Archive for March, 2008

08w14:1 Gladwell vs Gopnik in Toronto

by timothy. 0 Comments

Weisblott’s excellent summary convinces me this was eminently missable. Gebu was there, and she said this about it:

Today, e and I went to a debate held by Maclean’s: Canada: Nation or Notion. The argument was more of a semantic variety, but it was a lively conversation between Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, or The Tipping Point) and Adam Gopnik (Paris to the Moon). The problem was that the two speakers had similar backgrounds — expats who are now living in NYC — but the discussion was entertaining. Adrienne Clarkson and her hubbie, John Ralston Saul, were there, and she asked a question. (Everyone else had to write their questions on a cue card, but I guess if you’re Adrienne Clarkson, then you’re not writing your question on a cue card.)

Gladwell vs Gopnik | Marc Weisblott
“Today on the Scroll: A pair of Canadian journalists who are richer and more famous than anyone who lives here feign an argument about Canada’s future. […] Look, whatever it is, it’s not The New Yorker — for one thing, The New Yorker’s website is designed in a way that makes it possible to read the stories that are posted. Maclean’s also lacks a budget for cartoons, opting instead to dedicate its pages to Rebecca Eckler complaining about being ripped off for the movie Knocked Up, followed by her account of infiltrating a gang of online tormentors. Just in case you were wondering why neither of the star debaters still live here. […] Canada’s continued existence, on the other hand, is important to Maclean’s — and for the sake of a rebroadcast of the debate on the CBC’s Ideas on April 7 — but for a live audience in Toronto? Maybe to front-row sitters Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul but, otherwise, the topic was probably a turn-off to those journalism groupies and wannabe writers who’d eagerly hear tales of this pair’s workplace. Plus, the $30 ticket went for half the price to Maclean’s subscribers.”

08w12:3 The Street on Welfare

by timothy. 3 Comments

Society has always benefitted from unpaid or underpaid labour; in the past it was blatant slavery, but when that became unfashionable (and unprofitable contrasted to the production offered by machines rather than muscles) the emphasis shifted to calling unpaid labour ‘volunteers’ and nowadays, the most obvious example of all, ‘interns’. But since it is so unpalatable to recognize this as a contemporary form of slavery, we euphemize it away, and consider that we don’t have a slavery class, although there are many people working for a legally determined absolute minimum wage. In other words, we had to be legally coercive to get people paid for basic services. So now it’s officially illegal to not pay people below a certain amount, but this amount is so low that it’s guaranteed to keep the recipient poor. That way, there’s a lot more money available (which could otherwise go to the volunteers, interns, and making the minimum a livable wage) to those in the upper levels of management.


(graph via Richard Florida’s Blog)

And when those in the upper levels of management over-reach, no problem. Privatize the profits and socialize the losses. As true in Canada as it is in the USA.

Meanwhile, I’m busy at my underpaid job and still carrying student loan debt on my account books from a decade ago.

– Timothy

The Street on Welfare | E. J. Dionne Jr.
“Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy. The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost “confidence” in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another’s portfolios. So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can’t have that. It’s just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are “too big to fail,” because they could bring us all down with them.”

08w12:1 Obama's Speech

by timothy. 0 Comments

I’m linking to the Reddit link for its comment-thread, currently running at 689.

Obama Speech In Full: A More Perfect Union ( | Reddit



Text of the Speech on New York Times

08w11:3 2051 years ago

by timothy. 0 Comments

15 March 710 AUC

Caesar is dead
The Assasisnation of Julius Caesar
as depicted in HBO’s Rome (2005)

Ides of March | Wikipedia
“In the Roman calendar, the term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other 8 months.[1].”

Assassination of Julius Caesar
“As Caesar began to read the false petition, Tillius Cimber, who had handed him the petition, pulled down Caesar’s tunic. While Caesar was crying to Cimber ‘But that is violence!’ (‘Ista quidem vis est!’), the aforementioned Casca produced his dagger and made a glancing thrust at the dictator’s neck. Caesar turned around quickly and caught Casca by the arm, saying in Latin ‘Casca, you villain, what are you doing?’ [1] Casca, frightened, shouted “Help, brother” in Greek (‘adelphe, boethei!’). Within moments, the entire group, including Brutus, was striking out at the dictator. Caesar attempted to get away, but, blinded by blood, he tripped and fell; the men continued stabbing him as he lay defenseless on the lower steps of the portico. According to Eutropius, around sixty or more men participated in the assassination. He was stabbed 23 times.[2] According to Suetonius, a physician later established that only one wound, the second one to his chest, had been lethal.[3] The dictator’s last words are not known with certainty, and are a contested subject among scholars and historians alike. The version best known in the English-speaking world is the Latin phrase Et tu, Brute? (‘even you, Brutus?’ or ‘you too, Brutus?’); this derives from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, where it actually forms the first half of a macaronic line: ‘Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar.’ Shakespeare’s version evidently follows in the tradition of the Roman historian Suetonius, who reports that Caesar’s last words were the Greek phrase ‘…'[4] (transliterated as ‘Kai su, teknon?’: ‘You too, my child?’ in English).[5] Plutarch, on the other hand, reports that Caesar said nothing, pulling his toga over his head when he saw Brutus among the conspirators.[6]”

Thoughts on Rome and Caesar | Timothy Comeau

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Sic Semper Tyrannis

08w11:01 Dolphin to the Rescue

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NZ dolphin rescues beached whales | BBC
“‘I don’t speak whale and I don’t speak dolphin,’ Mr Smith told the BBC, ‘but there was obviously something that went on because the two whales changed their attitude from being quite distressed to following the dolphin quite willingly and directly along the beach and straight out to sea.’ He added: ‘The dolphin did what we had failed to do. It was all over in a matter of minutes.’