The Point

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Onward and upward

Tomato seedlings shimmy out of a seed pellet

It's time to give this blog something it deserved years ago: a fond farewell.

I started The Point back in 2006 because I was bursting with stories, but had nowhere to tell them. It began as an exercise in writing about news and books for a couple friends, and became the public notepad where I really started crafting my skills as a writer.

Eventually I just outgrew it. No regrets.

Over the years, I was blessed with readers who wanted to hear what I had to say about Canadian literature, human rights, and big gay music. I really appreciate the support and patience so many people gave me to try my hand writing about these things. It's given me the courage to get published and start broadcasting. So thank you.

The most popular posts on here by far have been two short comments on my friend Ross Moroz, and his suicide in 2007 (here and here). That's probably fitting, since Ross was a friend, a mentor, a mean big brother, the cool kid I looked up to, and most of the reason I have confidence in my writing today. I'm older now than he was when he died. I'd like to think he's inspired me to be a little more badass, and a little more brave, to honour the gifts he gave me.

I think it's important to be kind to your younger self, and though I find a lot of the writing on here pretty overwrought now, I have my own highlights from writing for The Point. I held a Where You Live photo contest that attracted some beautiful entries from around Alberta and BC, and once wrote about Adam Gopnik's thoughts on the emerging model of the 'mindful' interactive museum.

From the book review series that started this blog, I think I'm most fond of my posts about Norwegian Wood and The Year of Magical Thinking, The Remarkable Maria, and Cry, the Beloved Country.

If you're interested in what I'm up to now, boots on the ground is the website where I currently host my radio and print portfolio.

Thank you again to everybody who took the time to read and comment on this blog. You've helped me burst out of my seed.

I'll get the lights on my way out.
posted by Christopher at 3:12 a.m. | link | 0 comments

Friday, July 24, 2009

Storming Google

I know I've been absent for a long time, yadda yadda yadda. This is just too cool not to share.

A user-created Google map of the storm that ripped through Edmonton last weekend. With different icons for downed-trees, the CN Tower damage, and even flipped semis (!). I've had people mention that our neighbourhood was hit worse than others (and we did lose a tree). This map definitely shows a lot of wind damage in Mill Creek area. Crazy.


posted by Christopher at 2:43 a.m. | link | 0 comments

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Undressing Money

So, I'm back into the podcasting game, this time with an amazing co-host and a brand new show. It's called Money Undressed and you can find it here, where there'll be a link to the iTunes feed and info about how to tune in on Trent Radio here in Peterborough very soon.

I'm really excited about this show. As someone who actively resisted learning about economics until recently (and is, admittedly, pretty poor with personal finances), I never imagined how fascinating and horrified I'd be to learn about how our financial system works via lessons learned from its sudden unravelling. It's a weekly show, and we've got some great topics lined up, from what a credit crisis is to why our situation in Canada is different from what's going on in the US.

Check it out at!

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posted by Christopher at 4:56 a.m. | link | 2 comments

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Where We Are

Hi guys, thanks for continuing to stop by. I'm not back yet, but here's the official state of the union from Chris these days.

So I live with these two amazing friends of mine, Kate and Thalia. Kate used to be my editor at Arthur, and we have a lot of conversations about journalism and about the state of the world etc. A couple weeks ago we went to go see Frost/Nixon. It was fantastic, particularly for aspiring writers looking for some validation about the importance of what we do. We've also had a sort of research project going on since September, though, and that is learning about the implosion of the global economy as it happens.

You may have seen my post about the incredible special on radio show and podcast This American Life last year that told the story of all kinds of people connected to the market for mortgages. Homeowners, people who sold them mortgages, people who sold hundreds of thousands of mortgages to investors looking for a safe investment that'd make them a nice fat, dependable return. They got such a huge amount of feedback that two of the hosts on that episode, Adam Davidson and David Kestenbaum, have started a show about economics called Planet Money on NPR. And three times a week now, they blow my mind. And Kate's, incidentally.

We talk about the what the credit crisis means, and what money is, and what this recession is doing, so often that we decided we had to start our own radio show to figure out some of these questions we have. We haven't come up with a name for it yet, but it's going to be a half -hour show you can stream from Trent Radio's website or download. Or I guess listen to it on the air, if you live here and you kick it old school like that. The focus will be on trying to explain what this global recession looks like, and what's behind it, especially from here in Canada. I feel like I know US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner better than anyone in Parliament these days, so it'll be nice for me to learn a bit about what's going on up north. Any title suggestions are welcome - Canadian Bacon has already been brought up, as has Cheddah.

