Wednesday, October 31, 2007


In many ways I think I have a deaf/blind ear/eye to good design. SillyWife will pronounce things as ugly or not, and I can come around to understanding this, but it is never instinctive for me.

On the other hand, this Paul Rand tribute amazes me; he got so much so brilliantly right. I had no idea that half my wardrobe is decorated with his ideas. I especially like the IBM Rebus design, which has provided a lot of pleasure to people around me.

My attempts to watch this video have so far been painful, but I think one should try. The breadth of this guy's contributions to creating viable logoes (sorry, Naomi) is amazing. A true artist(e)!

Being a Colin Ainsworth Fan

My recent review of the latest Opera Atelier production was lacking in the usual praise for Colin Ainsworth's performance. The basic reason is that he was not in the show! (Last year when I noticed that tenors generally had secondary roles in this year's productions, I came to suspect this is what would happen.)

Earlier this evening I was cruising through the searches that brought people to this blog and noticed that I was pretty high on searches for the string "Colin Ainsworth".

I was not the top - this is the top, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

Follow that man's path! He is a fine singer and performer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Farewell to Alex

GrrlScientist finds all the best stuff of this sort.

Alex the parrot died a while ago and she links to a nice news report on his skills.

The comments to the post are quite interesting.

If Ever I Would Leave You

Well, he has left us, and I will miss him.

Perhaps Robert Goulet became a parody of himself but the article includes a line I quite like:
"You have to have humour, and be able to laugh at yourself," Goulet said." One of the lines in Man of La Mancha, spoken of the Duke in the play by Cervantes/ Don Quixote, is, ‘He carries his self-importance as if afraid of breaking it’ -- amuses me immensely. No one should take himself that seriously.'"

He is also, in many subtle ways, one of those artists who have a history that shows how delightfully entwined US and Canadian culture are (here in Canada the worthy all wring their hands over the US influence on our culture, but I don't see the same hand-wringing in the US over our inordinate influence on theirs).

Goulet's Lancelot will always be the Lancelot I recall from 'Camelot'.

He clearly had a great sense of humour:

Goulet returned to the stage for the first time in nearly a decade in 2005 to take a role in La Cage Aux Folles, bringing down the house by kissing his co-star, Gary Beach, in the Tony-winning production in New York.

"I'm not used to kissing men, so the first time, I nearly broke Gary’s nose. Then I hit his chin. I'm getting better," he said of that appearance.

Farewell, Robert Goulet.

Some days are diamonds

And today was.

Having a day like this on October 30 in this geography (roughly 44 degrees North latitude, 79 degrees West longitude) makes me wonder whether I want to stop anthropogenic global warming.

The Book of Don

A new blog in the Canadian firmament is well worth reading - Don Young counterpoints his experiences as a CBC employee roughly 25 years ago with his current life as an independent producer. As an Albertan working in Toronto, he can bring an interesting outsider's viewpoint to the institution.

Some of the old experiences are wonderfully revealing. He has Stuart McLean pinpointed perfectly in this post. (I write as someone who listens to The Vinyl Cafe almost every week.)

And if you want a reason to start following his blog he teases wonderfully in this post.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Where we have Arrived

George Jonas has a nice witty column in response to the question of what one single thing he would like to change about Canada. He warms up slowly, and then focuses on our insane statism and instinct to regulate (everything).

For me, regarding much of this as originally having come to a peak in the Trudeau days, I love this line:

Thirty years after prime minister Trudeau declared that the state had no business in the bedrooms of the nation, we must tell the state about our love lives to register a hunting rifle.

Agreeing with me about the head of state as well, he describes some of this silliness of the last thirty years:

Being unfair to women ought to have been easy to remedy: we could have started being fair to them. Instead, we tried fixing the problem by being unfair to men. Enchanted with 'equality,' we decided to treat vice and virtue equally, at least in the case of spouses, and brought in no-fault divorce.

We embraced reverse discrimination as self-righteously as we once embraced discrimination. The best thing I can say for the result is that it improved the looks of our governors-general, if not necessarily their reading skills.

The saddest truth is in this passage:

In the old days we had no Charter. Now we do. What we no longer have is rights and freedoms.

Today we have commissions of social engineering, called 'human rights commissions.' They're to guard us against human rights, such as free speech. Or imprudent speech, like saying Merry Christmas in mixed company.

