Powell River celebrates its progressive roots

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to be performed at PRISMA. In 1913, the ballet unleashed a mad torrent of modernity on the members of Parisienne high society

Powell River celebrates its progressive rootsOn the May 29, 1913, the Paris premiere of The Rite of Spring took place at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. The Russian ballet’s choreographer was Vaslav Nijinsky and the symphony’s composer was Igor Stravinsky. Together that night, almost exactly 105 years ago, they unleashed a mad torrent of modernity on the members of Parisienne high…

The great pipeline debate has degenerated

We need a way to drill down to the science and legality related to Trans Mountain. We need to replace cacophony with compromise

The great pipeline debate has degeneratedThe last few months have illustrated how we now argue in public in Canada and the picture is not encouraging. I’m referring to what many think of as the great pipeline debate: the pros and cons of the Kinder Morgan diluted bitumen Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from the Alberta oilsands to tidewater in Vancouver. We…

The pipeline to the future doesn’t carry the jobs of the past

The ruckus over the Kinder Morgan project is a good reminder that the economic conditions we once enjoyed are on the way out

The pipeline to the future doesn’t carry the jobs of the pastWhile the opinion writers and politicians are venting about expanding the Kinder Morgan pipeline for diluted bitumen to the West Coast, it might help to consider some history. We didn’t arrive at this shout-fest without making diverse tracks from previous experiences, and most of us are old enough to think back over a few previous…

A town-to-town hike along the Ligurian Sea

Cinque Terra offers astonishing vistas of beauty and a rigorous test of your hiking fitness

A town-to-town hike along the Ligurian SeaWhen I was first asked about going to Cinque Terra, I didn’t have a clue where it was. “Northern Italy – on the west coast, north of Pisa,” I was told. “Not quite on the French border. At the top of the boot!” I consulted my iPhone Google atlas and read some travel essays. What…

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architecture

London’s National Gallery exhibit offers rare glimpses into the artist’s examination of the play of light on human structures

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architectureOne of the great things about being a retired museum and art gallery CEO is that you know most of the basic tricks of the trade. For instance, you can get a very quick gauge of an exhibition’s successes and high points by talking with the gallery security staff. So as soon as we had…

Spring surprises at Skelhp: red tide and Cuddles

Fir pollen on the water (perhaps), black bears on the prowl. All part of a spring visit to Skelhp

Spring surprises at Skelhp: red tide and CuddlesI recently made the trip up the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver to Skelhp under sunny skies with spring projects in mind. It’s still a month before the vegetable garden needs to be seeded, but it’s time to rake in some fireplace ash and turn the soil in the rows. The raspberry canes need pruning, and…

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…