Canadian Thanksgiving 2017, Catalonia capers in Spain, and the unbearable lightness of Mélanie Joly

Posted: October 11th, 2017 | No Comments »

“It’s October already and the leaves in High Park are still very green. Eduardo Lima/mEtro.”

[UPDATED OCTOBER 13, 14, 15, 16]. Just when I start to conclude that the younger generation running things these days has lost all interest in the literary graces that disciplined my own heyday, I come across a headline like : “Fall features fail to fully unfurl” — in the free metro news tabloid I like to look at with my Tim Horton’s coffee.

All liberations of this sort are necessarily fleeting, it seems. I unhappily note that the online edition of the same report by the gifted Genna Buck has been re-titled “Don’t expect great fall colours in the GTA this year, expert says … Warm weather means fewer autumn colours.”

This may be more informative in some sense, but it’s less interesting — and/or fun to read over coffee, looking out the window at the still quite green local Kew Gardens across the street!

In any case, as I thought about the many things I ought to be thankful for on the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, October 7-9, 2017, number one on my list this year was whoever thought up the wonderfully alliterative “Fall features fail to fully unfurl,” as a title for Genna Buck’s explanation of why “It’s October already and the leaves in High Park are still very green.”

I have just two very quick further thoughts about Thanksgiving 2017 in the northern woods.

Spanish woman fighting for the Republic in the 1930s Spanish Civil War, armed with British Lee-Enfield rifle. Many thanks to Yvonne Dyer.

First, living very close to Lake Ontario as my TV watching partner and I do, the leaves on our trees are always pretty green on the second Monday in October. This unusually mild autumn is not changing things much in that respect.

Second, I never quite appreciated just how bland and unassuming our Canadian Thanksgiving is, until I spent a US Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) in Kansas City, a while ago now. (I guess I prefer the more laid-back and casual way we celebrate the holiday. I also guess many in the USA would not — but then I remember as well the many others who never vote in elections, and in their private kingdoms get very serious about “live free or die.”)

Meanwhile, two more political events — one in today’s revival of Ernest Hemingway’s Spain and one here at home in Canada — are at least vaguely on my mind, as I also contemplate just how thankful I am that I live in the country I do, especially at this moment in trumpet time. (And for more than anyone ever wanted to know on all this click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below!)

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Ave atque vale Hugh Hefner : “one of a handful of people who most represent the sexual revolution” .. maybe ??

Posted: September 29th, 2017 | No Comments »

“Hefner works on the first issue of Playboy magazine in his Chicago apartment,” 1953. (Photo provided by Playboy Enterprises.)

Like others, no doubt, I haven’t looked at a copy of Playboy magazine for a great many years. And I never subscribed or otherwise read the articles (or looked at the photos) regularly.

But for a time in the late 1950s and 1960s, it was something young men my age were expected to know about and take an interest in. The recent death of founder Hugh Hefner, at the impressive age of 91, does seem a milestone of sorts in my life.

I don’t have a lot to say — and certainly I can offer no unique analysis.

I can only point to four main sources on the subject I bumped into, during a morning’s research-homage to a man who, in his own words, was “one of a handful of people who most represent the sexual revolution” in the North America where I grew up :

(1) My first source is a long obituary from the Los Angeles Times : “Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who shook up American morality with an ideal of swinging singlehood, dies at 91.” I thought it did a nice job of surveying the Hefner career in easily digested prose.

(2) “Hugh Hefner Fast Facts” from the “CNN Library” does an equally nice job of summarizing the career in even more easily digested bullet points.

(3) These days I often find Wikipedia articles much better than the reputation which preceded them for quite a while. And I found the Wkipedia article on “Playboy … an American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine” quite helpful in this case.

Hugh Hefner poses with "bunny-girl hostess" Bonnie J. Halpin at the Playboy Club in Chicago, June 20, 1961. (ED KITCH / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO).

(4) One thing I can remember hearing by word of mouth back in the late 1950s and early 1960s was that Miles Davis had declined a Playboy jazz award because the magazine did not have black playmates. (This changed with Jennifer Jackson in the March 1965 issue : see Josh Robertson on “A History of Black Playboy Playmates,” February 1, 2013.) Whatever the exact truth may be here, the black journalist Alex Haley (of later Roots fame) finally interviewed Miles Davis for Playboy in 1962, and the interview was published in the September issue that year. As the “Jerry Jazz Musician” website aptly opined in April 2016, Mr. Davis’s 1962 “opinions on race, politics and culture continue to be important … a reminder of the complexity of American life.” (And this seems even more to the point in the early autumn of 2017.)