And besides that, my life has been eaten by classes and helping plan the Community Movements Conference here at Trent on Food Sovereignty and the Changing Face of Agriculture. It went great, and we took videos of most of the sessions so I'll try to get those linked once they're put online.

I think I'm starting to get the feel of this writing thing with a couple pieces I've written for Arthur this year. Two of my favourites to work on have been an article on the lack of prayer space on campus at Trent, which helped spark a nasty riot in our forums but also got some good dialogue started, and an article on how screwed cities in Ontario are as this recession starts to claw away at the commodity markets our recycling systems are dependent on. There's going to be a follow-up piece on it in next week's issue that you can catch online here.

What else? Well, I'm reading Raj Patel's stellar book Stuffed and Starved, about the grotesque architecture of the global food system, which I could safely say I hadn't even heard of until last year. I've been reading all of these blogs lately, and as usual soaking in the wondrous writing over at The Walrus. I've taken up jiu jitsu. I've been eating poorly lately. And I've learned an incredible amount over the past week about ecological sanitation, or the art and science of turning poo into soil into food again, and around and around and around.

If you really are desperate to have your mind broken learning about money, watch this video (thanks to Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying for the link). Take care.


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posted by Christopher at 3:09 a.m. | link | 3 comments

Monday, December 01, 2008

Officially on break

Hi guys,

I know it's been an absurdly long time since I've last written a post. I wish I had more time to devote to this thing - I have so much I want to say about the impending ascendency of a coalition government in Canada, about how incredible Obama's election was and what his presidency might hold in store down south, about the amazing books I read this year (oh, how I want to tell you about Cormac McCarthy and The Road before the movie comes out). All the wicked stuff I've been learnig in ecology. The death of Michael Crichton, another of my favourite childhood authors. But I've had to devote my time to other projects this year. Trent's student newspaper, Arthur. The International Development Studies department's conference this February on Food Sovereignty and the Changing Face of Agriculture (catchy, no?). Classes. Life. 

The abundant possibilities of human connection still compel me in so many directions. I just don't think I'll be able to explore them on here for a while. Same goes for The Subject Tonight, which I love making, but which I just don't have time to do interviews and editing for right now. I have a few stories in mind for an upcoming episode about Difference, and I'll be keeping them available to download for free for as long as my dwindling bank account can sustain it, don't worry.

It has been a great pleasure speaking with you all here, and I hope to get the opportunity to do so again before long.


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posted by Christopher at 10:27 p.m. | link | 2 comments

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Cowing to immense pressure from this blog, of course, Harper and Layton have relented and decided they would probably be sort of okay with going to the debate if Elizabeth May is there too as long as, you know, everybody knows they're not happy about it.

Victory! Further bulletins as warrant.

Sample future bulletin:

Casserole tonight! Saucy!

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posted by Christopher at 4:44 p.m. | link | 1 comments

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why should the Greens be kept out?

What a strange thing to be envious of Americans for the drama and excitement of the presidential race down there this fall. Whether people will be voting on the basis of ideas, aspirations and values or just on pure personality politics is up for debate, but at least there's something feisty going on in the US. Up here there's such a dearth of inspiring, visionary candidates for the election on October 14th that it's easy to forget there's an election going on at all (is four days in too soon to say that?).

And when did former PM Joe Clark become so interesting? He's had more than a few very thoughtful, incisive things to say in the past little while, not least this current piece he's written about the old boys' club of the Bloc, the NDP, and the Conservatives blocking Elizabeth May from the televised leaders' debates on October 1st and 2nd. He astutely points out in an editorial this week:
Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for the network consortium [that hosts the debates], is quoted as saying that three parties - those led by Stephen Harper, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe - all opposed the participation of Ms. May in the so-called leaders debate, "and it became clear that if the Green Party were included, there would be no leaders debates."

That's blackmail. If these three men want to boycott a genuine debate, let them have the courage to do so openly. Let them also explain why, in a year when U.S. party establishments could not shut out an Obama or a McCain, it is appropriate for the Canadian party establishments to muzzle a significant voice for change.
and more to the point, on the implications of this disservice to us as an electorate in making informed decisions about our federal government:
The tone of federal politics today is the worst I can remember in my 50 years in public life. Of course, there were angry partisan differences before, but they were tumultuous exceptions to a general rule of common public purpose, even civility. By contrast, the standard today has become consistently bitter and negative - personal invective routinely displaces any serious discussion of issues or differences.

