Run, Mark. Run.

Run, Mark. Run.
Mayoral selfie at the London marathon finish line on the weekend, shamelessly lifted from his Twitter account.

Those who know me well are aware that I never half-ass anything. So when I decide to do the unexpected and come to the defence of a mayor whose performance I am at best quite tepid about, it only makes sense that I should bump into his predecessor at breakfast, another mayor whose performance I was at best tepid about.

Jim Watson is doing great, thanks for asking. We chatted a bit at John’s (best brekkie this side of the Peace Tower) and he did say those trade missions do actually accomplish good things. Which I’m sure they do. Accomplish things, I mean. Some that are good, even. People agree or disagree on whether said good things are worth the cost of said trade mission and that’s fine. I don’t even care to have that argument right now. I just want us to stop demanding politicians do nothing but work all the time. Because that’s completely unhealthy if not toxic. And at a time when municipal politicians quit rather often due to the nasty pressures put on them, maybe we oughtn’t.

One reader on Twitter did say public servants are no longer allowed to combine work travel with vacation time and added that standard should apply to the mayor, which is a decent enough argument. And if that’s what people want, it should be the rule. But at the moment that standard does not apply to the mayor which means there’s really nothing wrong with him squeezing a lil’ marathon in between a bunch of meetings promoting tourism in Ottawa.

black and white robot toy on red wooden table
Photo by Andrea De Santis / Unsplash

Over at the day job (I wear several hats) we sometimes use generative AI to get quick first drafts of things. It can be an excellent time-saver, especially when you’re having trouble deciding on the structure of your written thing. Of course, we always validate the information the robots spit out before letting it out into the world. More often than not we have to rewrite large chunks of AI prose, too, because let me tell you, ChatGPT sure is flowery — I shit you not, it makes LinkedIn posts look concise. Way too many adverbs.

What I didn’t know, however, was that AI sometimes makes stuff up when asked to write something about a real person. After churning out biographical information that couldn’t be validated the tool was asked to provide its sources and only then did it confess to having written “hypothetical facts.”

I guess my job is still safe for a bit. Also: Always validate AI-generated facts.

Having said that, AI can be incredibly useful to help us disseminate our real, genuine, human-quality writing. I wrote a piece about that for the Association des auteures et auteurs de l’Ontario français, which I hope you’ll like.

Have yourselves a lovely weekend.