From these four main sources (and a few related articles) I have assembled a quick-and-dirty chronology of top 10 non-fake facts that still intrigue me. It is followed by an extra bow to the 1962 Miles Davis interview, and a wild guess about a present-day trend Hugh Hefner at least reminds me of, that has nothing directly to do with sex. (Granting that many, many things are indirectly connected this way, of course … ) :

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If the USA can have Donald Trump as president, Canada can have Wab Kinew as leader of Manitoba NDP ????

Posted: September 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

Youthful Wab Kinew as an indigenous hip-hop rapper, back in the day.

This past Monday Dan Lett at the Winnipeg Free Press wrote : “The path that Wab Kinew is walking just became incredibly steep.”

Mr. Lett went on : “That’s an odd thing to say about a man who just won a landslide victory to become the new leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party. But thanks to a flurry of recent revelations about Kinew’s troubled life before he became a politician, this is no ordinary political narrative.”

Four days ago Steve Lambert at The Canadian Press had further explained how : “‘It’s a new day for the NDP and it’s a new day for Manitoba,’ Kinew declared to cheers following the vote.”

Yet : “Within minutes of Kinew’s victory, the governing [Manitoba provincial] Progressive Conservatives had a web site up that highlighted Kinew’s decade-old criminal convictions, charges of domestic violence that were stayed, and rap lyrics with offensive terms for women, gays and lesbians and others.”

At least much of all this has been known for a while, and Mr. Kinew has even made political capital out of confessing old sins, and demonstrating more recent reforms. (“‘I am not the man I was,’ Kinew told delegates before the vote with his wife, Lisa Monkman, by his side.”)

Wab Kinew and his father, the late Tobasonakwut Kinew, who “dedicated much of the latter part of his life to reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities across North America.”

Way back in March 2016  — before Wab Kinew had even won a Winnipeg seat in the Manitoba legislature for the New Democrats — Chinta Puxley at The Canadian Press was reporting that in his youth “Kinew had been part of a rap group called the Dead Indians.”

In more mature times  : “As he became a father and his political awareness grew, Kinew saw the contradiction in advocating for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and the misogyny and homophobia of hip-hop culture.”

There were (and still are) also many inside and outside Manitoba (including myself) who have very much wanted Wab Kinew to do well as the new leader of the Manitoba provincial New Democratic Party. He is an indigenous politician in Canada who wants to be a Canadian (and not just an indigenous) leader. And that could prove very helpful for the Canadian future, especially at this particular point in the life of the 1867 confederation, in the true north, strong and free.

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BC “NDP and Greens celebrate a stunning political power play” as ex-Liberal Darryl Plecas takes speaker’s job

Posted: September 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

BC “Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas is escorted from the speaker's corridor to the legislative assembly after being elected speaker of the legislature in Victoria on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Photograph By CHAD HIPOLITO, The Canadian Press.”

You may not care much about Premier John Horgan’s government’s “first update on BC budget” — like finance minister Carole James herself.  You may also be thinking, like us, that the intriguing new NDP-Green alliance in BC provincial politics still looks too insecure to be of much broader Canadian significance.

We can only say we have ourselves at least started to think again after digesting  headlines like : “MLA Darryl Plecas shocks Liberals by taking job as Speaker” ; and “Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas becomes new Speaker … BC Liberal interim leader Rich Coleman calls Plecas’ move a ‘betrayal’.”

Rob Shaw has explained the crux of all this in the Vancouver Sun: “The ultimate impact of the move could be to lengthen the life of the minority NDP government, and give the New Democrats the necessary breathing room to pass legislation. With a Liberal in the job, the NDP can pass legislation without having to rely on the Speaker to break tie votes, a risk it faced if it had to appoint a NDP MLA as Speaker.”

Or as Mike Smyth at The Province has noted : “Plecas stunned his former Liberal colleagues on Friday by accepting the $150,000-a-year Speaker’s job, a shocking move that effectively handed the governing NDP-Green alliance an expanded, three-seat majority in the legislature.”

What some of we BC politics novices back east (well … north of the Great Lakes) are still wondering is who is former Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas (who is now Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, but also a victim [?] of “BC Liberals remove Darryl Plecas from party”)?

And what does his action mean for the thesis that Canada’s Pacific Province is moving towards the Australian model of parliamentary democratic political party development — where, after various twists and turns, the Liberals wind up as the effective conservative party on the right?