And I agree with him from close personal experience about what a great job we have done with our medical system:

Once you needed money to see a doctor. Today you don't. What you need is time. Patience. Pull. Or enough money to go to the United States.

The saddest fact is that in a bureaucratically determined system like ours pull creates far greater inequality than money ever has in a price system.

Do not fail to read the first part, pointing out that there were many things wrong with the Canada he arrived in, from a much worse place. And do not fail to read the end, about whether he wants to roll it all back.

A Proud Brother

Andrew Coyne, rightly, lets it show. Congratulations to Susan and the whole production!

Opera Atelier's The Return of Ulysses

Opera Atelier is putting on "Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria" and we saw one of the shows yesterday.

Compared to past performances we have seen (a search on this blog will produce many enthusiastic reviews), this was far more serious and dramatic, and in some ways perhaps the least entertaining for us in a few years of faithfully seeing all their productions. Part of this is that we have become trained to the light humour in the productions, and this story is not wide open for that - we are heading, after all, for major slaughter, even if it does lead to the reunion of separated spouses.

But, as SillyWife pointed out, this company is great at finding hunky guys to play its roles. Olivier Laquerre, absolutely the best Papageno I have ever seen, in a performance last year, here does a wonderful job as Ulisse, trying to figure out what is happening to him, and then following the orders of Minerve, played by Carla Huhtahen, who was his superb Papagena in that other production.

And they find new guys! Cory Knight was a great Telemaco, both acting and singing playing a key role.

Curtis Sullivan was a suitor as a West Side Story gang leader and fine at it, as in his other roles in the performance.

SillyMe, mind you, is mindful of the female roles. Jennie Such as Melanto was all charm, and Stefanie Novacek conveyed confusion beautifully as Penelope.

I hate ballet, and I always like the dancing sequences in Opera Atelier shows. Why? I do not know.

Laurence Wiliford as Eumete also stood out for me.

So the opera itself lacked the usual humour, but this company cannot make everything all serious.

Marshall Pynkoski came out on stage before the show to deliver a speech (and I trembled in fear,recalling the last time he did this, making all sorts of bad analogies about world history), but this was good, all really about Bluma Appel, someone who has contributed enormously to the pleasures in my life living in Toronto.

And at the end, what wit! For the post-show applause they staged a little on-stage ballet, wonderfully exposing what bad dancers some of the performers are, and also engaging the conductor of the Toronto Consort (also not a dancer).

The spirit of this triggered what I would guess was a five to ten minute ovation, with large parts of the audience standing.

I often think this must be one of the most idiosyncratic companies in the world. It performs Baroque opera in period performances, well, in a mix between the creativity of the artistic leads, and what they understand of period performance. But it works - it works so well.

They seduced me finally several years ago with a Marriage of Figaro that just felt perfectly right, and since then I have seen every one of their productions; and I hope I can go to my grave seeing all the rest.

But more idiosyncratically, they are drawing mildly mass audiences in Toronto, at ticket prices that are well above the normal for opera here. What is going on? How do they do it?

I don't care at the moment. They are just a great part of what makes the city so liveable.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Scott Beauchamp and The New Republic

I've been following this for a long time.

One outcome I never expected was ending up sympathy for Beauchamp. But that is where I am, thanks to yet another excellent and intelligent post from Michael Yon. (Contribute to his efforts!)

As for the New Republic, well they are up there in credibility with CBS News after the faked documents Dan Rather tried to sell us.

More Squirrel Aggressiveness!

Apologies for the long absence.

This article gives me some ideas for experiments on my insistent peanut consumers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Family Feud

My sister and I expressed some disagreements as we drove home from watching Soulpepper's Three Sisters last week. I appreciate her comments - we really are of different generations and different sexes, and both those differences play a role.

So she posted on the play yesterday and I have a couple of points I do not agree about!

It is a credit to Chekhov's writing that one finds oneself getting hugely irritated with the characters, and wanting to go up on stage and smack them silly ... It makes it rather difficult to enjoy the play.

Not for me. If anything, I think I know people like this in their fecklessness, and it does not make it difficult for me to watch them develop. But in fact, Chekhov is trickier, one of the sisters just gets smarter and smarter despite herself, and she does not even see herself doing it. This is the wonderful deep wit of Chekhov, who lived in so many worlds. He knew all these people well.

