A direct call on a pocket phone from 100 years ago

Cartoonist W.K. Haselden was known for making bold predictions, including some that are eerily accurate

A direct call on a pocket phone from 100 years agoCan people see into the future and predict what’s about to come? Most of us recognize that the answer is, sadly, an emphatic “No.” Nevertheless, our society has long been fascinated with religious and non-religious prophets, seers and others making predictions. Several works – including the seventh-century Chinese book Tui bei tu, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s…

Why all Canadians should be monarchists

Queen Elizabeth represents continuity with the past, including the best developments in Canadian history

Why all Canadians should be monarchistsWith the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation upon us, this is a useful opportunity to ponder the monarchy in Canada. Some will assert that the concept of royalty was long ago outmoded. Others oppose what Queen Elizabeth II represents – colonialism and the British Empire. It can also be argued that with an ever…

Catholic Ireland’s conflicted interest in the monarchy

Dublin cinemas planned to screen the Queen's coronation but opted not to after receiving threats

Catholic Ireland’s conflicted interest in the monarchyNews stories about Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee put me in mind of a book by Irish author Mary Kenny. Called Crown and Shamrock, it’s described by historian Roy Foster as a “characteristically breezy, racy and insightful” look at a complicated relationship. Kenny is five months older than I am and what she writes of Ireland…

How to maximize the meaning in our lives

There’s nothing more significant than living with meaning

How to maximize the meaning in our livesThere’s nothing more significant than living with meaning. This is the concept pondered by the Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl as he struggled to remain alive for three years in Nazi concentration camps. Frankl established the groundwork for his psychological theory on the importance of finding meaning in life before he was sent to Auschwitz. He…

War and brutality go hand in hand

Combat naturally leads to behaviours that would be deemed shocking in normal life

War and brutality go hand in handAntony Beevor is a prolific English military historian, most famous for the bestseller Stalingrad. First published in the late 1990s, the book’s narrative covers the period between the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union and the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad in February 1943. That battle is often described as the Second…

Wheat makes the world go round

Wheat is one of the world’s staple crops. And Ukraine and Russia are critical exporters

Wheat makes the world go roundFor American academic Scott Reynolds Nelson, the timing was fortuitous. His Oceans of Grain came to market coincident with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And as Nelson’s thesis revolves around the critical role wheat has played in history, the invasion’s implications for supply disruption add to the book’s topicality. For sure, Nelson may egg the pudding.…

Irish lead the way in the push to decolonize

Language and culture played a big role in helping the Irish survive and fueled their cultural renaissance

Irish lead the way in the push to decolonizeDecolonization is a word we often hear in Canada. In essence, it means to remove the colonial. That can mean different things to different people, and misconceptions often cause fear. Perhaps finding a relatively successful example of decolonization in process can help us understand the concept. Ireland was one of the first countries colonized by…

A love letter from Canadian LGBQT artist to the Queen 

She led me to the intersection of the many roads I could walk, in a bigger world with room for us all

A love letter from Canadian LGBQT artist to the Queen I began my life in Nova Scotia, the most British of Canadian provinces. As a young boy in the 1960s who preferred pink over blue, there was an enormous sense of not belonging, of living in a world that had not yet carved out a place for a child like me. In the accepted definition…

Will Ukraine’s fate be the same as that of 1940s Finland?

Finland was truly alone. That’s not the case with Ukraine today

Will Ukraine’s fate be the same as that of 1940s Finland?Bordered by Russia to the east and Sweden to the northwest, Finland’s historical experience has been coloured by the existence of these more powerful neighbours. In fact, ‘dominated’ might be more apt. After being effectively part of Sweden for centuries, Finland was ceded to the Russian Empire in 1809. But when the chaos surrounding the…

The benefits of mediation over offence-based legal judgments

Studying the history of law in Iran might help point the way to improving legal systems in the West

The benefits of mediation over offence-based legal judgmentsYou might be tempted to think Jairan Gahan’s interest in the legal history of sex in Iran is purely academic. She is most fascinated by the early 20th century, following Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1906, when the country was drafting its criminal code. How could that possibly be relevant to life in the modern state, especially…