globe and Mail writes about everyone else”:

An island in Eastern Canada is set to receive its first-ever electric buses following an investment of over $50 million from the federal, provincial and regional governments.

Cape Breton, an island connected to mainland Nova Scotia by a causeway, will also upgrade its existing bus facility with the funds.

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Nothing says love like an AI-written obituary

A drawing of an old-fashioned pen nib. Underneath are the words, "Use AI to write an obituary. Our online ObitWriter (trademark) turns your memories into a well-written obituary in minutes. Get Started withObitWriter.
Sure, use AI to write an obituary. Why not?

When I was adding the legacy.com link to News item 1, by Jennifer Henderson, I noticed this prompt to use AI to write an obituary.

I will set aside the fact that there is no actual intelligence involved here. Not even close. (Uh, looks like I am not setting it aside.) Essentially, the “AI” writer uses a template, based on information you provide, to assemble an obituary based on known language patterns. ObitWriter asks you to fill in a bunch of fields, and, of course, even the decision on what those fields are represents choices and assumptions. It didn’t ask what political movements the person was involved in, but it does prompt for career achievements.

I created a fictional sort-of alter ego called Glen Margaret, and asked the obit writer to come up with something. (While some of this stuff applies to me, obviously I did not use my real date of birth.) Also, I liked the fact that this artificial “intelligence” asked me for date of birth, date of death, and age at death. Like, can’t you figure out the last one from the first two?

Anyway, here’s the obit:

Glen Margaret, 54, of Montreal, passed away on November 10, 2023, in Halifax, NS. He was born on October 22, 1969, in Montreal. Glen was a writer for his whole life, with the odd job here and there. He was a contributor to several books and the author of one.

Glen was known to be a cranky bastard but also loveable. He always tried his best in everything he did. He enjoyed watching baseball, writing, baking sourdough bread, flower arranging, backcountry camping, and various other obsessions that came and went.

Glen is survived by his loved ones in Hacketts Cove, Sambro Loop, and Sheet Harbour. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

A screening of the Phantom of the Paradise will be held in his honor. The funeral services will be arranged by Weber’s Funeral Home in Halifax.

Please join us in remembering and celebrating the life of Glen Margaret. May his soul rest in peace.

Bland as can be. One interesting thing: I entered Hacketts Cove, Sambro Loop, and Sheet Harbour as names of surviving relatives, but the system did recognize them as place names, and adjusted accordingly.

After you produce your obit, you can edit it, or you can change its tone. I took another crack at it, this time asking for “playful”:

Glen Margaret, 54, of Montreal, bid adieu to this world on November 10, 2023, in Halifax, NS. Born on October 22, 1969, in Montreal, Glen took the stage for his final act. As a lifelong writer, he penned his way through life, sprinkling his words across the pages like confetti. He even managed to contribute to several books and author one of his own. Talk about leaving a wordy legacy!

Now, let’s talk about Glen’s unique charm. He was a cranky bastard, but hey, even loveable curmudgeons have their place in this world. Glen always gave it his all, even when he was tempted to throw his typewriter out the window. When he wasn’t busy crafting stories, you could find him indulging in his eclectic range of hobbies. From watching baseball to writing, baking sourdough bread to flower arranging, and even backcountry camping, Glen had more passions than a squirrel has acorns. Let’s not forget about his ever-changing obsessions that kept life interesting.

Glen leaves behind a trail of memories in Hacketts Cove, Sambro Loop, and Sheet Harbour. His departure has left a void in the hearts of his family and friends, who will forever cherish his unique spirit.

To honor Glen’s peculiar tastes, a special screening of the Phantom of the Paradise will be held in his honor. It’s only fitting that we celebrate his love for the dramatic and the unconventional. Weber’s Funeral Home in Halifax will be orchestrating the final act of Glen’s journey.

So, let’s raise a glass and bid farewell to Glen Margaret, the wordsmith extraordinaire. May his soul find eternal inspiration in the great library in the sky. Cheers, Glen!

Somehow, I find this one even more depressing. Fake zaniness. The worst.

There is a “religious” option available, so bow your heads please, as we move on to that one:

In humble remembrance, we gather to honor the life of Glen Margaret, a faithful soul who journeyed from Montreal to Halifax, NS, bidding farewell to this mortal realm on November 10, 2023. Born on October 22, 1969, in Montreal, Glen’s earthly pilgrimage was adorned with the sacred gift of words. As a devoted writer, he weaved his tales with grace and gratitude, leaving an indelible mark upon the tapestry of literature.

