Yearly Archive: 2014

Merry Christmas

I’m reading for the umpteenth time my favourite piece of seasonal literature, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas, and thinking festive thoughts. Season’s Greetings and best wishes for 2105 to all those loyal souls who look in on my blog.

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Common Ground

With Justin Trudeau and the Liberals ahead of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives by as much as eight points in the final months before a general election, what manner of man is Justin Trudeau and what are his leadership skills? Some answers flow from a reading of his just-published book, Common Ground. First off, he is self-deprecating, no prima donna trying to ride on his father’s political coattails. Indeed, he says Pierre was poor at retail politics and did little to nurture the party’s grassroots. Justin says his political chops come more from his maternal grandfather, James Sinclair, a minister...

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Nature morte

The twenty-one works by Paul Cézanne on display in an exhibit entitled “The World is an Apple” are a coup for the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) which is celebrating its centenary. The still lifes by one of my favourite nineteenth-century French artists feature pears, ginger pots, flowers and skulls in addition to the aforementioned apples. Cézanne’s work is noted for the angles he uses. In one painting it appears as if he moved his easel several times to render the tableau with no regard for the wonky perspective that results.  Unlike Vincent Van Gogh who described his paintings in...

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A lifetime of friendship

I had lunch with my three oldest friends today. We all attended the University of Western Ontario 50 years ago. We’ve held this regular Christmas gathering at the Old Mill for a long time. As a first step we declared that matters of personal health – the organ recital I call it – were not open for discussion. Otherwise, you get into a lot of kvetching and complaining. We did, however, congratulate ourselves on surviving for another year. Among the four of us there is a lawyer, a dentist, an accountant and me, the writer. Topics ranged from Stephen Harper...

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Money up the flue

This past Monday was a windy day in Ontario, with westerly howls reaching 100 km/hr from Windsor through Toronto and beyond. Fallen trees and branches brought down power lines and crushed vehicles, highways were closed, a stained glass church window was damaged in Hamilton and a roof ripped off at a Burlington airport. A tornado was confirmed near Mildmay. While communities cleaned up after the path of destruction, the expense to citizens continues, according to former TD Bank President Robin Korthals, a graduate engineer with a Harvard MBA, who follows such matters closely. On Monday Ontario’s wind turbines generated record...

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A Renaissance man

Universities tend to attract donations for the STEM faculties – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – with the liberal arts often left behind. That’s not the case at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., where the humanities benefit, too. Yesterday L. R. (Red) Wilson gave $2.5 million to extend for another five years the L. R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History he launched five years ago with a similar $2.5 million gift. Wilson served as chancellor of McMaster and has also given a $10-million lead donation for a new building, now under construction, that will house the humanities, social sciences and his beloved...

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Fair for all

For twenty-five years Access Copyright has gathered payments from sources that use written or visual content produced by Canadian writers and artists and then distributes those monies to the writers and artists who created the original work. It isn’t a huge amount, but not insignificant. Last year my payment was $995 for material that I had produced, mainly in books, material on which I hold the copyright. This year the amount was $770, a drop of 23 per cent. Did certain of my material suddenly evaporate or did the copyright expire? No, some users of the material decided they’d no...

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A hit and two misses

Too busy writing until recently, I finally found some time to read. Two out of the three books I just finished were disappointing. The first is by Gord Pitts: Fire in the Belly: How Purdy Crawford Rescued Canada and Changed the Way We Do Business. Here was a case where I was a fan of both the writer and the subject yet came away empty. My first complaint is in some ways petty. Normally, subjects are referred to by their surnames. Pitts didn’t do that. Sometimes he called him “Purdy” which is a tad too friendly for me. Sometimes he called him...

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