Category Archives: AI — Blog 2011

Monday, December 18, 2011 — We Need More Intelligent Protest, Part 3

We will pause in mem­o­ry of some­one who knew the mean­ing of protest.

Václav Hav­el — Octo­ber 5, 1936 – 18 Decem­ber 18, 2011

Truth and love must pre­vail over lies and hate.” — V.H.

Read this fine sum­ma­tion of Havel’s char­ac­ter and career by John Keane. Par­tic­u­lar­ly worth not­ing is this para­graph:

So, giv­en his mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties and abun­dant achieve­ments, what is the best way to remem­ber Václav Hav­el? We should mourn his pass­ing, cer­tain­ly. But democ­ra­cies shouldn’t immor­tal­ize their lead­ers, past or present. They mustn’t allow any­body to sit on thrones. Yes, they need to pre­serve mem­o­ries of fig­ures like Hav­el, par­tic­u­lar­ly in our dark­en­ing times, when more than a few democ­ra­cies find them­selves in trou­ble. Yet democ­rats should try to live with­out polit­i­cal heroes and myths of great lead­ers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 — Yesterday and Today in Toronto

A long time ago, Peter Usti­nov described Toron­to as “New York run by the Swiss.” This was dur­ing one of the peri­ods when our city was con­sid­ered a mod­el for oth­ers [see my piece from five years ago about that peri­od]. But it was not the first time. While it has sagged and stag­nat­ed at times, there were sev­er­al peri­ods when Toron­to has been con­sid­ered an epi­cen­ter of progress and moder­ni­ty. Dur­ing those peri­ods, some able peo­ple rose in civic pol­i­tics. Nev­er per­fect peo­ple, but at least tal­ent­ed and rea­son­ably civic-mind­ed. The sleeze­balls, hacks and pinch-nosed bean-coun­ters were at least tem­porar­i­ly eclipsed. Read more »

Image of the month:

11-12-01 BLOG Image of the month

Saturday, Nov 20, 2011 — We Need More Intelligent Protest, Part 2

Shake­speare didn’t have Romeo and Juli­et com­mit sui­cide in the first act, and then let the remain­ing char­ac­ters pitch tents on the stage and chat aim­less­ly for the remain­ing four acts. That was because Shake­speare was a drama­tist. His aim was to move peo­ple to emo­tion, to make them think, to shock, hor­ri­fy, or delight them. Let us, for the sake of argu­ment, assume that he was pret­ty good at it. Today’s pro­test­ers could learn a thing or two from him. Read more »

Monday, Nov 14, 2011 — We Need More Intelligent Protest, Part 1

I’ve vis­it­ed the “Occu­py Toron­to” protest site three times, now. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is this:

A small, but rather pret­ty down­town park is filled with tents. They do not get in the way of any­thing. Traf­fic along the adja­cent streets and side­walks is unim­ped­ed. There is lit­tle noise. The park is self-con­tained, and the only peo­ple incon­ve­nienced are the hand­ful who stroll through the park in nice weath­er, and some office work­ers who cus­tom­ar­i­ly take their lunch­es to eat among the flow­ers. With the bad weath­er com­ing in, even this small group van­ish­es from the equa­tion.  Read more »

Image of the month: Dinosaur of the Deep

11-11-01 BLOG Imange of the month - Dinosaur of the Deep

Sunday, October 23, 2011 — Protests, Unreal and Real

I’ve passed by the “Occu­py Toron­to” camp­site a few times, this week. Nor­mal­ly, I’m not much impressed by polit­i­cal demon­stra­tions. In North Amer­i­ca, they have proven woe­ful­ly inef­fec­tu­al over the last gen­er­a­tion. The peo­ple who orga­nize them are usu­al­ly far more inter­est­ed in the pas­time of demon­strat­ing that in accom­plish­ing any goals. In fact, they are most­ly counter-pro­duc­tive, because the Pow­ers That Be long ago fig­ured out how to turn them to their own advan­tage. So I always wince when I see the usu­al band of scruffy teenagers wear­ing cir­cle-As, the aging hip­pies, the pre­dictable “polit­i­cal the­atre” stunts, the mean­ing­less slo­gans, and the drea­ry chants. Those in pow­er love these peo­ple, espe­cial­ly the self-styled “anar­chists,” because they re-inforce author­i­ty, rather than threat­en it. Noth­ing dis­cred­its real oppo­si­tion in the eyes of the pub­lic more effec­tive­ly than a few sec­onds of TV footage show­ing a teenag­er with his face paint­ed, scream­ing unin­tel­lige­able slo­gans. They see what appears to them to be a mob of brain­less pranx­ters. The issues can then be safe­ly buried by the media. Read more »

Image of the month:

11-10-01 BLOG Image of the month

Friday, September 10, 2011 — Mycenae, Nafplios, Corinth

We chose to vis­it Myce­nae dur­ing our lim­it­ed time on the main­land. As the Myce­naeans were the suc­ces­sors (and per­haps con­querors) of the Minoans, their most impres­sive ruins of were a fit­ting choice. They are dra­mat­i­cal­ly locat­ed on a steep hill, flanked by a deep canyon, from which you can see the entire­ty of the Argol­id plain, and even a fleet approach­ing by sea would have been vis­i­ble. The “cyclo­pean” walls are extreme­ly impres­sive, many of the blocks weigh­ing over twen­ty tons. I thought the famous “Gate of the Lions” would be one of those icon­ic images that dis­ap­points in real life, but it lives up to its rep­u­ta­tion. It was vis­i­ble in his­toric times with­out exca­va­tion. The exca­va­tions and very cau­tious recon­struc­tions by Greek archae­ol­o­gists have not involved the laisse-majesté prac­ticed by Evans at Knos­sos. What you see is large­ly the citadel as it was in Late Hel­ladic IIIa (cir­ca 1250–1200 BC), open to the pub­lic with only enough recon­struc­tion, path­ways, fenc­ing and edu­ca­tion­al plaquing to make it com­pre­hen­si­ble to the pub­lic and yet keep it from being destroyed by vis­i­tors. Read more »

Thursday, September 9, 2011 — West Crete Gallery

Pho­tos tak­en in West Crete:

Read more »