• Image by Daniel Friesenecker from Pixabay

    Political & News Podcasts I’m Listening To

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    Some days, I like to be alone with my thoughts while I work. Some days, I want to know as much as possible of what’s going on in the world. Some days, I want to listen to someone read to me. Some days, it’s some combination of those three.

    The longer we practice public health measures for COVID, the more I find myself sliding into the second category: I need to know everything. I like to be well-informed, though there are times I feel like I might be taking it to an extreme, and there are certainly times I’ve found myself with inability to bite down on an opinion because of it.

    But, being informed means media consumption.

    Full disclosure: something most folks who read anything I write that isn’t fiction or who know me in real life know I wear my politics fairly openly. Those politics are typically left of centre, but I try to consume media from a variety of sources. In practice, that seems to mean that I can’t go too far right of centre to get opposing views before I step off the cliff into partisan propaganda, conspiracy theories, and cynical rage-bait. I don’t usually get more than a half dozen episodes before having to drop a conservative podcast because I can’t swallow the Kool Aid. If anyone has a recommendation to a conservative media source that’s just into factual reporting, I’d appreciate it.

    All of that is a big lead in to say there’s probably nothing that most people would consider conservative in the list that follows, but there are two podcasts where at least one member of the podcast team professes to be conservative, so there’s that.

    A lot of this is Canadian, which makes sense, because I am, too. And I’ve taken more of an interest in Ontario Provincial politics in the last couple of years, too. As well as wanting that better view of what’s going on in Ontario, I’m trying to get a feel for regional views across the country as well and have found a couple of podcasts from the Prairies, the West Coast, and Québec I like, but I’m still lacking Maritime and Northern coverage. I’d take suggestions there, too, if anyone has any. I have considered some of the CBC morning shows, but morning shows tend to be a weird combination of stuff, a lot of which might give me a regional flavour but not a lot of real information content in the vein I’m looking for.

    It’s a sizable list, so don’t look for a lot of detail on each one. And this is the politics and current events list. I listen to a lot of other stuff, too.

    The current list, in alphabetical order:

    • #onpoli – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. Ontario Provincial politics.
    • 49th Parahell – Monthly – Bias = Left. “Where we explore the hellish nightmare world of modern reality together.” From a Canadian perspective.
    • Canadaland – Several Per Week – Bias = Left-Centre. Less bound by the niceties of network reporting, critical independent journalism.
    • Canadian Politics is Boring – Weekly – Bias = Centre. Less current and more pointing out some weird stuff in Canadian history to disprove the podcast’s name.
    • At Issue (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. The Thursday night political panel from The National.
    • Common Sense – Not very often – Bias = Centre. Part opinion, part modern historian. I wish he would produce episodes on a regular basis.
    • Commons – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Takes a theme for each “season”. “Radicals” interrupted by “Pandemic”. You know, like everything else.
    • CPAC: Today in Politics – Daily – Bias = Centre. Early in the day, big stories in the process of breaking or changing.
    • Power Play (CTV) – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. Podcast version of the CTV daily politics show.
    • Question Period (CTV) – Weekly – Bias = Centre. Podcast version of the CTV weekly politics show.
    • Follow-Up (Huff Post) – Infrequently – Bias = Left. I think this is on COVID hiatus. No episodes since early March and they were sporadic before that. Host interviews political “insiders” and high profile government officials and MPs.
    • Frontburner (CBC) – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Depth on one particular story/topic each day.
    • BBC World Service Newshour – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. The daily BBC Global roundup.
    • Party Lines (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Weekly roundup, usually on a specific subject or story group.
    • Political Stripes with Bob Rae – Weekly-ish – Bias = Left-Centre. Former Premier and MP interviews people who might otherwise not be in some depth on current topics.
    • Politicoast – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. BC politics. Well, and Canada and a bit of international.
    • Power & Politics (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Considering the show is still on, it’s a little irritating that the podcast is on hiatus. How hard would it be to just package the audio track?
    • Sandy & Nora talk politics – Weekly – Bias = Left. The hosts live in Toronto and Québec City, so you get an interesting blend of views.
    • Sprawlcast – Monthly – Bias = Left-Centre. Based in Calgary.
    • The Agenda – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Ontario politics and current events journalism.
    • The Big Story – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Politics, news, current events, culture.
    • The Boys in Short Pants – Biweekly-ish – Bias = Centre. One of the hosts claims to be conservative. I’m unsure of the other. Lots of fun procedural and technical stuff mixed in here.
    • The Bridge – Weekdays – Bias = Left-Centre. Peter Mansbridge providing his signature context and commentary on current events.
    • The House (CBC) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. Weekly CBC radio politics show.
    • The NPR Politics Podcast – Weekdays – Bias = Centre. Daily NPR politics roundup.
    • The Progress Report – Variable – Bias = Left-Centre. Progress Alberta’s weekly podcast.
    • The Secret Life of Canada – has “seasons” – Bias = Left-Centre. More history than current events, though those creep in. A lot of stuff we should know.
    • The Skepticrat – Weekly – Bias = Left. US politics from a skeptical (and angry) point of view.
    • The West Block (Global) – Weekly – Bias = Left-Centre. I’d actually say closer to Centre. Rounding out political podcasts from the top tier of Canada’s TV/Radio networks.