There was also a scene at the end where Megan Follows attempts physical humour, and fails. It just didn't fit with the rest of the play, where she had been dour and forlorn and sleeping or whining, pretty much.

No - in the scene where they come home to wait for the mummers she looks as delighted as one can look in a dalliance, which is pretty delighted. It is the dalliance she is losing as Vershinin leaves, and her only experience of infatuation in her short life. Seemed just right to me and fit my image of Chekhov exactly.

It seems to me that either the entire play has to be a sitcom, or none of it does.


And speaking of Follows -- man, did she ever look old and bedraggled. She's only a bit younger than me. She looked positively middle-aged...which I guess we both are.

She looked just dandy to me. I'd have felt almost as proud to be out with her as I did with you and Karen.

Things I Love about the CBC

One if them is Don Newman (I actually had a star-struck moment when I nearly walked into him as he was leaving and I was entering Nicholas Hoare books on Front Street in Toronto.)

Today he is visibly sparkling watching the various opposition parties trying to respond to Stephen Harper's Speech from the Throne, delivered by our babelicious G-G.

It is amusing having a very intelligent Prime Minister again.

Greg Mankiw Closes Comments

I, getting maybe two comments a week, decided to moderate comments at one point. I understand why Greg, with his volumes, has no option but to close them.

He describes it perfectly.

The growth in the comments section was fine with me, as long as the discussion remained civil. Mostly it was, and I learned a lot from the comments. But unfortunately, a few (usually anonymous) commenters too often crossed the line.

I just don't have the time to police comments and enforce good behavior, especially since some posts were generating more than 100 comments. And I don't want to host a party in which a small vitriolic minority consistently tries to ruin the event for everyone else. So I decided to turn the comments feature off.

With my low volume I do have the time to police, and so I do.

But what I found hilarious is that the worst offenders, confronted with the new moderation policy. howled about free speech, as if I had an obligation to provide a forum for what I considered to be their rather useless commentary. (And anyone who reads this blog knows you can disagree with me and be heard!)

As Glenn Reynolds puts it so well, and as I told them,

Let 'em get their own blogs.

I even gave one of them detailed instructions on what to do. Still no blog.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paul Martin got one thing right

I have been critical of Paul Martin, but he is the man who created the situation whereby Canada has the most beautiful head of state of all the countries of the world.

To be honest, this makes me a little proud. Even if it is silly.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Doris Lessing

To my astonishment, Rondi, vastly better read than I, asserts no direct knowledge of the writing of Doris Lessing.

Now I can say I actually did read Doris Lessing long ago - I read her Martha Quest novels, and they were 1970s feminism, and this is not so bad; it is how I discovered that maybe the woman's view of having sex is not totally pleasing to the male ego. In fact she was much more brutal.

For this alone I am pleased she won the prize this year.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Such a nice Linkage over the Generations

Just go look! Oh, I mean read.

Grrlscientist's Turtles

She has an ultimately lovely collection of photographs, and those turtles are definitely getting their yoga in, here, here, here, and here.

A Week with one Fine Observance

Che Guevara was finally exterminated 40 years ago this week (I think the cockroach analogy is appropriate, though it may be unfair to cockroaches).

Those who still romanticize about that murderous thug, who created widespread poverty and chaos and murder wherever he had the chance, you have no excuse now that the Internet is in place. Once you had an excuse.

World-Class? How Many Marathons?

There is constant hand-wringing in Toronto over whether or not we are a world-class city (my answer is No - liveable yes, but puny still in so many dimensions).

One symptom of our problem is sorting out the branding.

If you are looking to go spend a lot of money on going somewhere and running a marathon which of these two would you choose, separated by all of two weeks?

I'd like you to pick the first, so you might come running not too far from my home.

Or you could go to the multiplicity of Boston Marathons, New York City Marathons, London Marathons, and Chicago Marathons. Those pathetic little cities hold only one major one anyone knows about.

Read it all, but definitely read the last paragraph!

Amen is all I can say. Here it is.

Hat tip, no wait, that makes no sense, the hat tip is to the author!


Via Alex Ross, in one of my favourite blogs (my only music blog so far), I suggest this twelve-tone primer for all of us pseudo-intellectuals who know we need to know about this at cocktail parties, but lack the time to get into it too deeply.

Go see it here!

A confession: I think the high point was Haydn, and a fair bit of Mozart. Beethoven was annoyingly modern. This Schoenberg stuff still sounds to me like my cats walking on the keyboard.

