Books and literature

In a sad sign of the state of the publishing industry, I was recently contacted by a representative of the Oxford University Press Canada, asking for permission to use one of my photos from the first fossil fuel divestment march at U of T in a textbook on activism and social movements. When I responded […]

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A surprising oversight in Timothy Mitchell’s generally-insightful Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil is how he gives relatively little consideration to static versus mobile forms of fossil fuel consumption. He strongly emphasizes the production and transportation logistics of coal versus oil, but gives little consideration to special needs for fuels with high […]

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But Hillary still struggled with the question of whether she was running for Bill Clinton’s third term, Obama’s third term, or her own first term. “How do you take credit for eight years of Democratic progress but also get that things haven’t gone far enough?” said one aide who wrestled with the conundrum. “She hired […]

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Saying mainstream environmentalism now reflects the interests and concerns of the rich is like coming upon a river of spawning salmon and noting the colour red. There are naturally many shades of difference. Not all of the mainstream, everywhere, has to the same extent come to embrace markets, corporations, and technologies as solutions. Nor does […]

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My family in Vermont sent me Bill McKibben’s 2005 book (updated in 2014) as a Christmas gift. In it, he recounts a meandering trek through the Lake Champlain region of the Adirondacks. It’s part nature writing, partly an account of the history of the region and the ways his neighbours are tying to earn a […]

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I told the UN chief about my recent conversations with disgruntled tribesmen, and their complaints about the Afghan police behaving like robbers. “Yes, this is a case of bad governance,” Mr. Masadykov replied. “I can say now, when we’re talking about Taliban, maybe half of these so-called anti-government elements acting here in this area of […]

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Bruce Blair’s Strategic Command and Control: Redefining the Nuclear Threat (1985) effectively demolishes some of the core ideas in U.S. nuclear strategy. The book is largely focused on command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) and emphasizes how, while the U.S. raced ahead with developing vast numbers of nuclear weapon systems, it does not have a […]

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Staying at Oxford after my degree and often revisiting it in the late 1950s, I occasionally glimpsed W.H. Auden around town… He invited me to visit, and I would sometimes go to his apartment on St. Mark’s Place for tea. This was a very good time to see him, because by four o’clock he had […]

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Life has suddenly become exceptionally lonely. August is always a trying time in a PhD program. The lack of any real income since spring is naturally biting, and I have always had trouble dealing with the heat. There’s a breakdown of social structure and support, with no classes to teach or take, and friends and […]

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I have been listening to an audiobook of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s: Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. It’s full of interesting concepts and engaging writing. In one passage, Taleb describes the anxiety of the investor who feels the need to constantly check on how well an investment […]

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