In his humble pursuit of knowledge, Glen treaded the halls of the University of King’s College, seeking wisdom and enlightenment. His quill danced across parchment, capturing the essence of worlds both real and imagined. Through his writings, Glen shared his reverence for all of creation, reminding us to cherish the intricate beauty surrounding us.

Yet, beyond his literary endeavors, Glen’s heart overflowed with humility and respect for the divine order. Through his actions, he demonstrated a love for the natural world, finding solace in the embrace of nature’s bounty. Whether watching baseball, writing, baking sourdough bread, or tending to delicate blossoms, Glen found joy in honoring the sacred rhythm of life.

With bowed heads, we acknowledge those left behind who mourn the loss of this gentle soul. In Hacketts Cove, Sambro Loop, and Sheet Harbour, Glen’s memory will forever be held dear, an eternal flame of love and remembrance.

As we humbly gather to celebrate his life, let us offer a solemn prayer. May Glen Margaret’s spirit find solace and serenity in the eternal embrace. May his words continue to inspire hearts and minds, guiding us on our own sacred journeys. And may the services, entrusted to the caring hands of Weber’s Funeral Home in Halifax, be a testament to the reverence with which we honor Glen’s memory.

In this hour of farewell, we reflect upon the beauty of Glen’s spirit and the legacy he leaves behind. May his soul find peace in the realm of eternal grace, forever held in the arms of the Divine. Blessed be Glen Margaret, a cherished soul who now rests in the gentle embrace of the cosmos.

“His quill danced across parchment.” Many laughing emojis here please.

Nothing says love and care like AI-generating someone’s obituary. Who is this for? Do you feel good about yourself if you AI-generate an obituary? But Philip, you might say, what about people who don’t write particularly well? Well, funeral homes tend to be involved in deaths, and it’s their job to have people on staff who can help you polish or even write an obit. They do what the AI does: Ask questions, assemble the information, run it by you to see what you think, adjust the tone. Unlike the AI, they can be personal about it too.

It’s true that most obituaries follow a particular form. And, of course there are templates. So you can see how it might be tempting to just automate the whole process (if you are of a particular mindset, that is). But stuff like this makes me wonder what the hell we are here for. What are we doing that’s so important that we can’t take the time and care to write an obituary? Is that really where we need to save time? What are we saving it for? What is the point of creating a situation where we have a bunch of machines talking to each other? (I know the point: see the bit on frenzies and bubbles, above.)

Recently, a friend’s father died, and our friend wrote a lovely obituary. It was genuine, funny, sad, and captured a real sense of his dad and what it was like to grow up with him. A really wonderful tribute.

As I was writing this item, the latest issue of Dan Epstein’s substack newsletter, Jagged Time Lapse, arrived in my inbox. It is a remembrance of his cat Otis Levon Epstein (Dan is a music writer), who died a few days ago.

Epstein writes:

He loved watching birds through the window, sleeping in a good sun patch, playing with his cat-dancer, hanging out in the boys’ cat tower, getting his chin scratched and belly rubbed, and lugging a giant catnip carrot from room to room, the latter endeavor usually meant as some sort of offering to me. Because of all the things Otis loved, I can say without ego or exaggeration that it was me he loved the most.

Most of the cats I’ve had over the years have had their own agenda — they’re friendly and cuddly when they want to be (or want something), but mostly they’re content to do their own thing. But the two orange-and-white cats that have been part of my life (Mentos, who was with me from 1995 to 2007, and Otis) made it very clear that was their agenda. Otis and I were practically glued to the hip from his first days in our house, and he would usually find some way to be at my side, in my lap or tucked inside the crook of my elbow regardless of what I was doing at the time.

Otis regularly “crashed” my Zoom meetings and interviews, usually to the considerable amusement of whomever I was speaking with at that moment, and there were countless times were he would sit in my lap or perch upon the back of my desk chair while I was writing. If I was working outside in the garden, or reading out on my deck, he would sit in the window and complain bitterly until I finally came back inside. At night, he would usually sleep curled up next to my head on the pillow, on a cat bed by my feet, or firmly ensconced between my knees.

You don’t have to know Epstein, or I suspect, even like cats, to appreciate this writing, his loss, and what the companionship of his cat meant to him.

Last week, in her newsletter The Sword and the Sandwich, Talia Lavin wrote a cri de coeur entitled “Fuck You and Your Word-Stealing Machine.”

Lavin writes:

Perhaps I’m standing athwart progress. Feet planted, arms akimbo, ignorantly declaring that I think human beings are better than machines at stuff like observing the world and distilling it into reasoned observation. I think humans are better at journalism and art in an inviolable and sacred way, and a bunch of turds with a lot of money soullessly remixing creativity they’ve stolen into pixel batches should be hurled into the sun with a cannon. This is perhaps the wittering of an ignoramus, or worse, a fanatic…

Paying writers for their work—as opposed to stealing it outright—would nullify the ability of these programs to grow to a point where they could usurp human writers and artists, thus obviating the need for humans to be part of any form of creation.

Fucking good, obviously. I mean, if your work depends on theft at a massive scale in order to proceed with its goal of stealing bread from people’s mouths, that work should not exist. Am I right? I think I am right. I’m not tremendously confident in the U.S. Copyright Office’s inclination or ability to oppose billionaire-led investments in “the future”—little precedent suggests that the US government is willing to stand against very rich people in any capacity—but if they do, so help me god, I’ll be standing behind them with a big plaque saying “WRITING SHOULD BE DONE BY HUMAN BEINGS OR NOT AT ALL.” Or, to quote Jay Caspian Kang in the New Yorker, “Perhaps the personal quality in writing is a happy accident, and a lot of journalism could be replaced with an immense surveillance state with a GPT-4 plug-in. But the reason we read books and listen to songs and look at paintings is to see the self in another self, or even to just see what other people are capable of creating.”

Write an obituary yourself. Or get help from other people. Have a little humanity.

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Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall and online) — agenda

Accessibility Advisory Committee – Town Hall (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Halifax Central Library and online) — agenda


Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, online) — agenda

Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate, and online) — agenda



Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place and online) — Peer Support: Community Facilities; with representatives from Atlantic Centre for Trauma; Landing Strong; Replenish Around Shipmates Veterans Society; and Rally Point Retreat


Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place and online) — Student Housing Needs; with representatives from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the Department of Advanced Education

On campus



Baroque Performance Practice Masterclass with Marie Bouchard (Tuesday, 2:30pm, St. Andrew’s Church, Halifax) — more info here


Dal Bookstore Annual Yard Sale (Wednesday, 9:30am, Student Union Building, Halifax and Cox Institute, Truro) — daily until Friday

Woodwinds Noon Hour (Wednesday, 11:45am, Strug Concert Hall) — selections from students’ repertoire

Europe and EUrope – Ukraine and the Identity War (Wednesday, 1pm, Room 1016, Rowe Management Building) — public lecture by Russell Foster, Carleton University and King’s College London



An Evening with Darren Calabrese (Tuesday, 6:30pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — the Halifax-based documentary and editorial photographer will discuss his first bookLeaving Good Things Behind:

… an honest look at grief coupled with a profoundly moving meditation on home and what it means to be of a place. Examining the tradition and cultures that run so deeply in the Atlantic provinces, stitched into the fabric of the place that so many call home, Darren creates a visual elegy through his documentary photojournalism that pairs effortlessly with his family’s century-old photos from the region. 


Acadian Driftwood – One Family and the Great Expulsion (Wednesday, 7pm, Halifax Central Public Library) — MFA Book Club featuring author Tyler LeBlanc; from the listing:

Piecing together his family history through archival documents, LeBlanc tells the story of Joseph LeBlanc (his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather), Joseph’s ten siblings and their families. With descendants scattered across modern-day Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the LeBlancs provide a window into the diverse fates that awaited the Acadians when they were expelled from their homeland. Some escaped the deportation and were able to retreat into the wilderness. Others found their way back to Acadie. But many were exiled to Britain, France, or the future United States, where they faced suspicion and prejudice and struggled to settle into new lives. A unique biographical approach to the history of the Expulsion, Acadian Driftwood is a vivid insight into one family’s experience of this traumatic event.

Our Hearts Aren’t Disabled (Wednesday, 7pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — screening of film and Q&A with filmmaker Josh Dunn; from the listing: 

This movie examines the romantic lives and trials of six people living with mobility challenges. Its characters are people of different ages, genders, orientations and ethnicities.