    I can hear some voice out there. “Seriously? You listen to all of this, and other stuff too?” Yup. The trick is to not confine yourself to normal speed. Most podcast players will let you adjust upwards, and the trick is to do it a bit at a time, get used to the new speed, and then push again. Depending on audio quality (and sometimes accents), most of what I’m listening to, I’m listening at 2.0 to 2.5x recorded speed. Probably why I feel like the real world moves too slowly sometimes. Also drives my wife crazy so I can only listen with headphones or when I’m by myself.

    The other trick is I’m able to listen while I’m doing other things – chores, household projects, yard work. Not a luxury I normally have except during my commute. When my industry goes back to work, the list will probably get much smaller. But for now, I can overdose on current events whenever I like.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Conventions,  Life,  News

    Top 10 Ad Astra 2013 Moments

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherMy daughters and I went to the Ad Astra SF convention in Toronto (technically Markham, but it’s attached) last weekend and we had an awesome time. A busy weekend filled with geeky goodness. We spent most of the weekend in costume (all of it in the case of my oldest daughter while the younger daughter and I took half of Sunday off), so I didn’t get a lot of pictures. Hoping that someone is going to post some, but frequent Google searches haven’t come up with much yet. Hint, hint. (A handful of pics in a slideshow here, including one of us with my head cut off, and a video recap here, which we do appear in briefly.)

    But with any experience, there are bits that stand out and I thought I’d share a few of those in brief.

    1. Stepping onto the stage with my daughters at the Masquerade so they (okay, we, but I stood in the back even though they made me go first) could show off their costumes to the waiting crowd.
    2. Heather Dale holding us in the room after the Masquerade to start the concert with a beautiful, vocal only version of “Mordred’s Lullaby”, standing up out of the audience to root us all to the spot and letting me know I’m maybe not quite as done with the Arthurian mythos as I’d thought I was.
    3. Talking my daughters into a posing session for a group of artists in our Steampunk cosplay, letting ourselves (and not fooling myself at all, mostly them because they’re far cuter than I am) be drawn in a variety of poses.
    4. After the posing session, having the artist GOH, Scott Caber who has far more major credits than they could list in the program, pull us aside to finish his sketches of my girls, sign them, and give them to us.
    5. Discovering two new anime series with my youngest then sharing them with her older sister. For reference, Ore Shura and Kotoura-san, and I recommend them both to any anime fan. The latter, in fact, is going to “appear” in the first episode of the Cyborg Bunnies Review.
    6. Meeting up again with two friends I made at World Fantasy last year, and being so absolutely and completely happy to do so and that I’d met them in the first place.
    7. Being privileged that both of those friends (who are both authors) allowed us to interview them for the podcast that we haven’t quite launched yet (but it’s close!).
    8. The poke in the brain Tanya gave me (not that she knew it at the time) to get back to my Japanese lessons. I’ve misplaced the bulk of what I have learned and need to fix that.
    9. My oldest daughter winning what she had to compete for at the Art Auction.

    10. Realizing that both of my girls actually wanted to hang out with me for the entire weekend.

    Okay yes, that’s really more than ten moments, but feel free to make your own list. There were a lot more besides, in panels, at the Pacific Mall, in the dealer’s room and just hanging out in the halls. Ad Astra 2013 was a great time, and I think we’ve decided we’re going back next year. It was a lot of fun and everyone who can should come join us.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • News,  Writing

    March Writing Update

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    So the targets I set for March were aggressive considering a family vacation and what I met and missed is a bit scattered. I didn’t really contend with the level of exhaustion when I got back from vacation and didn’t predict a small hardware failure (and fried flash drive) resulting in the loss of several days work (yes, I’ve been lazy about backups lately) or taking a week off after that hardware failure. Or the amount of time the girls and I have spent prepping for Ad Astra next weekend.

