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Film review: Danton outgrosses Robespierre

Preface: As I've said, oldie writing will be dusted off and plunked blogside (at least at first; new stuff should gradually overtake i...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Climate change: the current epitome of the human comedy?

Trying to summarize the Hydra-headed beast that is climate change is a challenge, I'll admit.
    Although the topic is a chronic invader of my brain, and, after picking up a "News & Opinion" section of a newspaper one morning and finding the issue is rampant upon its eight pages, I can still stare at the damn computer screen for 15 minutes trying to get the familiar herd of elephants in the room into some semblance of order.
    It isn't just that the facts of global warming are mind-bogglingly complex (which they are). A huffer and puffer upon climate-science could simply point to the rapidly shrinking Arctic ice-cap, and thence to the Stockholm protesters on p.A23 with their eloquent "#debateisover" sign (hm, has the Guinness Book of World Records registered the world's first placard employing a hashtag?) and shout, grumble or quietly insist that it is clearly time to DO something. Cut the damn CO2 emissions already!
    Ah, if only the solution were so easy. Then surely some bumbling attempt, at least, would already have happened. What?--you say several bumbling attempts HAVE been attempted? My gracious, then WHAT could be the problem?
    Well, we all know the rogues' gallery: politicians beholden to big energy companies, stinking right-wing media-people and opinion-leaders also probably directly or indirectly on the payroll (that would be me, minus the followers and the payoff), misguided lay-folks in thrall to these politicians and sophists--in short everyone who can be lumped under the "denier" rubric. Refute these weaselly obstructionists, or better yet just knock them out of the way, and we will quickly get the CO2 under .400 again.
   As I say, a very pleasant vision, and there are bleak days when I wish I could subscribe to it. Beats the hell out of getting a nano-second into a "but" and getting lumped with the deniers. For thus goes and thus has gone the "debate" now declared over. Be part of the problem or part of the solution, and God's mercy on anyone who thinks there might be any middle ground in this clear-cut Manicheism.
   The Holy Grail of the climate-believers, as you probably know is an international agreement to reduce those CO2 emissions; my fundamental critique of this Grail is that we have no politician gutsy or foolhardy enough to play King Knud (aka Canute) and point out that things don't just happen because our omnipotent dictators order them to happen; and where the economic rubber meets the road, reducing CO2 in any significant way will likely necessitate some harsh and violent braking, harsher than was seen in the 2008 slowdown.
    Do this thought-experiment..

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why high culture is always counterculture, but not vice versa

Tucked inconspicuously in the back of The Mencken Chrestomathy, in a section titled...

How to profit from the dollar-standard in the arts

Heaps and heaps and heaps of paper, and sitting atop one heap for the longest time, Hilton Kramer's The Revenge of the Philistines, subtitled: Art and Culture 1972-1984.
    On the pretext of attacking and subduing the heap, I grab it and toss it onto my "immediate" heap of supposedly high-priority stuff. Neither as decisive or shrewd a move as I'm trying to make it...

Whoa! Adbusters has a grand scheme for us!

Perhaps I have a twisted sense of humor, but it always strikes me as funny that I can pick up a copy of Adbusters at Safeway. The new revolution, plunked between Esquire and tubs of potato-salad, mine for only $12.99 plus GST (the price giving a fair indication how much advertising helps with cost of the average $5.99 to $7.99 glossy; and REALLY, why doesn't everybody just round up to the dollar?)
    Adbusters has recently ditched its perverse oversize format for the normal 8x11 magazine size, but something about the last issue (some aspect of its always-fervent ideology, no doubt) annoyed me into passing it over, as I usually do. At the risk of revealing a punchy punchline without a spoiler-alert, Adbusters is solid leftie and this scoffer is implacable rightie. And maybe that is all you need to know.
    But as occasionally happens, I grab a copy...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Are essays dead?--or just a billion zombies?

The Grand Ponderits of academe frequently stroke their beards over whether the novel-form is dead, although the topic is abstruse and boring enough that it rarely hits mainstream media, and is thus easily avoided. Not given the beard-stroking treatment, however, is the question of...

...usual cliff-hanger...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On being invalid

The day before surgery we are prepped ("pre-screening" they call it). I park in the new Edmonton Clinic and walk through the long overpass to University Hospital (proper name: Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre) which affords an impressive panorama to those strolling across. Not much greenery, just a few trees and grass-patches--but along 114 Street we take in a striking array of architecture--on the left, mere feet away, is the old brick Nurses Home (title engraved on a stone lintel) now titled "Research Transition Facility" (on cardboard or plastic, in a window); on the right the huge University Hospital-complex complete with outbuildings (e.g. Clinical Sciences) surviving from the days of the old University Hospital.
    It was brick too, as are a dozen or so remaining historical buildings on the University of Alberta campus. One, the Administration Building, is visible straight to the north...

...to be continued...

...yep, this one will wander a bit, to Voltaire-on-Shakespeare among other digressions... don't go away!... wait, wait! Where are you going?...