This low standard helps corrode respect for the democratic institutions in which this mean drama plays out. It comes at a bad time, because there has been a general decline in the reputation of politicians, parties, legislatures and other institutions. Cynicism grows. Candidates are hard to attract. Citizens turn away from politics - especially young people, who see nothing to attract or inspire them. That constitutes a long-term threat to the authority of the pan-Canadian political institutions that have always been essential for citizens of this diverse democracy to act positively together.
I should mention that although I don't support any of the political parties in Canada, nor do I intend to ever be a member of one of them, I do endorse a lot of the ideas the Green Party has presented in their platform - a shift in overall tax collection to enforce a tax on carbon emissions (I'm willing to debate the desirability of this on a national level), emphasising preventing illness through what they call health promotion, protecting victims of discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. A lot of this sounds great to me, other things in their platform less so. 

But this is totally beside the point. We deserve to hear Elizabeth May debate the other federal leaders - and be rightly scrutinised in the same light as them. As has been pointed out many times in the past, the Bloc Québecois were allowed to debate in 1993 without a single MP, as was the Reform Party with only a single Member of Parliament, as the Greens have now. We are all owed the opportunity to make an informed decision based on articulation of all of these leaders' ideas, and on critical, incisive probing of them. TV, our great cultural junk food, is one of the most important venues for us to do this. Allow me to tuck this into the bullshit files.

Hat tip to daveberta on the Joe Clark piece. If you're not already, you should be reading Dave Cournoyer's blog for coverage of this election. Lord knows he'll update more in a day than I will this month.

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posted by Christopher at 2:57 p.m. | link | 1 comments

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Reason enough to watch the games? Tip of the hat to thesecretfee.

So, after having gone through all the trouble to reason out whether to watch the opening ceremonies for this year's Olympics or not, I slept through them, and woke up just in time to see the end of the athletes' march. And then I missed the repeats. Twice.

It just wasn't meant to be.

I blame it on the time difference... I'm back in Alberta visiting the fam for a few weeks, and got to fulfill my one aspiration in Calgary this summer: to watch the games with my grandpa in his authoritatively climate-controlled condo (he's way more serious about this than those officials in Beijing, I assure you) and eat cheese buns. My personal highlight, of course, has been the men's diving. Everything after this is just icing on the cake.

Hilariously, my grandpa actually bet that our-man-from-Laval Alexandre Despatie wouldn't even place because he did so poorly in the preliminaries. 'He got too fat,' he concluded. Well, Alex, I'll admit you've put on some muscle since you were *thirteen years old*, but I'd say you did pretty well for yourself. Thanks for a great show.

And it is all a show, of course... did anyone else read this headline? '77 applications, no protests at Beijing Games,' reports the always credible Xinhua news service from Beijing. Shockingly, they report that 74 of the applications to protest at the three Olympic venues pre-approved for demonstrations were 'withdrawn after amicable settlements between the parties and authorities.' Two others had some problem with their application, they say.

One, apparently, did not meet the proper criteria for government-sanctioned protest, for unexplained reasons. I wonder what they could be.

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posted by Christopher at 1:02 a.m. | link | 0 comments

Saturday, August 09, 2008

It has to be said... That's hot.

So my favourite thing in the news this week?

John McCain, trying his damndest to make Obama look unready for leadership, has put out an ad comparing the latter's fame to Paris Hilton's inexplicable celebrity status of her own. You'd expect the best response to come from the really rather eloquent, thoughtful Mr Obama. But you'd be wrong.

Perhaps the best thing Paris Hilton has ever done in her short, inexplicable life:

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posted by Christopher at 1:13 a.m. | link | 3 comments

Thursday, August 07, 2008

That Man

A different Emerson altogether, but the similarity in nose profile is striking, isn't it?

Does anyone else find it grossly embarassing a) that our new Foreign-Affairs-Minister-by-default-because-no-one-else-elected-was-available-
and-another-cabinet-appointment-might-make-for-bad-optics David Emerson is tripping all over himself this week to make sure Beijing is
absolutely clear that Harper means no offense whatsoever by not attending the opening ceremonies and b) that his man holds a cabinet position at all?

I've got to admit, the Conservatives here have a knack for timing. Who else could have had the balls to use the almost unbelievably stupid affair with Maxime Bernier and the misplaced NATO briefing to slip in Emerson as his replacement without eliciting more than a peep of outrage? Surely there are others among us who remember that this is the same David Emerson who unabashedly crossed the floor immediately after being elected for the Liberals in 2006 for a bright new career with the Conservatives?

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posted by Christopher at 2:11 p.m. | link | 0 comments
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