    All of which is okay. Especially the last one. That’s better than okay, it’s awesome.

    But to focus on writing, the original targets for March:

    • Dreams of Freedom = 5,000 words
    • Short Fiction = 5,000 words
    • Ancient Runes = finish 2nd draft (there are only 4 chapters left of 35)
    • Warforge: Caledonia 2nd Draft = 4,000 new words and 20k editing
    • Blog = 3,565 words
    • Overall goal of 18,815 new words.

    The actual achievements:

    • Dreams of Freedom: 1,100 words. Far short, especially considering the flash drive failure, but it depresses me having to redraft things. I’m over it now, but it took a few days (or maybe a week).
    • Short Fiction: 896 words, “Klaatu Barada Nikto, Baby!” got a little longer and, at this moment, sits at 10,407 words. Same note as for Dreams of Freedom.
    • Ancient Runes 2nd Draft is complete, though a quick skim shows me several things I’d like to go back and layer in.
    • Warforge: Caledonia 2nd Draft, I did finish the transitional scene applicable to where I am in the story right now, but lost a fair bit of editing progress. I worked through 3,898 words of revised scenes. Twice.
    • Blog = 2,368 words, including this post. All of that is in the last couple of days for things that haven’t posted yet. I actually managed to go through March without posting a single entry to either blog. Depressing, but April will already be better.
    • Draugur Rising: 9,134 words. Wait, what the heck is this? Well, it’s a novel that I started while on vacation. I’d planned to work on “Klaatu Barada Nikto, Baby!” by hand in Cuba, maybe getting it finished between lying on the beach and plane rides, but instead decided I’d start on something new, picking up an idea that had been bouncing around in my head for a year or so and letting it loose. It’s taken on a life of its own.
    • Overall = 15,601, which isn’t horrible even if it misses what I planned and most of the fiction wasn’t on projects I’d planned.

    And I’m still not caught up on book reviews, but I did get one done.

    I’ve put Small Realities on hold for the moment while I work some things out in my head.

    Submissions: 0, which makes me ask what the hell is wrong with me? Oh yeah, I took half the month off.

    Revised goals for April:

    • Dreams of Freedom: 5,000 words, and I mean it this time.
    • “Klaatu Barada Nikto, Baby!” has 3-4k left, I think. It would be nice to finish it this month.
    • Warforge: Caledonia 2nd Draft: 20,000 words of editing progress which, looking at the scenes ahead, includes one new scene probably about 2,000 words long.
    • Blogging: targeted at 3,450 words.
    • Draugur Rising: I don’t know. I’m trying an experiment with this one, dictating for part of my commute each day then doing a quick touch up to fix what the software didn’t make sense of. I have 21 work days this month and wonder if 500 words on each of those is reasonable. Let’s go with 10k for April.

    Cyborg Bunnies is proceeding. We may conduct some interviews at Ad Astra if we can find some willing victims participants.

    Be well, everyone, and stay tuned.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • News,  Writing

    February Writing Update

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherFebruary Writing Update

    Covering the month of February, 2013, here’s an update of my writing progress for the month with maybe a couple of sentences at the end on where I am for the year.

    Total Words of New Fiction: 16,586

    Of which 5,880 were in Dreams of Freedom. Yes, I set a low bench mark of 5,000 this month, but that was to focus on other things while still making a progress on the first draft.

    Another 4,918 went into new material for the first of the Warforge: Caledonia short novels, finishing off one transitional scene, all of a second, and starting a third. There are three more add in scenes after this one, at various points in the story, but I’m going to write them as I work my way through the second draft process.

    The remaining 5,788 words made up the rest of “Closing Time” (which turned out to be a novelette and not a short story) and getting back into “Klaatu Barada Nikto, Baby!” I keep leaving this story and coming back to it with the same ending in mind but with no idea how to get from where I am to where I want to be. That may have changed, but it’s going to take another three or four thousand words.

    On the editing side of things:

    Second draft of Ancient Runes is 90.5% complete, which is a little more than double what I’d originally set as the goal for this month. Here and there I neglected a little bit of first draft on something in order to squeeze in an extra scene or chapter of problem fixing. Really liking how the story is shaping up and I hope to have this draft complete before our tropical vacation (planned, booked, covered by a house sitter, and partially paid for) at the end of the first week of March.

