Every year on December 6, we think about the 14 young, bright, motivated women who were murdered in their classrooms for pursuing their academic and professional passions. My old friend Anna Humphrey wrote these poems forever ago, and every year, even though we’ve all aged and grown and had related hopes either bolstered or broken, these poems just get right to the heart of everything.

Read all: 14, As More Than Just a Number

The whole suite of poems is amazing and heart-wrenching and insightful, but I’ve chosen one of my favourites to reproduce here.

For Nathalie Croteau, 23
When he spat:
like a dirty taste
from his mouth
you were the only one who said ‘no’
You said, “We aren’t.
Not the kind who protest
in the streets.”
Probably your last words
Probably not quite true
Not the kind who protest in the streets
But in the classroom.
The kind who would challenge,
the kind who would speak up;
try to save thirteen women
and herself
when everyone else
had lost their words.
Brave Nathalie
in coffin #8.

Helpful music for a bad month

The US election just… shocked me. Until the very hour the needle swung so far, it just hadn’t seemed possible, and now a lot of really terrible things no longer seem impossible. I’ve been feeling paralyzed by worry for friends, worry for strangers, worry for the world.

I want to do helpful things, but I’m far from local action, I’m not a US citizen, I am paranoid about even putting my name to dumb petitions because my job requires me to cross the border frequently, and I’m tied up financially waiting for certain unrelated life things to be resolved so I know where I stand. I am trying to figure this out.

In this period of inaction, I’ve been wrestling between the desire to keep looking at what’s happening – because we all need to look hard at what’s coming and keep actively supporting the right sides – and the nausea, rooted in my own often-deep pessimism, that makes me want to turn away until I know concretely what I can do.

It’s not a fun feeling, I’m not super proud of it, but in the meantime I’ve been trying to soothe the ragged emotional edges somehow. Even temporary drinking was out of the question, because this felt so deep I needed to keep my strength. Running has helped, and drumming too, but I’m back to square one when I stop. I’ve been experimenting with music to see if I feel better getting close to bad feelings, or better when I distract myself thinking about good things. Loud? Angry? Morose? Optimistic? Upbeat distraction ended up feeling cheap and blank, so I tried chasing the bad feelings here and there, but that proved unsustainable. For example:

Way too on the nose.

Too hard on my heart.

Sublime isn’t doing it.

Too… close to it.

Excellent fit, emotionally, but not an improvement.

Then, randomly, I got a pile of records from a swap at The Brain this weekend and was running through them one by one when the exact right song came on. I can’t even say what the magic ingredient is, but it’s the first thing to make me dance in two weeks. Thanks, Buddy Holly.






If you have a song or a thing that’s helping you keep a grip on things while we all adjust and regroup, share it in a comment so we can all enjoy?

Also okay, p.s. maybe you should also listen to Titus Andronicus’ “Richard II” after all. It’s just the right kind of yelling right now.

Dear Wix.

If I were being charitable, I’d say, “The app’s editor is based on the WordPress mobile app’s editor.” If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team. Wix has always borrowed liberally from WordPress — including their company name, which used to be Wixpress Ltd. — but this blatant rip-off and code theft is beyond anything I’ve seen before from a competitor.

Read Matt’s letter to Wix here. Big love to open source and the people that prize and protect it.


Music news! I am so pleased to have music news to share this early in my Hamilton time. I was super fortunate to get hooked up with Secretary City, an ex-Toronto band that was in the process of coming back together after a distance-spanning and child-rearing hiatus of a few years. Our first show was a very exclusive backyard birthday party, our second is next Saturday, October 15th with Rae Spoon at Oswalds Gallery in Hamilton. (FB event)

First Hamilton show, backyard birthday party. Sunglasses excuse!

A photo posted by Denise Williams (@lettergrade) on

Mr. Walker, It’s All Over

New favourite, Billie Jo Spears.

“I have no desire to be a pop artist,” she said. “I couldn’t go pop with a mouthful of firecrackers.”