It’s *NOT* Junk Mail

I recognize that we all like to apply labels to categorize things, as shorthand in communication and in conversation, and to identify common views and beliefs. I do it myself; we all do: labels are our everyday metaphors. They are fast and easy shortcuts. But I weary at times of trying to explain to people that the unsolicited material they get in their mailboxes several times … (more–>)

Manners? Civility? What happened to them?

I was sitting in my car on main street, recently, waiting for a break in the traffic so I could back out and drive on. My backup lights were lit, my turn signal flashing, so drivers knew I was trying to exit. The parking downtown is nose-first, angled to the sidewalk, so you need to back into the oncoming traffic lane to leave. All I needed … (more–>)

Shakespeare’s Mirror

Grant that, and then is death a benefit. So are we Caesar’s friends, that have abridged His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop, And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood Up to the elbows and besmear our swords. Then walk we forth, even to the marketplace, And, waving our red weapons o’er our heads, Let’s all cry “Peace, freedom, and liberty!” Shakespeare: Julius … (more–>)

The Penguin Classics Book

Did you know there is a card game played in Japan at the New Year, called uta-garuta, where 100 cards have a full poem on each — traditionally taken from their classical poets — and another 100 have just the final line. Players take turn reading the poem from the deck, while the others race to find its concluding line from the cards with the final … (more–>)

The Hermeneutics of Suspicion

The title is a phrase I encountered while reading Mark Thompson’s excellent book on political rhetoric, Enough Said: What’s Wrong With the Language of Politics? Thompson’s book is both about the current and historic use of political rhetoric (from Aristotle forward), but also about the role of journalists in covering it. Thompson — a former new editor and executive in the BBC and now with the … (more–>)

Lessons from History

It is common practice to look back and conflate the events of the past with those of the present, seeking parallels, resonance, and answers from previous events that help explain today’s. We learn from others, from their experiences, and we like to find commonalities in our shared experiences, even from our or other’s historic past. We see ourselves reflected in our past and we sometimes mistake … (more–>)

Shopping carts, masks, and morality

The shopping cart theory — or rather the S.C. hypothesis, since it really isn’t a theory in the proper scientific sense — is a test of our humanity, or so the notion goes: The shopping cart is ultimate litmus test for whether a person is capable of self-governing. But it’s more than that: it’s a test of civility, social conscience, morality, community, and ultimately our level … (more–>)

Why Science Fiction Matters

In the past two years, we’ve watched all the Star Trek series (on Netflix) from start to finish, and all the ST movies (on DVD). We just started watching the Battlestar Galactica series on Blu-Ray this past week (which we had seen some years back, but with long gaps between seasons). Both of us love scifi. Although the first ST series was often more space opera … (more–>)

Dandelions and civilization

Whenever I see a lawn with dandelions, I think, “This is the home of civilized people. This is the home of people who care about the environment and their community. This is where bees are welcome.” When I see a monoculture lawn, bereft of weeds or dandelions, I think, “Here is the home of an anti-social family; a place where life is restricted, wildlife discouraged; where … (more–>)

The Long Read part 2

In my previous post I wrote about reading during the lockdown, particularly delving into some longer reads like War and Peace. This time gives us ample opportunity to tackle books that may have daunted us before. And, as I previously wrote, some of these are my ‘books-to-read-upon-retirement’ titles. Well, I recently finished War and Peace and still think it’s worth tackling, although I also believe Tolstoy … (more–>)

Big G and Me

One of my fondest childhood memories is sitting between my parents on a warm summer night, on the front seat of the family car, watching a movie through the windshield, above the dashboard. A single, metal-wrapped speaker hung from the glass of the half-opened window on the driver’s side. A box of salty popcorn passed between us, soft drinks too. Around us were dozens of other … (more–>)

The Sounds of Winter

To the tune of Sounds of Silence, with apologies to Paul Simon… Hello, winter, my old friend I have a bone to pick, again Because a snowplow softly creeping Passed my house while I was sleeping My driveway’s blocked and I’m shovelling again My back’s in pain I curse these days of winter. Every day we play this game. Digging out then filled again. The snow … (more–>)

I’m Reading as Fast as I Can

I don’t recall just when I started putting books aside to read, or perhaps just finish, when I retired. I had this naive, romantic idea that upon retirement, at the age of 65 or thereabouts, I would be able to spend my time puttering around the house and garden, carting a bag of books from place to place, to living out my final years in the … (more–>)

Decades, centuries and millennia

January 1 is NOT the start of a new decade. To the CBC and the other arithmetically-challenged media who insist otherwise: it isn’t. You just don’t understand how to count to 10. No matter how you spin it, 9 years is not 10. And even if it was, starting or ending a decade or any other period of time has no magical significance. Neither history nor … (more–>)

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