Monthly Archive: December 2015

The distant speaking of the voices

Every December when I read or listen to A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas – “All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea …” I am reminded of the first time. The technology, of course was different. Now I can listen on my iPad, but then I was in Grade Twelve at John F. Ross C.V.I. in Guelph. My English teacher, Isobel Cowie, had lugged in from her home what passed in those days for a portable record player. With it she brought a vinyl recording of the reading by Thomas that she played for the class. The performance ran for about...

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A most generous heart

It’s wonderful that Seymour Schulich is getting the kind of recognition his philanthropy deserves. In recent days, half-page newspaper ads have trumpeted his gift, in partnership with Daniel Woolf, principal of Queen’s University, of 400 rare books to Queen’s. A batch of full-page ads have commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Schulich School of Business at York University. Schulich, who made his money investing in gold, turns 76 next month and is busily giving away much of what he made. His total givings to date are probably in the $400-million range. I can’t think of anyone else in Canada who...

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The Globe is flat

The folks at the Globe and Mail held the topping-off ceremony yesterday at their new 17-storey building on King Street East. As they prepare to move in next year I plead with them to take a close look at what their newspaper has become. Here’s what’s on page one of today’s Weekend paper: no actual stories, just blurbs and photos. Above the fold, the part meant to appeal to readers at a newsstand, the carefully curated offering includes a pointer to a crossword puzzle, the announcement of a celebrity chef columnist, top moments in the year’s culture and lessons learned from Somalian...

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The book club

I can’t read e-books; my attention wanders. I’m OK reading one on my iPad on an airplane, where the only other choice is a safety pamphlet, but on the ground I need paper and binding and a bookmark. I tried in digital format Robert Caro’s latest installation in the life of Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power, and finally gave up. I couldn’t stomach always seeing variations of the line at the bottom: “You are on page 133 of 1,878.” I bought the hard cover with “only” 700 pages. I highly recommend it in whatever format you prefer. I also enjoyed Margaret...

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The road not taken

Of all the overindulged groups in all the world, Ontario teachers must surely be the most mollycoddled. First, there was the news that expenses for negotiators were paid for by the other side; now their bloated pensions are being buttressed by full credit for time off during an illegal strike. And what to say about the Ontario government toll-gating political contributions from the teachers? Taxpayer money is being recycled like it was rotten food meant for the green bin. Teachers hardly even do their jobs anymore. They refuse to reply to emails from principals received after 3:15 p.m. They don’t even respond to...

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