Blog

Check out my weekly posts (166 and counting) about communications, information, motivation, writing, branding, creativity, media, marketing, persuasion, messages, learning, etc. 

Did Ikea Kill the Catalogue?

Did Ikea Kill the Catalogue?

It’s one of the most widely-distributed publications in the world. At its peak, it printed 200 million copies in 32 languages, and hit 50 markets. You’ve likely flipped through its pages, and may well have one in your home right now. What is it? The Guinness World...

Why Swearing is Good for You

Why Swearing is Good for You

Back in August, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park in Friskney, England received five African grey parrots. They joined another 200. Within weeks, the new quintet had to be separated. Why? They started to swear routinely, which encouraged the other parrots to mimic them....

Hail to the Thief

Hail to the Thief

After elections, a concession speech is customary but not mandatory. With clear results, the winner takes office and the defeated candidate departs the stage. Whether the loser accepts reality is irrelevant for the purposes of a formal transfer. While they have no...

Why Do People Believe Conspiracy Theories?

Why Do People Believe Conspiracy Theories?

The stories that some people tell themselves can rival any tale spun by the greatest novelist. This summer, as COVID-19 spread, a survey of almost 2,300 Canadian adults by Vox Pop Labs found that: Almost 1 in 10 believe (a great deal or somewhat) that Bill Gates is...

Mining for a New Name

Mining for a New Name

In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t a great idea to name your town after a fibre that’s highly toxic, illegal in more than 60 countries, and a cancer-causing agent. Such is the fate of Asbestos, Quebec, which is now going through an identity crisis. The municipality,...

Spoiler Alert – Nobody Cares About Your Baby’s Gender

Spoiler Alert – Nobody Cares About Your Baby’s Gender

This summer has seen senseless destruction, on an idiotic scale. I’m talking about gender reveal parties. These gatherings started several years back with parents-to-be cutting cakes to expose either a pink or blue colour inside. Then came the extravaganzas. Last...

Horseless Carriages and Online Learning

Horseless Carriages and Online Learning

As school boards scramble to figure out the education model in COVID times, I got to thinking about online learning. Not about the merits of the concept, or the quality of the results, but the expression itself. It’s one of those that takes a common term – in this...

The Curious Case of Dr. Doctor, Dean Dean and Judge Judge

The Curious Case of Dr. Doctor, Dean Dean and Judge Judge

Sprinter Usain Bolt just announced the name of his baby girl: Olympia Lightning Bolt. If Bolt is an appropriate last name for the world’s fastest man, then Lightning (not to mention the Olympics connotation of Olympia) ups the stakes. “The thing I worry about with my...

Don’t Get Stuck on Band-Aids

Don’t Get Stuck on Band-Aids

Bearing witness. That’s what happens at protests. It’s the original meaning of the word. Protest comes via the Latin protestari, from pro (forth, publicly) and testari (assert). Think of the root testis (witness), which also gives us testify and testament. People on...

Buried Under a Pile of Numbers

Buried Under a Pile of Numbers

Andrew Lang, a Scottish poet and novelist, once said that politicians use statistics in the same way that a drunk uses lamp posts – for support rather than illumination. No disrespect intended to politicians. Or drinkers for that matter. Politicians aren’t the only...