Why authoritarian populists are destined to fail

A review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Why authoritarian populists are destined to failMy son gave me Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress after he had heard him speak on a podcast about his 10th bestseller in 53 years of life as a public intellectual and Harvard professor of cognitive psychology. The gift is part of an ongoing effort to expand…

‘Three sheets to the wind, damn nearly decks awash!’

How an old sailor’s vernacular links us to the past, gives us perspective on a disruptive future … and makes us smile

‘Three sheets to the wind, damn nearly decks awash!’In the early 1900s, steam was rapidly replacing sail, and the square-rigged ‘tea clippers’ that dominated the merchant marine were fast becoming anachronisms. Like so many workers today, sailors suddenly faced an economy characterized by disruption. My great uncle Leighton was one of them. He was captain of the clipper ship Melanope, which was withdrawn…

Kicking the American politics addiction and steering homeward

We need to start thinking about Canada’s future rather than the orchestrated media-borne chaos to the south

Kicking the American politics addiction and steering homewardA good friend said the other day that he had almost completely turned off Canadian politics and that British Columbian politics had “all but disappeared.” He then noted, “Well maybe I am keeping up with the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion debate.” The bottom line is that American political blather, mostly about you know who, is…

My fireplace just helped renew my faith in humanity

A household calamity, an accommodating retailer, some dirty and hard work, and a twofold payoff at the end

My fireplace just helped renew my faith in humanityThis time of year, one of my country morning rituals is cleaning last night’s ashes from the fireplace and laying the beginnings of this evening’s fire. We have what is now considered an old fireplace – it has a brick-lined fire chamber with a small rectangular ash-emptying door in the centre of the fireplace floor.…

Vancouver stories that resonate far and wide

The coastal city is uniquely placed, by geography and patterns of global investment, to bear intelligent witness to international currents

Vancouver stories that resonate far and wideVancouver has a long history of welcoming new citizens, first at the end of steel or fresh off the boat. Five generations of Chinese, Japanese, East Indians, Filipinos and even Hawaiians have joined a broad European diaspora in building a port city on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. All of these people…

Spring arrives at Skelhp and the wildlife parade follows

Orcas, otters, a majestic eagle, a marauding racoon and a diminishing deer family all herald the changing of seasons on the coast

Spring arrives at Skelhp and the wildlife parade followsIt was a long February. As my neighbour, a veteran of several more Skelhp winters than I, likes to say: “Cold, dark and wet.” Exactly. And then a day like March 3 happens. It dawned lighter. That’s normal up here this time of year. More light starts creeping in around 7 a.m. each morning. It’s…

Donald Trump vs Robert Mueller: chaos over order

What model best defines American society today? Robert Mueller’s exemplary service or Donald Trump’s life of disruption?

Donald Trump vs Robert Mueller: chaos over orderSelf-made versus Daddy’s boy. University of Virginia Law School versus Wharton School undergraduate economics degree. Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart as a marine captain in Vietnam versus five draft deferments for college and bone spurs. Public service versus entitled self-indulgence. Tight management of a professional work team versus constant leaks, fights and…

Kate Harris’ Lands of Lost Borders a masterpiece

In Lands of Lost Borders, Kate Harris ruminates on 10 months aboard a bicycle along the Silk Road once conquered by Marco Polo

Kate Harris’ Lands of Lost Borders a masterpieceLands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road By Kate Harris Knopf Canada, 2018 Kate Harris is a Canadian Rhodes Scholar who studied the history of science at Oxford, dropped out of her microbiology PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and instead has found her métier as a modern-day explorer. Channeling…

America today: parallels to post-Gorbachev Russia uncanny

The parallels between Russia more than 20 years ago and the United States today are deeply disturbing

America today: parallels to post-Gorbachev Russia uncannyWhen the horrible first reports of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., began hitting my smartphone feed, I somehow involuntarily reconnected with feelings that I associate with the societal chaos I experienced working in Russia more than 20 years ago. It was the post-Mikhail Gorbachev era, when communism had…

Sooner or later, we will turn away from oil

Part 2: Albertans can lead the next economic revolution by pioneering new energy enterprises

Sooner or later, we will turn away from oilShould Alberta be allowed to move its unrefined diluted bitumen to British Coumbia’s tidewater in Burnaby via pipeline and then quadruple tanker traffic through Vancouver harbour, the city that bills itself as the world’s greenest? And does the pipeline proponent, Kinder Morgan, have the permission of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, the unceded…
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