More Pia Haraldsen

Allahpundit comments on the longer clip, which had me laughing much harder than the previous ones; I particularly like the picture of Barack Obama, and the "Has it spread to Iraq?"

Go watch it at Hot Air.

Help name the Viennese Panda Baby

Go vote at this site - the choices are:

  • Hua Shan - one of the sacred mountains of China
  • Mei Yue - "Beautiful Music" (quite Viennese)
  • Zhu Wa - Bamboo boy (the Zhu also means Pig and this is the year of the Pig)
  • Fu Long - Fortunate Dragon

For more about what's his name you can go to the Panda Diary in English here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Very Deep Question

Brad DeLong is being slightly funny, but I think this is a deep question about the impact of Google.

(And I love his parenthetical '(At least "Ha!" in Firefox)'.)

He also asks

I wonder if I can require students in 101b next semester to bring laptops to class?

Hmm. Maybe not this year, but ....

More Pia Haraldsen

I am experiencing a bit of a Pialaunch or Pialanche, with many visits coming to the site from a search with just her name. See this previous post, all of which comes from the link to my sister's blog in that post. Well, actually, to see Oddo, you should follow the link to Rondi's site.

Now Allahpundit has posted James Oddo's side of it, and I have to confess, he is dead right in everything he says. I expect he will be more suspicious henceforth of Norwegians!

Go listen to his description of the story. He produces a nice cut - "she wasn't witty enough to think them up on her own".

Pia Haraldsen has made me aware of James Oddo and I rather now like him!

Thanks, Pia.

Shakespeare in 1599 - Sidebar Cleanup

I should have removed this book from my sidebar long ago, as I actually read it very quickly - James Shapiro's A Year in the Life of Shakespeare - 1599.

And what a year! He moved his theatre to the south side of the Thames, he wrote (let me see if I can recall), Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet. Shapiro describes the texture of the world in which Shakespeare worked - his competition, labour problems (casting changes forced on him), as well as the political world outside the theatre, that informs these plays. This was the year that the Earl of Essex led the disastrous invasion of Ireland, and this informs much of the politics of the year, and they really are significant, as the outcome is yet another significant challenge to the throne.

I found this book, picked up in a whim at the airport, one of the most enjoyable and compelling reads of the year. It is about to disappear from the sidebar but I recommend you order it form the link in this post!

Radiohead vs. Jane Siberry

A search brought a visitor to this post of mine, made long ago when Jane Siberry began making her music available for download from her site at a price the downloader was willing to pay.

So why all the fuss about Radiohead copy-catting her? I guess maybe they are more famous, but to be honest the only fans of the group I ever encountered were in Oxford, England, which would be like finding Jane Siberry fans in Guelph, Ontario. And the first Jane Siberry fan I heard from was in Ithaca, NY.

I'm just saying I do not get it. I don't plan to download music from either of them.


Teach me Stuff!

Matthew Kahn's fine Environmental and Urban Economics blog is one I have long found very interesting and educational.

Today he made a post, entirely off-topic of the blog, that I, as an ex-academic still somewhat close to that world, found rather interesting. I have been on both sides of the teaching relationship and can only say I have watched the puritanism that denies a pretty fundamentally erotic nature to that relationship spread its influence in creating all sorts of love-denying codes.

One of my favourite movie scenes is in Louis Malle's wonderful Atlantic City, a scene in which Susan Sarandon's character says to Burt Lancaster's "Teach me stuff" (or the like, though I think those were the words). She delivers it exactly so you can see the total mix of longings in the request. And it has to do with all aspects of the teacher/student relationship in general, not just that she wants to become a better gambler.

I now work in private industry and our management have to work very hard to deal with the enormous networks of conflicts of interest that arise from the relationships among the various employees (as is mentioned in the article quoted in the post). Particularly in high-tech, many collegial relationships in the workplace are full of teacher-student aspects. To me this seems a far more intelligent approach than blanket prohibitions hiding behind pseudo-moral justifications.

That post above is worth reading. The issues are delicate, but they surely deserve a delicate response, not a sledgehammer. And I bet the sledgehammers merely cause more deception.


There have sure been more ridiculous Nobel Peace Prizes

Some have been flatly idiotic. Arafat getting one is a prime example.

