Monthly Archives: December 2010

Few signs of progress

At the dawn of a new decade, with the 21st century and third millennium well under way, I scan the horizon for signs of progress toward the bright future we were promised of plenty, leisure, compassion, perpetual peace, keen appliances and the siblinghood of all mankind. Unfortunately, what I see before me is a label on a water jug telling me it contains no fat or dietary fibre.

In the spirit of my late grandfather’s maxim that “It was better under Clovis” I reflect sourly that, during the Dark Ages, people didn’t need any label on their water other than “water” because they knew what the stuff was. Now you may retort that, in Clovis’s day the water was pretty dangerous. Which I concede, while noting that people back then knew that sort of thing too and didn’t need a label. It’s also why they drank beer for breakfast so they might not have been able to read the label by lunchtime even if they made it that far. And could read, you may be tempted to add. Continue reading

Christmas is Christmas

Well, it’s time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas … and damn the torpedoes, I’m tempted to add — if it ain’t out of keeping with the situation.

I realize this point has been made before (including by me on Dec. 20, 2002, if you’re keeping score). But there is an important place for repetition in life now including not only putting up a Christmas tree but adding a sign saying “This is a Christmas tree.” We also need to insist that those greetings you only get in December are Christmas cards (or, sometimes, Hannukah ones) given that those that emanated from the Governor General, the prime minister and the leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition at this festive season depicted … a different season. One without snow. (See the following pages.) Continue reading

Thanks for the advice, Carney

Not much takes the edge off my festive mood faster than the government sternly warning us not to be reckless with money. Yeah, you go first, buddy.

In the spirit of fairness, I should note two key things about Monday’s warning from Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney that we’re in hock up to our eyeballs. First, “the government” is a hydra with many quite dissimilar heads that do not always act in concert, and the Bank of Canada is not among the more conspicuously profligate of these hissing tentacles. Continue reading

A strategy against strategies

Apparently what this country needs right now is a new national strategy for immunization. At least that’s the view of “public health leaders” quoted in Monday’s Globe and Mail. I personally think we need to be immunized against national strategies, if I could just figure out how.

I’m not against vaccination. But what has the federal government to do with it? There’s a surprisingly common reflex in Canadian public debate to suggest bureaucratic centralization as the solution to various problems that don’t seem remotely likely to respond well to it. Continue reading

Could ‘Europe’ cease to exist? Let’s hope so

If there were a WikiLeaks dump regarding the European Union’s fiscal, monetary and existential crisis I wonder if it would be full of things like: Whoa, Nelly, we’re in the soup! Who thought of this fake currency with fake historic scenes anyway? Does anyone remember Bismarck dismissing “Europe” as merely a geographical expression?

Or would there be no recognition at all that anything fundamental was wrong? Continue reading