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Saul Alinsky & the dangers of Antifa (+ happy 100 CP & walking away from NAFTA could be good for Canada too?)

Posted: September 3rd, 2017 | No Comments »

Yesterday down at the beach it almost seemed that the great storms down south were making  some of their way to the northern woods.

I had in any case already started this past Friday before Labour Day 2017 with brief notices from the east and west coasts of the impressive “too much geography” that is Canada today.

From The Guardian in Prince Edward Island on the Atlantic Ocean : “Front-row seat to history: National news agency The Canadian Press marks 100 years.” (And for somewhat more depth see also this more central Canadian article from late 2010 : “Major publishers invest in Canada’s oldest news agency … The owners of The Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and La Presse have invested in The Canadian Press.”)

And then from the Victoria Times Colonist on Vancouver Island this past Friday : “Opinion: Call Trump’s bluff, walk away from NAFTA.” (A thought that regularly occurs to me as well lately. It could actually be good for our northern North American economy … maybe? And for another central Canadian gloss on the attractions of multicultural Canada today see also, on You Tube : “Hot Girls Dancing Gangnam Style in a Toronto Supermarket.”)

Meanwhile, the more serious issue at the back of my mind lies somewhere in the middle of these late August 2017 headlines : “Unmasking the leftist Antifa movement” (Sara Ganim and Chris Welch, CNN) ; “Masked counterprotestors violently drive out right-wing demonstrators at Berkeley rally” (Toronto Star) ; “The Democratic silence on antifa is dangerous” (Chicago Tribune) ; and “Violent demonstrators in Berkeley are thugs, not activists (Los Angeles Times)”.

You can find a more sympathetic view of the “Antifa movement” in “‘They have no allegiance to liberal democracy’: an expert on antifa explains the group … Why a loose network of militant activists is confronting fascists.” This is an interview with Mark Bray, “a historian at Dartmouth College and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”

Mr. Bray himself opines : “Will a lot of people see antifa and their methods as a poor reflection of the left? Absolutely. But I also think that these are not people who were going to vote Democrat anyway. If you read the news … you know that Nancy Pelosi has nothing to do with antifa. This group loathes the Democratic Party, and they don’t hide that … So anyone who blames the Democrats for antifa is likely already disposed to vote Republican anyway.”

“Eugene Antifa” (in Oregon).

I am finally myself left with some passages from an article on the late great American “Anti-Fascist” radical democrat and community organizer Saul Alinsky (1909–1972) by my friend Frank Bunting, that first appeared on this site back in the fateful year 2010.

As Bunting explained then : “there was in Saul Alinsky’s concept of building ‘people’s organizations’ none of the ‘glorification of violence’ as a political ‘cleansing force’ that Maurice Cranston saw as a key feature of the New Left  … At one point [in an interview with Playboy] …  Alinsky was talking about organizing tactics that demonstrated all ‘the elements of good organization — imagination, legality, excitement and, above all, effectiveness.’ The Playboy interviewer jumped in with ‘And coercion …’  But Alinsky quickly came back: ‘No, not coercion —  popular pressure in the democratic tradition.’

Frank Bunting concluded with : “In Rules for Radicals Alinsky also stressed, as one recent friendly commentator has put it, ‘that people should not underestimate the room to manoeuvre in democratic systems.’ Alinsky’s community organizing, he urged himself, could only survive in democratic societies underpinned by a working rule of law. Adding the white middle-class mainstream in America to the black ghettoes and Latino barrios was the wave of his radical organizing future.”

Leaders from Lake County United peoples’ organization in Libertyville, Illinois, at meeting on selling 19 acres of local township property for affordable housing, July 2017.

An entire section of Marion K. Sanders’s minor classic of the mid 1960s , The Professional Radical: Conversations with Saul Alinsky (originally in Harper’s magazine), is entitled “The Making of an Anti-Fascist.” Alinsky wore what was once this 1930s-1940s political terminology with serious distinction.

Those who want to wear the same clothes today should take a tip from former US President Barack Obama, and study the legacies of America’s great radical democratic community organizing guru much more closely. That at least is what I think when I hear people like Mark Bray talk about “Anti-Fascism” in Donald Trump’s America of 2017. (O … and Happy Labour Day 2017 too!)

August for the people 2017 : two top 10 lists Canada & global village + CelebJihad.com

Posted: August 23rd, 2017 | No Comments »

At the beach ... where we should all be in August.

TORONTO. AUGUST 22, 2017. It has been a strange-weather summer in the city this year. Right now we’re waiting for yet more rain.