This one seems just a little forced. Seems to me it is a stretch to suggest that mitigation of the effects of global warming is a peace initiative. But that is a call for the Scandinavians, who do not seem easily embarrassed by many of their choices.

As for me, I am really happy for Gore the individual; he has rebounded from his disappointments in a political career, to find a new one as a semi-competent polemicist, maybe actually a really good one. I shut his movie off once it made its first fatuously false argument (as I did with another much-praised 'documentary', this one Canadian, 'The Corporation'). But false arguments can be good tools and they have worked well for Gore.

I do lean to believing that we do need to respond to quite serious concerns that human behaviour is generating climate changes that may have some bad effects (and possibly some good ones - not all change is bad - in fact I would have thought leftists would not have knee-jerk reactions against change, but they do actually seem to).

Gore has done nothing to move me in the direction of believing this - in fact he makes me want to be a contrarian. Meanwhile, the IPCC has done good work, though I cannot see what it has to do with Peace.

One amusing theme every year - the media prattle on about who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, the collection of people able to submit nominations for the Peace Prize is roughly in Canada like those able once to serve as guarantors for your passport application. So surely eBay could create a market for those interested in being nominated? Or has it? (I do not plan to check.)


Family Day - Unintended Consequences?

Our newly elected Ontario government has announced that its first priority is to execute its first campaign promise, to establish a provincial holiday in February (historically a grueling month here, but conceivably less so in the future with climate change). When the promise was announced I recall laughing at the cynicism, and unfortunately the campaign as it played out became so silly that this was barely recalled as the election approached.

But count on McGuinty (our once and future Premier) to ooze his special brand of oil making promises to families about how great this new move is.

How great is the move for me (or anyone who works for my company)? Not very good.

My employer, a multinational, for reasons having to do with standardization across a variety of domains, has given its employees all the local holidays plus three 'floaters', extra holidays whose actual date changes from year to year but are often designed to make all the summer holiday weekends four-day weekends. A four-day weekend I have always valued more highly than a third better than a three-day weekend. And it is far more useful in the summer, when one can do something, than in February, where, as far as I am concerned, one might as well simply work.

What will our management do, now forced to give us a holiday in February? My guess is we will be down to two floaters (that would be my call were I in higher management). Personally I think this is a simple overall loss. In my view, this wonderful campaign promise gives me something I did not even want, and I will be losing something I really liked and getting something I never wanted at all. Thanks, provincial Liberals.

Well, I did not vote for them, but this makes me even less likely to contemplate it in the future. (OK - I confess, they did not have much chance anyway - such managerialist interfering clowns that they are.)

I got an e-mail form Sarah Miles!

No wait - it says "Sara", not "Sarah". Rats, that is disappointing.

Worse, it cannot be the right woman - she says

My name is Sara. i am 25 and live in the USA. I am looking to meet some new friends and maybe my Soulmate (if i can find him) was sondering if you might like to chat.

Well, 25 I am not interested in, nor "sondering", whatever it might be.

But the real Sarah Miles (the mother in the wonderful "Hope and Glory", and now in her sixties), well that might be another matter. Dream on!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Situational Hitting"

OK - I loved watching Cleveland beat the Yankees and I loved the amazing performance of Cleveland hitters with two out.

But heavens to Betsy - the pre-game broadcasters are calling this "situational hitting"!

I would accept this description if the Cleveland manager had told the team to hit better with two out than with fewer out. That would be "situational hitting".

But if I were the team owner, I would fire that manager.

Much of this is the sort of nonsense wonderfully lampooned in Nassim Taleb's "Fooled by Randomness".

Basically, is foolishness pretending to be wisdom.


Technology Leadership

Almost twenty years ago, visiting my in-laws in Austria for the first time, I found myself having my wife explain to me the concept of "Nachtstrom", whereby the household was set up to draw electricity from the local utility at night, and run the water heater when electricity rates were low. This seemed very sensible to me.

And now, only today, I have an electricity meter attached to my house that would allow such rational pricing, distinguishing between peak and off-peak usage (this is key for electricity, especially as we want to move to unreliable sources like wind and sunlight). The meter replacement was done with much fanfare. Surely, much of the grief we have today regarding energy comes from our profligacy and lack of concern with pricing of the resource.

Of course the sad thing is there is still no new pricing structure. We are still being supplied at what I remain convinced are subsidized rates, which surely will have to change.

