As a long-time student of politics, I often find myself wondering if Sweden simply has public policy basically figured out and everyone else is just screwing it up or governed by self-interested elites.

Would nearly all countries be better off imprisoning their politicians and high-level civil servants, bringing in some Swedish politicians and bureaucrats, and then having the newcomers exact sensible public policies across the board?

After finishing my PhD at U of T, the idea of moving to Sweden for at least 2-3 years has a lot of appeal at the moment.

Post-wedding brunch

This past weekend, I was in Midland for my cousin Marko’s wedding.

The official wedding photographers/videographers asserted their exclusive domain over the wedding and reception, preventing me from getting any shots there (and saving me 12+ hours of post-processing).

I did get some shots at the family brunch the next morning. Several of the photos are of my cousin Tamara’s son Mykyta, who I have photographed before.

Watching the aurora

Thanks to the intervention of my friend Amanda, I spent the weekend at my friend Sabrina’s cottage on Paugh Lake, near Barry’s Bay, Ontario.

I had high hopes for a clear view of the fading Perseid meteor shower on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night was overcast and raining, though it was still remarkable to be in a place where rain falling on roofs and water, along with animal noises, were the only things audible. I am not sure when I was last outside a major urban area, but there haven’t been many cases since I moved to Toronto.

Saturday gifted us with perfect astronomical viewing conditions: far from city lights, and untroubled by the moon. We didn’t see a lot of meteors, but the sky was so full of stars that it made identifying familiar constellations a challenge. Across the sky, the band of the Milky Way was clearly visible, wheeling above us as the night went on.

Experimenting with some long exposures with my Fuji X100S (and a stepladder and dishcloth as an improvised tripod) I was surprised to see that the vague light in the northern sky came out as brilliant colour when photographed at 1600 ISO with a 30″ exposure.

I ended up spending hours photographing the aurora. There will be high quality images soon (and animated GIF is a terribly low-quality format for something so beautiful), but I wanted to put something up right away that would show the movement of the lights.

You may need to click the thumbnail to see the animation:

Aurora Borealis from Paugh Lake, Ontario 1/3

Aurora Borealis from Paugh Lake, Ontario 2/3

Aurora Borealis from Paugh Lake, Ontario 3/3

Aside from reducing the resolution and converting them to GIF format, these images are straight from the camera, not manipulated with any sort of software.

CPSA conference 2015

There are a lot of interesting panels at this year’s Canadian Political Science Association conference, at the University of Ottawa.

I just finished a free lunch at the book launch for Patriation and its Consequences, alongside Peter Russell and Alan Cairns. This afternoon, I am attending panels on “Comparing Provinces: First Nations, the North and Provinces” and “Federalism and Public Policy” (chaired by Kathryn Harrison). Later, there’s the CPSA president’s address.

I’m starting tomorrow morning with “Jumping Over the Line: Case Studies of Academics as Activists”.

Before leaving for the conference, I submitted the final paper for my markets and justice course: Resource Inequality and Environmental Sustainability.

Blundstone #500 boots

Since the summer of 2011 – right before my bus trip to New Orleans and Washington D.C. – I have been wearing the same pair of Blundstone #500 boots. Buying brand new boots right before a trip was a big mistake, since stretching the side of each boot to accommodate my smallest toe was a long and surprisingly painful process. Despite mostly sitting still, the boots made that long bus ride very painful, and complicated walking about effectively in NOLA and Washington. Once about three weeks had passed, however, the boots proved very comfortable, functional, and versatile. I have worn them with suits at work and formal events, and with every type of clothing in conditions ranging from hot summer days to blizzards.

Now, after years of constant wear, the boots have holes in the leather sides (the leather itself still looks great after a bit of polishing). There is also an especially problematic hole in the rubber sole, right under the ball of my right foot. When the ground is even a bit wet, it acts as a suction device, rapidly drenching my sock.

As soon as I have some money in my bank account again, I intend to pick up another pair. Rather than trying to break them in through continuous wear, my plan is to wear the new boots 25% of the time at first, progressively increasing that figure until they are my main footwear.