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…

Looking through an unusual lens at Ronald Reagan

Movie Nights with the Reagans provides an intimate look at a presidency that continues to influence the political landscape

Looking through an unusual lens at Ronald ReaganLovers of both movies and politics will want to check out a new book Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg. Published by Simon and Schuster, it’s an intimate, heartfelt remembrance of what it was like to share regular weekend movie nights at Camp David in the 1980s with President Ronald Reagan and first lady…

The overwhelming imagery of the Crucifixion

The child that was me experienced the lead-up to Easter as foreboding rather than inspiring

The overwhelming imagery of the CrucifixionI was never big on Easter. As a Catholic schoolboy in 1950s Ireland, Easter played second fiddle to Christmas. In fact, the competition wasn’t even close. Christmas had several advantages. For one thing, school holidays were longer. Whereas Easter only delivered a week and a half, Christmas tacked on a further full week. The tone,…

The tragedy of Oscar Wilde

The Anglo-Irish playwright, poet and novelist ended up imprisoned, the casualty of his own foolishness

The tragedy of Oscar WildeOnce upon a time, I had an uncomplicated view of capital punishment. I was against it. Period. And a reading of the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde could reduce me to tears. Even now with a much more nuanced view of the subject, the power of the language still moves me.…

The diet shell game

Stick to the evidence when reporting on – and endorsing – food studies. We need real solutions to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, not sales jobs

The diet shell gameTwo of the best-known American food journalists have been telling readers lately that the DASH and Mediterranean diets aren’t best for our health. But the evidence tells a different story. The journalists are Gary Taubes, the author of The Case Against Sugar, and Nina Teicholz, the author of the bestselling The Big Fat Surprise. In their recent…

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…

Let’s stop gratuitously thrashing historical reputations

Emily Murphy should be celebrated for her accomplishments and how they changed Canadian society for the better, not reviled for her shortcomings

Let’s stop gratuitously thrashing historical reputationsDecades ago, I remember my father complaining about “the new fashion for debunking.” But imbued with the certainty of a university freshman, I wasn’t particularly sympathetic. In retrospect, though, he had a point. I was reminded of this the other day when I came across my research notes for a decade-old historical journal essay on…

Kindersley native publishes first book

‘I am a faith-based adventurer who enjoys people, ideas and the mess of life,’ says the author

Kindersley native publishes first bookKevin McBain of The Clarion Kindersley’s Ron Baker recently self-published his first of what he hopes will be many books to come. The book, In the beginning: 2005-2006 – Random thoughts as life goes on, is a compilation of selected blog posts he wrote over that period. “I just love to write and I have…

Harry Truman completely unprepared for his accidental presidency

The inauspicious heir to the White House had planned to play poker the night Roosevelt died. Instead, he became president

Harry Truman completely unprepared for his accidental presidencyVice-President Harry Truman’s life changed on Thursday, April 12, 1945. That was the day Franklin D. Roosevelt died and Truman became the 33rd president of the United States. To virtually everyone, including himself, Truman was an inauspicious heir. Journalist A.J. Baime’s The Accidental President nicely captures the general bemusement. Born in small-town Missouri in 1884, there…

A New Year’s reading list for the 99.09 per cent

Four authors who lay bare a depressing world of plutocrats, oligarchs and the international kakistocracy

A New Year’s reading list for the 99.09 per centJanuary is book month in our house. It’s when we finally come to grips with reading all the titles that accumulated over Christmas and, in my case, a January birthday. I’ve read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats: The Rise of the Rise of the New Global…