Doc and Phil have some excellent remarks on this related to water usage, not electricity, but the principles remain the same. I have, by the way, had my water use metered for several years, and it does make me careful.

In the end, though, my lesson from this is that those other folks have a lot to teach us. And on different issues it is different other folks.


Suspension of Disbelief - second viewing of Three Sisters

I went back to Soulpepper's "Three Sisters" last night (so it is 3 times "Our Town", two times "Top Girls", and now this) with two much younger women as company.

As we walked up to the lobby at intermission, a woman behind us, referring to the casting of Olga, said something like, "Sure this is edgy, but I really don't like it".

Now I am pushing 60, so I do not really know what "edgy" means, and she clearly meant it as a dismissal, but when the play opened the first night I saw it with d'abi.young.anitafrika delivering Olga's speech about their father's death, I struggled for a few seconds, but she very quickly had me in her hands. It was not so unlike her opening "Threepenny Opera" as well, as she did in their production this year, where she was playing a man! But it was unlike that, in a large way.

I did not think this was anything I would call edgy; it makes no sense to me even contemplating casting a play in Toronto these days and matching the colour of the actors to the roles. After all, nobody in the cast was a Russian! I am not sure what the discomfort is. This had better become routine for us or artistic directors will have a very difficult time building seasons.

I figure, I take my seat, I know these actors are actors, and I try as much as I can to forget that; it is part of their job to help me forget it! And wow, is the excellent local talent great at doing this for me.

Now another point - the younger women I was with both seemed to think Megan Follows looked somewhat aged. As I said, I am pushing 60, and I did not get that at all. But it got me thinking in a way, again about suspension of disbelief. Chekhov starts the play with Olga at 28 (credibly), Irina at 20 (barely credibly), and Masha at 24 (which was fine for me, but clearly troubling to my companions). (Of course Masha has been mis-married to the very nice Kulygin for six years, so maybe that could age her.)

So it's a bit like watching John Hughes' movies where 30-year-old actors play high school students. I always loved those.

My guess is that a performance of the play with the actors actually the ages of the characters might not be so satisfying - the three roles are very tough, and part of what makes the play so moving is knowing how life goes, which they have to learn as it goes (though they are particularly feckless). On the other hand, I do have some Chekhov history that might suggest that young actors might do quite well..

But it got me thinking about the magic of theatre. Rob Diamond can become Vreshinin. Anne of Green Gables can grow up into Masha. The context is crucial and one must in the audience create that lovely and enjoyable context.


Ashbridge's Bay - theyyyy'rrrrre baccckkkkk

My morning jog yesterday at the waterfront was brutally interrupted by the fate of one of my favourite trees, situated at a key turn on the route.

I recall being charmed by evidence of beavers there a few years ago, including seeing one a couple of times. But this depredation on one of my favourite trees has shaken me up - and, yes, that is crime scene tape, suitably; in fact, as the picture above was taken, the city parks team had their wood chipper ready nearby.

Over the last couple of days I have chatted with several of the dog walkers who are veterans on my running and walking trail.

One of them told me of a friend who made the mistake of being in the water too close to a beaver down there, and required 17 stitches.

All the dog owners reported of knowing friends whose dogs made the mistake of frolicking in the water (something dogs down there love!) only to be attacked and bitten by beavers.

After I noticed what had happened to that tree, I noted several other trees recently handled (or toothed? - see below), and I noticed that the local beaver lodge, inactive for a few seasons, was being rebuilt.

Little devils!


Now This IS a Resource - Pia Haraldsen

First my sister finds some poor soul in the US named Oddo overwhelmed by the cruel Norwegian wit (that may be an overstatement) of Pia Haraldsen. Go check it out on her blog.

Next, Allahpundit points to her interview with some poor German guy in some way responsible for Knut, the Polar Bear in a German zoo rejected by its mother and brought up by a human keeper - this was controversial, as many 'experts' suggested that Knut simply be killed. I was in Austria when Knut was officially weaned from his human keeper, and neither was taking it well. I do not know where things stand now, but the sensitivity of the German is far greater than that of Oddo. (It is hilarious watching him break into German from his terrible English - "That is crazy, now I am angry, we are breaking this off,...!!" She pitches the opposite of the change-up, as he expects a softball, and she tosses him not so much a fastball as a pitch he just does not get.)

The sad thing about her career is that the string will likely run out as more people hear about her.