(I spoke too soon. It has just come. And now the question is : when will it come again? Can we go for coffee later, across from the park?)

Meanwhile, it is another what’s-it-all-about-Alfie day here in the office. I sit at my computer, looking out the window at green-leaf trees, a fire escape, tin roofs, and the parking lot next door.

I click on the Toronto Star website, to see what is happening in the alleged great world. My own top 10 current headlines turn out to be (in alphabetical order) :

(1) Boris Spremo, former Toronto Star photographer, dies at 81 ;

(2) Cornwall councillors seek answers as hundreds of Haitian refugee claimants arrive in Ontario ;

(3) ‘Don’t look!’ yells White House staffer as Trump looks at solar eclipse without glasses ;

Looking at solar eclipse without glasses.

(4) Ford, Chinese carmaker consider joining forces for electric cars ;

(5) George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Drake among the stars coming to TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] in September ;

(6) Incoming governor general Julie Payette drops fight to keep divorce records sealed ;

(7) Indian Muslim men can no longer instantly divorce their wives, top court rules ;

(8) Organized crime in the GTA is undergoing a power struggle, experts say ;

(9) People start hating their jobs at around age 35: survey ;

(10) Why Kathleen Wynne just won’t quit.

Then, somewhere in my internet travels, I bump into an intriguing site I am out-of-it enough not to know about already. It calls itself, in a clearly satirical mode, “the holy Islamic extremist gossip site CelebJihad.com.”

Whatever else, CelebJihad.com combines two things of great interest in the USA today (and/or  “the United States and Canada” too) :

Is this the real Kristen Stewart (or what about the rest of her supposed body, not shown here?)

(a) pornographic images of female celebrities, especially  from what CelebJihad.com calls “Zionist Hollywood” ;

(b) what some call “Islamic terrorists” and others call “jihadis” and the threats they pose to a more free and democratic (or at least peaceful) global village, or wherever else you choose to think you live.

I don’t want to go on here. And I certainly don’t want my wife and her friends thinking that I in any way endorse or recommend CelebJihad.com.

I’d just further note that : “The website started around … 2008, but it only came to the spotlight after it posted topless photos of singer Taylor Swift in 2011. Since then the site has managed to hog the attention with the help of fake photos and hoax articles.”

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Trump “unfit for command”(?), whales in Canadian waters, Brad Wall steps down, & “Our Lady of the Snows, 1911–1921”

Posted: August 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

Meeting of British empire’s Imperial War Cabinet, London, 1917. UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George is front row, fifth from left. Canadian PM Robert Borden is immediately to his right. Second from left, second row is the Maharaja of Bikaner, Ganga Singh, from India.

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. AUGUST 11, 2017. It is getting harder and harder for Canadians who watch US TV to know just what is going on in the American Republic led by President Donald Trump.

Rex Tillerson advises against losing sleep, with what looks like a smile. This may be the right worldly wisdom. But it is also hard not to at least sometimes wonder : Are millions of people actually going to have to die — likely including large enough numbers in and/or from North America — just to comfort the juvenile hearts and minds of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un?

Thoughts like this take wings when we learn from a Keith Olbermann tweet that, as reported in the Wall Street Journal : “Analysts are trying to work out what happens to markets in the event of an all-out nuclear war.” (Olbermann just says “All of them would die #Idiots.”)

Olbermann has also been tweeting : “This mentally unstable man must be removed … 25th Amendment … Impeachment … Any legal means to stop him … Mattis ignoring him.”

l–r : Canada PM Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, First Ministers’ Meeting, Ottawa, 2015.

This  reminds us of :“Brinkley: Trump is ‘unfit for command’ … Author and CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley [with a day job at Rice University in Houston, Texas] says the Trump White House is in ‘utter disarray’ and concludes that the president is ‘unfit for command.’ His message: ‘He thinks you can govern by chaos, and it’s not working.’”

Possibly at some other exotic extreme, in Canada our early August TV news reports that the “federal government is ordering large vessels to slow down in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as it tries to protect right whales who frequent the waters … Ten … have died in the gulf since early June … Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Transport Minister Marc Garneau were in Pointe-du-Chene, N.B., Friday to announce immediate temporary measures aimed at preventing further whale deaths.”

For political hardball, Saskatchewan’s once beloved premier Brad Wall has decided to step down. (“It has been and will always be the honour of my working life to serve as Premier of this Province that I love” ; “Stunning departure: Premier Wall announces his resignation.”)

See a Maclean’s article from this past June for deep background (Tammy Robert, “Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall problem.”) And note two helpful pieces on the CBC News site : Kendall Latimer on “Who will replace Brad Wall as Saskatchewan Party leader?” ; and  Éric Grenier on “Brad Wall’s departure highlights changing political landscape of Western Canada.”

“Justine Skye in white.” Compliments TierraAnyeaTv.

Talk about changing political landscapes also reminds us that we have just posted the latest installment of Randall White’s work-in-progress, Children of the Global Village — Canada in the 21st Century : Tales about the history that matters.

If you go to “Long Journey to a Canadian Republic” on the bar above (or just CLICK HERE), you will find a short introduction to this modern history of Canadian democracy, along with the “Prologue : too much geography.”

This is followed by links to the currently completed six chapters in Part I, four  chapters in Part II, and the first three chapters in Part III on the old Dominion of Canada. You will now find as well a link to Chapter 4 of PART III : THE DOMINION OF CANADA, 1867–1963, “Our Lady of the Snows, 1911–1921.”

Once more we caught up with Dr. White and his lovely business manager at the Tim Horton’s across from Kew Gardens in Toronto. He had a few quick thoughts on Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan, as well as Robert Borden as Canadian prime minister, in the second decade of the 20th century, which took in the First World War (in the days before nuclear weapons).

“Saskatchewan,” Dr. White remarked, “was the third most populous province in Canada, after Ontario and Quebec, from 1911 to 1941. Now it’s the sixth most populous province, after Ontario, Quebec, BC, Alberta, and Manitoba. Brad Wall was born in 1965. So you might say all this was before his time. But it was somehow still part of his political career. History can do strange things to politics, even when most people don’t know it.”

Who or what is really to blame for the dump President Trump has to live in?

Posted: August 2nd, 2017 | No Comments »

What a Trump White House could look like. Thanks to Catey Hill, MarketWatch.

I am not supposed to be doing this right now. I have allegedly more urgent work to attend to. But it is the middle of our short Canadian summer. And there is nothing quite like stealing time from more urgent work for a summer flight of fancy.

For my text see : “Did Donald Trump Call the White House ‘A Real Dump?’” ; “Trump reportedly described White House as a ‘real dump’” ; “Donald Trump Brands The White House ‘A Real Dump’” ; and “Report: Trump Tells Members Of His Golf Club The White House Is ‘A Real Dump’.”

All this was sharply brought to my attention this morning, almost as if it was somehow my fault. And there is a sense in which, if President Trump actually did call the US White House a dump or words to that effect, I think I can sort-of see what he means.

Marine Band performs on the South Lawn of the White House in 1921.

(Well … without in any way implying that there is anything on planet earth about which I agree with President Trump. Most people up here really liked President Obama. I was one of them.)

I base my own White-House-as-a-dump views largely on visits to US state legislatures back in the 1980s and 1990s — when my traveling companion and I had time for such things. And I should note we also toured Washington, DC during the same period (though I have never actually visited the White House inside, as it were).

Back from his own late 1950s and early 1960s visits, the American literary critic Edmund Wilson wrote that “Toronto [the Canadian city where I live today] also differs from the States, in spite of much Americanization, in preserving a British tradition of good order and capable handling.”

“In 1950, The White House was gutted of its interiors to undergo a massive restoration project set forth by President Truman. This painstaking process would eventually save the rapidly deteriorating building as it approached condemnation.”

My impression from my state legislature and Washington, DC tours of the 1980s and 1990s was that — perhaps in more of a “European” or even “Old World” legacy nowadays — public buildings in Canada are still typically better maintained than they are in the USA.

To me one crucial side of this just comes down to money, and especially tax dollars.

Canadians are at least somewhat more willing than Americans to spend money on government — including government buildings. (In 2015, eg, employment in general government as a percentage of total employment was 18.2% in Canada and only 15.3% in the USA.)

Moreover, as best as I can make out Donald Trump embraces the American political tradition that very aggressively demeans all forms of government activity as less worthy than virtually any form of private business enterprise — and less entitled to the economic resources that finally make the world go around.

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Top 12 late news extras as midsummer madness 2017 sets in : Oz Labor party will hold republic referendum etc, etc

Posted: July 31st, 2017 | No Comments »

Brownman Ali — one of the few serious “jazz” artists this or any year at the Beaches Jazz Festival in the east end of Toronto, where most who come to watch and listen seem to have a pretty good time anyway.

