Archive for February, 2011

Lots of babies being born these days. Over the past six weeks or so, no less than seven people I know have had or are due to have brand-new gorgeous babies to welcome to the world. And that’s exciting to me, cause I love babies and I love to see new parents celebrate and find this whole new joy and love. Welcome, to all of you, to the very best of the world.

My own baby ain’t so little any more. A teenager now, and well on the way from the last of childhood to the meat of adolescence. It’s a time of pride in who she has become, a time of remembering that little girl who is, in a very real sense, gone, and a time of reflection on my relationship with her, my role as a parent. There is much to be thankful for. But also much regret and a whole lot of struggle with inadequacy. (more…)


Read Full Post »

People from at least 30 countries (including Egypt) have sent pizzas to help feed the folks occupying the Capitol building in Madison, WI.  It’s a small gesture of support, but concrete & immediate.
Here’s the info:  Ian’s Pizza, 608-257-9248. $20 gets a 20″ pie with drinks which will feed 8 people. Oh, and don’t forget something for a tip.
For background, here’s a New York Times piece on the pizza solidarity thing.

Read Full Post »

Just a quick note today. The new book blog is up at http://requiredreadings.ca

Still in progress, of course, and I am welcoming suggestions.

For now it’s primarily just a list, but we’ll be trying to do short posts on a different entry every day.

Read. Debate. Read more.



Read Full Post »

The wave of rebellion continues across the Middle East and North Africa, with Bahrain and Libya being the latest to hold the gaze of the international media. Where all this will lead us is still unclear, and I continue to react with equal parts optimism and dread. There is no question that this is an important historic moment, no question either that the international nature of this current rebellion is particularly significant – I mean, we have often witnessed struggles in various areas informing and inspiring one another, but rarely have we seen waves of protest play out so much like dominoes. It is abundantly clear that something has dramatically shifted in the region, and whatever it is that emerges is going to have lasting impact on the geo-politics of not only the affected nation-states, but the world. And what could be more inspiring than to see the ways popular uprising across the world has impacted the struggles of workers in Wisconsin? Facing an all-out legislative war on their hard-won rights, workers in that state have been mounting escalating protests not only against the specific legislation being proposed, but against the whole political-economic-cultural apparatus behind that legislation. And messages come from Egypt, messages of solidarity in struggle and even – from halfway across the globe – pizzas for the Wisconsin rebels from their comrades in Cairo. So. fucking. awesome.

Today, though, the news is all Libya, and it is interesting to watch the very different character of this coverage to that we’ve seen out of the other flashpoints of this rebellion. Oh, the generic celebration of people-power is the same, as is the focus on the individual dictator responsible for it all. But in Libya, for the first time in several weeks, we are witnessing a fairly coherent response from the EU, the Americans and the Canadians. In Libya, it is not an ally of the West that is set to tumble, but a long-time thorn in the side – and that makes for all the difference. (more…)

Read Full Post »

A few years back, a zoologist who sat on our union executive recommended a book to me by an author I had never heard of – Blindness, by Jose Saramago. Took me a while to get around to reading it, but when I finally did so I was completely blown away. Saramago did everything so well, and merged social critique and storytelling like no one else. The imaginative premises of Kurt Vonnegut, the political force of John Steinbeck or Margaret Atwood at their best, the intellectual sophistication of Umberto Eco, the magic of Isabel Allende or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and a brilliant prose entirely his own. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of him before, all the moreso when I realized that Jose Saramago was renowned as a communist social critic and had won the Nobel prize.

It is exciting to stumble across a Saramago, to discover a voice, to rush out and feverishly read anything and everything to have come from that pen, to preach the good news of this find to friends and family. But it doesn’t happen often.

The latest such discovery in our little world is J.M. Coetzee. Another Nobel Laureate, I’d never heard of him until Meg and I started exploring the “1001 Books to Read Before You Die” that has been so much in my blog posts lately. This Coetzee guy kept popping up everywhere, and so we pulled a few books of his out of the library and started reading. (more…)

Read Full Post »

I’ve got three novels on the go at the moment: Cancer Ward, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, and a weird little gothic mystery that spans several centuries called Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd. Vastly different, all of them, and all a stretch for me in some way. In my younger years I would never pick up Solzhenitsyn – he was the literary darling of the West during the Cold War, as a result of which my younger, more politically naive and ridiculously judgey days  would have nothing to do with him. Hawksmoor is just plain odd, half of it written in 17th century english and telling the story of an architect involved with underground and remotely-satanic rituals, the other half being a contemporary murder mystery set around a number of English churches. And Vonnegut? OK, I confess. I don’t like Vonnegut. Meg suggests I should have read him younger, and perhaps that’s the case, cause so many folks whose tastes I generally share are big fans. But as I’ve only recently delved into his stuff, I find it hard to see the attraction – no plot, no character development, and no great philosophical insight; just sequences that either begin a story that never goes anywhere or attempts to be satiric that come off as just kind of nonsensical and don’t seem to add up to any coherent commentary. I know – blasphemy. Sorry. (more…)

Read Full Post »

This is critically important.

Iisaak Forest Resources has applied to the BC government for permission to helicopter log on Flores Island, and public consultation is open only until February 18. Flores is one of the last pieces of wild we have in this province – an island of old-growth forest and amazing white sand beaches just off Tofino and home to the national Chief of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.  Some years ago, the Wilderness Committee and the Flores Island band worked together to to create the Wildside Trail, an incredible hiking destination through some of the most beautiful land on the planet. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »