Category Archives: Blog

American Idol

I have not been following this season with much passion, but I watched this and thought it was lovely. (That said, the band was far too loud.) I was sad to see Walker Burroughs get the boot.


I sometimes think about going back to school for my Ph.D. But then I read things like this and wonder. There was a time when having a doctorate meant something positive about your intellect and your ability to think critically. I don’t think that is true anymore. I think it merely means something about being able to fit in with the unfortunate zeitgeist. Further, I think my Significant Other is correct when he says tenure should be abolished.

The Treachery of Assange

Written eight years ago – still accurate.

You did not have to listen for too long to Julian Assange’s half-educated condemnations of the American “military-industrial complex” to know that he was aching to betray better and braver people than he could ever be.

As soon as WikiLeaks received the State Department cables, Assange announced that the opponents of dictatorial regimes and movements were fair game. That the targets of the Taliban, for instance, were fighting a clerical-fascist force, which threatened every good liberal value, did not concern him. They had spoken to US diplomats. They had collaborated with the great Satan. Their safety was not his concern.

Cannot believe anyone would be sophomoric or morally bankrupt enough to support the guy, and yet, so many do.

Good Friday: Notre Dame

It’s a quiet, rainy Good Friday. Currently contemplating whether I should go out and try to get some pictures of the procession. Wanted to comment a bit on Notre Dame and the fire. First, read this great piece by historian Tom Holland. Second, I’m a bit tired of hearing all of this silly sort of “instead of millionaires donating money to rebuild a church, shouldn’t these same millionaires be building houses for the poor” comment repeated over and over. Lovely ideal, but one needn’t have spent years studying economics to understand why this is not how things function. If it were that simple such decisions would be so much easier and clearer, and no one would be destitute.

Third, here’s a bad photo I took of Notre Dame, four years ago. I have taken good photos of the cathedral, but I have a fondness for this picture above the others. Significant Other and I were in Paris and I convinced him to take a boat ride along the Seine. I had seen Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant do the same in Charade and imagined us in elegant splendour, drinking champagne. Instead, ’twas a nightmare: crowded with loud, aggressive tourists; cold; rushed. I am a seasoned traveler, and should have known this was how it would be, but…I did get this photo and we had a great laugh about the whole experience.

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Alain Finkielkraut

Paul Berman, one of the best essayists out there, writes about the great Alain Finkielkraut, anti-Semitism, France, the Gilets Jaunes and the latter’s recent attack on Finkielkraut.  And much, much more.

The sidewalk attack ought to remind us, in short, that Zola’s phrase (in his immortal J’accuse) was “imbecile anti-Semitism,” and not something adjective-free. Imbecility undergirds the phenomenon. If the attack on Finkielkraut revealed anything new, it was only by showing that imbecilities of different provenances can blend together—a loathing of the Jews compatible with the leftist tone of Yellow Vest economic protest; a loathing in the populist mode, with its rhetoric of “the people” against the Jews; and, as it happens, a touch of Islamist loathing, to boot. The most vituperative of the Yellow Vests shouting at Finkielkraut turned out to be an Islamist, known to the French police. The Yellow Vests on the sidewalk must have found the combination very exciting.

A long piece, but oh so worth your time.

W.S. Merwin

W.S. Merwin died about a month ago – I was late to discover his work. Maybe five years ago I picked up a collection of his in a second-hand bookstore and have been hooked since. Here is a favourite:

The Wonder of the Imperfect

Nothing that I do is finished
so I keep returning to it
lured by the notion that I long
to see the whole of it at last
completed and estranged from me

but no the unfinished is what
I return to as it leads me on
I am made whole by what has just
escaped me as it always does
I am made of incompleteness
the words are not there in words

oh gossamer gossamer breath
moment daylight life untouchable
by no name with no beginning

what do we think we recognize

Do yourselves a favour and read more of his poems.