[UPDATED AUGUST 1]. The final “Streetfest” phase of the 29th annual Beaches International Jazz Festival is now over, and we’ve asked our wayward staff  to submit their favourite key current late news extras for post-festival tabulation. Without further ado :

(1) “Bill Shorten renews push for Australian republic, vows to hold referendum within first term of Labor government.” By Allyson Horn & Henry Belot : “Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has promised a national vote on Australia becoming a republic during the first term of a Labor Government … ‘One question — do you support an Australian republic with an Australian head of state? Yes or No?’ … Mr Shorten said if the result of the referendum was yes, it could mean a secondary vote to decide what form of republic Australia should become … The staunch republican previously said he had no plans to push for the republic until the Queen’s reign ends.”

(2) “Make Payette head of state” in Canada. In a letter published by the Toronto Star Ashok Charles, “executive director, Republic Now, Toronto,” writes : “The naming of Julie Payette as Canada’s next Governor General raises an important and timely question: Rather than being appointed as the representative of our head of state, shouldn’t she take over the top position? … let’s compare Payette’s credentials with those of Charles Windsor, the current front-runner set to become our next head of state if we don’t do anything about it … A clear-headed assessment, unskewed by habitual deference, makes Payette the winner of this contest, hands down.”

(And in the same place on the same day see also : “Happy 482nd birthday, Canada! … ‘Until the Quebec nation sees its recognition enshrined in the Constitution, federalist nationalists in Quebec will not forget that Canada, their Canada, also involves the history of Aboriginal people, French Canadians and Quebecers.’”)

(3) “The world according to Marshall McLuhan.” The Globe and Mail’s Mark Medley speaks with biographer Douglas Coupland “on why the culture and communications guru’s theories continue to resonate in 2017 — perhaps more than ever.”

We’d be happier hearing more about McLuhan’s “hick Baptist” inspiration Harold Innis (first Canadian president of the American Economic Association). But McLuhan can at least be a helpful entry drug.

(4) Kudos to the cw staff who tweeted “Midsummer madness has set in : ‘Conservatives say Trudeau’s Rolling Stone cover jeopardizes NAFTA talks’” this past week. For more on the August cover of Rolling Stone (whatever else, bound to win sneaking admiration or more from many we know) see : “Justin Trudeau lands on the cover of Rolling Stone” (Toronto Star — yes, again) ; and (as a kind of counterweight) “Justin Trudeau Rolling Stone Cover Is Brought To You By Desperate Times In America” (Huffington Post) —  “At a Canadian press conference, Rolling Stone witnessed Trudeau thanking reporters for the ‘essential’ role they play in a democracy … ‘Where are we? Narnia? Coachella recovery tent? 2009?’ Rodrick wrote. ‘We are in Ottawa, Ontario, a mere 560 miles from Washington, DC.’”

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Donald Trump’s 6-month approval rating isn’t that much lower than Bill Clinton’s

Posted: July 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

American people who probably didn’t vote for Donald Trump, but might have voted for Bill Clinton back in the day..

[UPDATED JULY 21]. “This may be the hottest day we’ve had this summer,” someone said in the parking lot. I don’t know myself. In any case that’s just up here — north of the lakes.

Contemplating the more southerly climate of la démocratie en Amérique, I’m still thinking about two world-wide web reports from this past Monday : Steve Benen’s “Trump sees his historically awful public standing as ‘not bad’” from the Rachel Maddow site ; and Harry Enten’s “Six Months In, Trump Is Historically Unpopular” from  Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com.

Both reports compare presidential approval ratings after six months in office since the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12, 1945.

Steve Benen’s work is based on “Washington Post/ABC News and Gallup Data.” Harry Enten uses “the FiveThirtyEight aggregate” (and if you are seriously wondering what this means try “How We’re Tracking Donald Trump’s Approval Ratings” by Nate Silver).

Because they use somewhat different configurations of polls, the two reports rank the “six-month-in popularity” of the 13 presidents since FDR somewhat differently. But they agree on the  key real-world results  :

* the four most popular presidents after six months in office are “Truman, Kennedy, Johnson,  Eisenhower” (Benen) or (in a slightly different order) “Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower” (Enten) ;

* the three least popular presidents at the same juncture are “Clinton, Ford, Trump” (Benen) or (in the same order) “Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Donald Trump” (Enten).

Two further propositions strike me as I ponder these reports at slightly greater length …

UPDATE JULY 21 : See also Jeffrey M. Jones at the Gallup organization on “Trump Sets New Low for Second-Quarter Job Approval.” (Which also shows President Trump not all that far away from President Clinton!)

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