    The slow 2nd draft of Warforge: Caledonia is going to pick up a little speed. It already has, to a certain degree: I blew by the modest 5,750 word edit/new scene goal for this month by more than 1,500 words, but once I’m back from the previously mentioned vacation, I’m going to dive into it, letting Ancient Runes rest for three or four months while I do the whole second draft on this set.

    As far as blogging goes, I’m coming in at 4,743 words next to a modest goal of 3,220 for the month. A good chunk of that is across several posts written in the last couple of days of the month, including this one.

    While book reviews aren’t on the official list of writing goals, I’d sort of promised myself I’d write at least a short one for each of the books I read this year, putting it up on Good Reads to demonstrate that I’d actually read each book as part of meeting my reading goal. Way behind.

    Cover art for Small Realities may be a reality. Still need to teach myself some formatting.

    Still no submissions out this year, but several rejections back and two short list notifications that I’m hopeful for. I need to smarten up.

    Final total, counting everything but editing as new words, is 22,904 for February, next to an overall goal of 17,970. A very good month, really, since by my measurements I also met every individual writing goal.

    But for the year to date, I’m still not quite where I wanted to be because of the too-high goals I originally set for January. But that’s okay, too. As I promised myself at the end of last year, all of the goals are moving targets and what the year looks like at the end might be very different than the beginning.

    In that spirit, here are the revised goals for March:

    • Dreams of Freedom = 5,000 words
    • Short Fiction = 5,000 words
    • Ancient Runes = finish 2nd draft (there are only 4 chapters left of 35)
    • Warforge: Caledonia 2nd Draft = 5,000 new words and 19k editing
    • Blog = 3,565 words

    You’ll note March is fairly light, totalling barely more than February at 18,815 words. It actually should probably be lighter than February as I’m going to be somewhere tropical for a week. I still hope to do some manual scribbling on the plane and in brief moments lying by the pool, probably to the tune of 250 words per day if I’m lucky. Again, stretching the goals is a good thing.

    Oh, and if you’re interested in Cyborg Bunnies, test recording is done, as is an introductory episode that will never see the light of day, we’ve done nearly all of the Admin stuff to set things up, and there’s a rough cut of the first real episode. With luck, it will be edited and we’ll record at least one more before leaving on vacation.

    Be well, everyone, and stay tuned.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

  • Announcement,  News,  Writing

    World Fantasy Convention 2012, Rough Plans

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherSo World Fantasy Convention, the Toronto 2012 edition, starts on Thursday (ack, the day after tomorrow!), and as I’ve expressed several times, I’m both excited and nervous.

    When someone (that’s you, Wendy) talked me off the fence last year, I was nearly at the mental low point of the “my life is far more difficult than I think it needs to be”, and not too far off of when I started shutting off sources of stress and distraction (which ended up being most of the world) to focus my attention on kids and family. I looked at it from a writing career perspective: potential contacts and networking with some awesome panels thrown in.

    My writing career, publicly speaking, isn’t really any different than it was a year ago. I haven’t submitted that many stories this year, though I’m working to change that right now, and didn’t send out any last year. But I’m feeling much better about myself and my life these days and I’m making plans for indie publishing and podcasting in a big way. I’m writing every day again, recording some fiction for release into the wild, and plotting out a three year plan for independent publishing of novels and short fiction collections.

    But I’m not going to WFC with any networking agenda in mind. People and panels. This is going to be a social/informational convention for me. I’m going for the fun, and I think that’s the way I should have been thinking about it all the way along. I’m going to meet a few people I know only on Twitter and hopefully a bunch of other people, too. I’m going to sit in, and probably record, a whole bunch of panels. I’m going to experience some new food and new places. My hotel is, deliberately, about a 15 minute walk from the convention. It’s a bigger, more comfortable room, and I need to stretch my legs a little since I probably won’t manage anything remotely like the exercise routine I’ve gradually built for myself.

    Oh, and panels. There are 21 I want to go to, but surprisingly only 5 conflicts, leaving me with a few tough choices and possibly16 attended. Maybe 16 attended. You see, there are also readings I’d really like to go to, plus the Autograph Reception, the Art show, the Dealer’s room, and a late night open flash fiction reading. It’s going to be a crowded weekend.

    But believe it or not, I am a little shy in completely new situations, which this is, being my first literary convention. Someone pull me off the wall, please. I’m pretty friendly after that initial barrier is tossed aside.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather