Rick McGinnis

No simple solutions to social media challenges

No simple solutions to social media challenges

Amusements Ten years ago, when I started writing this column, nobody was really frightened of the internet. My first column for The Interim was about the fear of communications technology, opting out and cutting the cable  – but the villain was television. “Every year it seems like a new study is published linking TV viewing with obesity, poor marks, diminishing attention spans or aggression,” I wrote, “with particular condemnation reserved for parents who ... (Continue reading)

The decline of manufacturing

The decline of manufacturing

It’s been almost a year since General Motors announced that it would be closing its Oshawa, Ontario automobile assembly plant, ending over a century of car manufacturing in the city and putting nearly 3,000 employees and management out of work. This spring, however, the company announced that it would reinvest $170 million dollars in the plant, converting it to stamping and sub-assembly and building a test track for autonomous ... (Continue reading)

Chernobyl exposes insanity, brutality of Soviet regime

Chernobyl exposes insanity, brutality of Soviet regime

HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl arrived for streaming at a crucial moment for the company, just as the hangover from the end of Game of Throneswas starting to ebb. They needed a hit, and they got it with a five-hour story about the 1986 explosion at a nuclear power plant in the Soviet Ukraine. “Chernobyl is a thorough historical analysis,” wrote Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic, “a gruesome disaster epic replete with oozing blisters ... (Continue reading)

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Game of Thrones’ disturbing ending

Game of Thrones’ disturbing ending

After eight seasons, 73 episodes, 47 primetime Emmy awards, and a massive audience that guarantees it a place in pop culture history, Game of Thronesended last month with a half dozen episodes that left fans distraught, angry, or both. Before the final episode aired, an online petition from fans demanding that the eighth and last season be rebooted and rewritten gained a million signatures. The show runners, David Benioff and ... (Continue reading)

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Rebuilding a church

Rebuilding a church

I want to tell you a story about a church catching fire. Over 20 years ago, a parish church in the Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale caught fire and burned down. Holy Family had stood for over ninety years, but by the time the fire was put out nothing was left but the walls. This might have been the end of the story of this church, but the Fathers of ... (Continue reading)

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The media frenzy and the rush to judgement

The media frenzy and the rush to judgement

Media attacked Covington teens at March for Life, bishops and schools piled on There’s an old saying that life is like high school. I have no idea who originally said it, though American musician Frank Zappa is reputed to have elaborated on the idea by saying that “Life is like high school with money.” There was a time, very recently, when real life and high school were once considered very different things – the latter a waiting ... (Continue reading)

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Reflecting on a celebrity’s suicide

Reflecting on a celebrity’s suicide

Anthony Bourdain I’m not normally emotionally affected by the deaths of celebrities, but the sudden death of celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain last June resonated with me unaccountably. I don’t want to sound cold, but I think it’s difficult to feel real grief for anyone we don’t know personally. Very simply, there’s more than enough grief and heartbreak waiting for us with the death of family and friends, ... (Continue reading)

Crisis at St. Mike’s should force schooling rethink

Crisis at St. Mike’s should force schooling rethink

I have been a lifelong fan of the Beach Boys, but I’ve never been able to understand their 1963 hit single, “Be True To Your School.” That probably says more about me than the Beach Boys, but I think it has a lot to do with my high school, which has been in the news quite a bit lately as I write this column. “Be True To Your School” is ... (Continue reading)

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Didion’s uncomfortable fit in American counterculture

Didion’s uncomfortable fit in American counterculture

Joan Didion I was reading The White Album, Joan Didion’s 1979 collection of essays when I came across a passage describing student unrest at San Francisco State University in 1968. Didion admits that she had missed the really big student protests earlier at Berkeley and Columbia, and that while she was expecting much of the same at SFSU, she was disappointed. “The place simply never seemed serious,” she recalls in ... (Continue reading)

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The importance of the culture wars

The importance of the culture wars

It’s easy to believe that society is falling apart, especially if you spend any time on social media. My liberal friends are certain that the earth is on the verge of an imminent ecological disaster – probably climate change, but they’ll take resource depletion or overpopulation in a pinch. My conservative friends fill their Facebook feeds with stories and memes about the threat of unchecked, invasive immigration, or warnings ... (Continue reading)

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Killing the Kennedy mystique

Killing the Kennedy mystique

There’s a visual shorthand you see in movies and on TV shows that’s meant to let you know you’re in the presence of Roman Catholics, and probably Irish ones. It’s a picture of John F. Kennedy hanging on the wall of someone’s bedroom, dining room or living room, or in some bar, barber shop or police chief’s office. It might be accompanied by a portrait of whatever Pope is ... (Continue reading)

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Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and thinking about the future

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and thinking about the future

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film widely regarded as one of the best and most important in the history of cinema. I’m not here to dispute this judgment – I’m a big fan of the film, and have been since my brother-in-law took me to see a road show screening during its 10th anniversary. ... (Continue reading)

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The prophetic Tom Wolfe

The prophetic Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe (Photo Rick McGinnis) Reading the obituaries for writer Tom Wolfe, who died last month, it’s hard not to think of the overused word “enigmatic,” which seems odd for a man who was neither reclusive nor reticent with his opinions. Wolfe flamboyantly embodied a collection of contradictions that only seem unusual now that his sort of public intellectual seems to be passing from existence. In a ... (Continue reading)

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The cultural impact of the suburbs

The cultural impact of the suburbs

Maybe it’s some remnant of our tribal past, but it’s hard for us to leave behind some impulse to fear and vilify whoever lives one village over, beyond the river or in the next valley. We might think we’re sophisticated, cosmopolitan people, but this nascent tribalism is never far from the surface, and I saw it re-emerge with a roar during recent municipal elections here in Toronto. ... (Continue reading)

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The Gospel of Jordan Peterson

The Gospel of Jordan Peterson

My first glimpse of Jordan Peterson was almost a decade ago, when he appeared on TVO’s current affairs show The Agenda with Steve Paikin alongside my friend, the writer Kathy Shaidle. She was on the show arrayed against a dismal group of evangelical atheists, including then-United Church minster Gretta Vosper – the God-botherer against the God-deniers, a hard hour of media labour that might have made turning down a ... (Continue reading)

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