Thoughts about thinkers

Thinkers. I don’t know what to say about thinkers except that they don’t sound much like do-ers. Four of the recipients on the global Thinkers50 Awards are Canadian, with Roger Martin ranked third and Don Tapscott fourth. Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, has been on the Research In Motion/BlackBerry board of directors for six years during which time the company nearly imploded. I understand that Martin led discussions on strategy at board retreats held at Langdon Hall, a Relais et Chateaux destination close to Waterloo. I guess no one listened. I’ve never met Sydney Finkelstein, a Canadian...

Read More ....

Long time gone

It’s been six years since the Dixie Chicks were on the road. They are just finishing a three-month tour of the U.S. followed by three weeks in Canada. Lead singer Natalie Maines came armed with some Canadian material that I’m sure she used all across the country. She said she’d seen a story on Huffington Post describing Canadians as among the happiest people in the world. After getting depressed thinking about this fact for some time, Natalie then realized, “It’s so cold here, you don’t feel any pain.” By the time of last night’s show, where my daughter and I saw...

Read More ....

Lest we forget

John Kenneth Macalister was born in Guelph in 1914 and attended Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute where he won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford and the Institute of Corporate Law in Paris. When the Second World War broke out he tried to enlist but his eyesight was too weak so he joined the Special Operations Executive, a British intelligence agency. Macalister and another Canadian, Frank Pickersgill, parachuted into France in 1943 to help organize the resistance movement but were captured almost immediately by the Gestapo. The two were treated as spies, imprisoned and tortured, and in 1944 were sent...

Read More ....

All dolled up

First it was candles and wrapping paper, then coffee and crumpets, now it’s to be dolls and accessories at Indigo. As a grandfather, I welcome the arrival of American Girl in Canada. My shopping will be handier. But as an author, I shudder at the thought of more floor space being stolen from books and given over to toys. Bad enough that Indigo has two-thirds of the book market in Canada, putting many independents out of business, now they’re getting out of the book business themselves, a few square feet at a time. Initially, American Girl will be in two...

Read More ....

Always something there to remind me

A lot of people – myself included – have been blathering on about today’s loose morals because in recent weeks Miley Cyrus has appeared naked in a video and Robin Thicke performs in another video with naked women. It took an exhibit at Musée D’Orsay to remind me that nakedness for the sake of art is nothing new. Entitled Masculine/Masculine, the exhibit in Paris of male nudes in art includes everything from a naked Eminem by American artist David LaChapelle through Picasso all the way back to life drawings by Delaunay from the nineteenth century. Promotional posters on the Metro show...

Read More ....

Newsmakers anonymous

There’s only one way to describe the Ontario Press Council ruling on The Globe and Mail story about drugs and Doug Ford: lily-livered. The piece, which sprawled over two pages in May, quoted ten unnamed sources on the topic of whether Councillor Ford did or did not deal in drugs during a misspent youth. Readers complained, as well they might, about such overuse of anonymous sources. One anonymous source in a long investigative story is plenty, two is too many, ten is ludicrous. Readers have a right to know who’s talking. The media has a responsibility to name the people...

Read More ....

The Vision thing

If you missed tonight’s launch of The Zoomer: Television for Boomers With Zip, Conrad Black’s new TV show, consider yourself lucky. It was awful. The premiere on Vision TV was a one-hour mish-mash that included a large panel, two documentaries, a splenetic monologue, a musical interlude, an interview and an applauding studio audience. It was as if the producer kept saying, “Maybe if we add just one more thing ….” One of the panelists, aging rocker Ronnie Hawkins, told how he was cured of cancer over the phone. The cure was a miracle, said Black, “You’re half-way to sainthood,” which was...

Read More ....

Black and BlueBerry Part 2

BlackBerry’s corporate problems were well documented in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail. The themes identified certainly jibe with what I’ve been hearing from Waterloo in recent months. The only problem the writers missed – and it’s a major cause of the corporate calamity – is the antagonism that grew between former co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. The rift began in 2006 when Research In Motion paid US$612.5 million to patent troll NTP Inc. Everybody blamed anybody else. The schism between the two men gathered speed when the stock options back-dating issue was settled with the Ontario Securities Commission in 2007...

Read More ....