The perpetual fascination with Robin Hood

The bawdy, brutal outlaw of the original ballads doesn’t fit with the noble figure of popular mid-20th-century presentations

The perpetual fascination with Robin HoodAs historical figures go, Robin Hood is a source of perpetual fascination. Mind you, I use the term “historical figure” very loosely because there’s no convincing evidence that he ever existed. Or at least not in anything resembling the legend we’re familiar with. While the earliest written stories date back to ballads printed in the…

The past isn’t a script set down in stone

Vandalizing public spaces under the delusion that such acts make yesterday a better today is sad-sack politics that fosters democratic weakness

The past isn’t a script set down in stoneFor her book Talking Stones: The Politics of Memorialization in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland, Elisabetta Viggiani mapped 157 publicly visible sites of Troubles commemoration in Belfast. Broken down, the city’s memorials alone offer a ratio of one wall plaque, garden, public tableau or statue for every 25 of the 4,000 or so people killed by the…

At 90, Thomas Sowell remains one of a kind

As a libertarian conservative, he’s a minority in the economics profession. Stir in the fact that he’s Black and you get a rare bird indeed

At 90, Thomas Sowell remains one of a kindThomas Sowell celebrated his 90th birthday this summer by publishing his 56th book. Entitled Charter Schools and Their Enemies, the book returns to one of his recurrent themes. He believes that the American public school system fails children from impoverished backgrounds by prioritizing the interests of teacher unions and their political sponsors. In Sowell’s reckoning,…

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failure

How great plans quickly descended into decades of dictatorship, corruption, kleptocracy and violence

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failureThe year 1960 was auspicious for European decolonization of Africa. In rapid succession, no fewer than 17 countries became independent. One of them was the Central African territory previously known as the Belgian Congo. June 30 was its magic date. And given its vast natural resources, some people had high hopes. Alas, things quickly turned…

Making sense of the world and ourselves in challenging times

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a book for these troubled times. It’s as beautiful as it is insightful

Making sense of the world and ourselves in challenging timesIt’s always good to rediscover an excellent book, especially in these times. I recently borrowed The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz from my local library to have an audio book to listen to when going for walks with my dog. What a treasure! Ruiz draws from his Indigenous heritage, teaching the ancient wisdom of…

Words matter, outcomes matter more

In modern society, we tend to casually toss around words like racism and genocide. We need to be more respectful of these words – and their horrible history

Words matter, outcomes matter moreIf you are an activist who wants to persuade your fellow citizens of the correctness of your views, the first thing you should do is take control of the English language. Change the meanings of words so your enemies can be accused of any crime and your side can always claim the moral high ground.…

A life of honour, tradition and service to others

The story of Mary John is one of perseverance and resilience, and should serve as an example to all who read it

A life of honour, tradition and service to othersOne of the benefits of teaching is that I get to make the final choice with regard to the books we study in class. With a greater emphasis on Indigenous content in the new British Columbia curriculum, I was drawn to Stoney Creek Woman, the story of Mary John. The Stoney Creek Reserve, today called…

The invaluable power of healthy skepticism

Usain Bolt became the fastest human being ever by eating – wait for it – Chicken McNuggets, not following the latest health care fad

The invaluable power of healthy skepticismKicking off her wonderful book from earlier this year, Christie Aschwanden asks a seven-word question that might help us recover some sanity for our hyper-affluent, marketing-mad society. “Do any of these products actually work?” Aschwanden asks in the introduction of Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn From the Strange…

Beaverbrook: A Canadian who liked to win

Relentless and focused, Max Aitken wasn’t squeamish about cutting corners to get what he wanted in business and politics

Beaverbrook: A Canadian who liked to winMax Aitken – widely known as Lord Beaverbrook – is the subject of a new biography by English author Charles Williams. Max Beaverbrook is a readable book on an interesting and controversial character, one whose balance of attributes is ambivalently encapsulated in the subtitle Not Quite a Gentleman. Aitken was born in Maple, Ont., in…

Anti-Alberta bigotry clothed in environmental clichés and platitudes

Anti-Alberta bigotry clothed in environmental clichés and platitudesDave Yager has spent nearly half a century in Alberta’s oil and natural gas industry and 40 years in journalism, notably with the oilfield trade magazine, The Roughneck. His first book, From Miracle to Menace: Alberta, A Carbon Story, combines his extensive experience in a well-written and fact-centred analysis of the economics, politics and history…
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