As my sister said, the humour is somewhat Norwegian, and I understand it, but I also understand that it really is not that funny. Though way deep down, there is a sort of point in the Knut interview.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Standout Childhood Memories

I was 8 and a bit, and the achievement attracted my interest in science and technology.

My guess is that Chris Mooney is far too young to recall how seriously amazing it was just to hear the beep-beep being sent back to Earth from Sputnik.

The outcome of course was much vanity and arrogance and at the same time some side benefits. Khruschev was showing off and what a beautiful world he created as a result! And of course, he also seeded the demise of the fatuity of Communism. So thank you Sputnik!!


Yes a silly country

What can I Say?

Naomi Klein

A couple of weekends ago, I was treated to an interview on the CBC With Naomi Klein, discussing her latest book, which seems to blame Milton Friedman for a whole pile of stuff. She has a great charm, and this was only radio - TV helps her even more, but she is not a coherent speaker - vague and disconnected is how it seemed to me and this was with an interviewer who was simply throwing softballs at her.

I've read several reviews since then of the book (I can think of no reason to read the book myself - I am struggling with Samuel Bowles' Microeconomics, which it seems to me might have value), and by far the best is the summary is from Tyler Cowen, who confesses to liking her book!


Moral relativism/equivalence

Jonathan Kay does nice job of pointing back to an appalling piece of Canadian media work driven by the undoubtedly well-meaning but pretty stupid Avi Lewis (in fact more stupid than his wife).

And, of course, Kay has found a new one. I can only say I am glad I no longer receive The Globe and Mail at my home, so was unaware of this particular bit of silly Salutinity (though they do abound).

My real problem with these old and new lefties is that they still think the enemies of their enemies are their friends. I hope one day they sort this out and realize how vulnerable this makes them to their enemies, who may be also enemies of their enemies.

Worry Wart? Not Me, it seems

From the fabulous grrlscientist again, who clearly worries more.

Your Worry Factor is 12%

You hardly ever worry. In fact, you often feel like you don't have a care in the world.
It's not that your life is magically easy. You just don't dwell on worse case scenarios.
You figure that you'll be able to handle whatever life throws at you.
No use worrying about what could go wrong, especially when so much is going right!
Do You Worry Too Much?


Monday, October 01, 2007


After my theatre experiences I thought it would be fun to look at how the theatre company promotes itself, especially with blurbs, so let us begin, these taken to start with from Soulpepper's site regarding Mary Stuart.
"A tense and thrilling production... tremendous energy, pace and point" – National Post
Sillywife and I would not entirely agree. It did have some level of energy and a slow pace. As for a point?
"A meaty, challenging play with impressive acting and direction... compelling and stylish" – CBC Radio
Well how could anyone tell?
Yanna McIntosh and Nancy Palk give performances to remember" – Toronto Star
I remember more of Palk's role in Don Carlos roughly ten years ago. I do think she was good in this play.
"Don't miss this rare staging of a classic" – NOW
Who reads NOW? I cannot believe most of the readership would be thrilled to follow this advice.
"The chance to see one of the great works of European drama illuminated by two such extraordinary performances as those of McIntosh and Palk is one no one should miss." – Eye Weekly
Who reads Eye Weekly?

Same page has some Three Sisters gorp.

Radiant! … Electric! … Triumphantly tragicomic! … Brimming with life!" – National Post
Let me think. For me, Soulpepper's Our Town (which I saw three times! this summer) gets this but I did not see it last year. But all the competitors are Soulpepper's.
A production filled with intelligence, invention and colour… heart-wrenching and poignant” – Toronto Star
Yup - praise seems rather faint.
“Theatrical bliss!” – The Globe and Mail
Concise and to the point - I agree 100%.

As for "The Pillowman" Canadian Stage relies on a Brit review:
A play of extraordinary power
and stunning heatrical bravura."
The Daily Mail (UK)
I may find their behaviour somewhat colonial but that is one very nice description of the play. It is long but you won't fall asleep and you will face a few surprises, including a really good one near the end.

Theatre Season to Come

It is a lot simpler now!

Soulpepper's "Blithe Spirit" (it is nice to see them offering a pleasure that is utterly without risk).

The play itself I have seen in small town little theatre and in London West End and it is always great.

But if you follow the links and look at the cast and know me you will see a string of great significance : "Fiona Reid". Woo hoo! Better book the tickets!