Josh, a multi-disciplinary artist, features as both subject and interviewer as he endeavors to shed light on the difficulties he and others face. Sometimes a painful journey filled with heartbreak, the film also features a healthy dose of wit, humor and perseverance, helping the viewer to see that disability places no barrier on the power and beauty of one’s humanity.

RSVP here.



No events


FEAST (Wednesday, 11am, Anna Leonowens Gallery) — artists and curators will discuss their work

Noon Talk (Wednesday, 12pm, Anna Leonowens Gallery) — with Shoora Majedian

Artist Talk (Wednesday, 12pm, Port Loggia Gallery) — with Kate Dong

social choreography lab (Wednesday, 1pm, Anna Leonowens Gallery) — with Laura Runions; info and rsvp here

In the harbour


12:00: Harbour Feature, oil/chemical tanker, arrives at Irving Oil Woodside from New York City
13:00: Themis, car carrier, sails from Autoport for New York City
14:00: Atlantic Swordfish, barge, moves from Exxon Mobil dock to alongside Orion
17:00: ZIM Atlantic, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove west from Valencia
22:00: Baie St.Paul, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
22:30: One Grus, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea

Cape Breton

12:00: SFL Trinity, oil tanker, arrives at Everwind from New York City
16:00: Algoma Value, bulker, moves from Anchor to alongside INO Horizon


I saw an article recently on how to find new music. (Some of the advice seemed very basic, like pay attention to the names of artists on a playlist and then look for more of their work.) So I figured I would share one of my favourite, dead-easy tricks for finding new (to you) streaming music. Go to the search bar, and then just start typing in a random string of letters, or the first word that comes to mind. See who comes up. Listen to them. This is how I came to write this morning file while listening to Swedish jazz pianist Bobo Stenson.

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Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. “(If building community is listening to the guy at the next desk loudly banging on about how the feds have failed him by not subsidizing his questionable “tech” venture, then, in my experience, co-working is very successful.)”
    I laughed out load at this – great writing. Would love to see more of this quality wit in the wild, but alas, I am stuck with government reports.

  2. How can you charge a family for placing an obituary honouring someone they loved and then place it behind a paywall? I cannot get my head around that. I’m sure Mr. Dennis must be rolling over in his grave. His daughter, Sarah, grew up in the business. Where is she in these decisions? It seems to me that she is allowing her husband, with no newspaper background, and possibly with fewer morals to make these decisions. Shame on you Sarah Dennes.

  3. I’ve got a good example of an effect of the death of local media today in Truro.

    I’ve got posts on my Facebook where people are talking about Truro police having confiscated tents from unhoused people who’ve been living in public spaces. I want to write to the town council to complain about it, but I have zero facts to go on. I’m commenting on posts, asking people for information. And some people are taking the time to reply to me with what they know. But we do not have an actual newspaper in town anymore (apologies to those who may work for what’s left of the Truro Daily) and I cannot find a photo or anything I can reliably refer to in a letter of complaint.

    Looks like I’m going to be forced to write my councilor with: “From what I’ve heard…” This is a deeply troubling situation.

  4. I dropped my subscription to the Herald recently, after about 50 years. It has declined to an unacceptable level, as prices kept rising. Now they are double charging for obituaries. Shameless, unethical – but not surprising. By the way, the alternate site mentioned, Legacy.com, does not include Canada.

    1. Sign up to PressReader with your library card. Sal[wire papers and others from around the world are available for free.

  5. There’s a very good documentary about the obit writers for the New York Times, called (funny enough) Obit. Turns out they have obits of old, famous people ready to go in the event of death.

  6. If I ever needed a reason not to resubscribe to the Chronic Headache ( I stopped several years ago), you just gave it to me.

  7. Back in the very early 1970s, as the lowest level grunt in the Herald newsroom, one of my jobs was to write obituaries. The daily routine was to call around to funeral homes and get the latest passings from them. There was also phone line dedicated to obituaries to which people would call with the details on the loss of their loved ones. There was a formula that had to be followed to compose an obituary. There was not a lot of room for colorful adornments. If someone really wanted a fancy obit, they could pay but the basic “who, what, where, when and why” were included and it was considered a public service to publish it. Saltwire’s greed for trying to double charge for obits is beyond despicable and indicative of what I believe is desperation trying to grasp at money in their throws of their own corporate death struggle. I suspect the obit for Saltwire is likely being drafted now.

  8. All of the AI generated obits are very funny. The ode to Otis is very heart warming and sad at the same time. As a man who has had 2 cats in my life their passing was tragic.