Writing

One of the many people who I have already met through this year’s Massey College orientation events is Toronto Star journalist Katie Daubs. I’m now reading her feature article Walking the Western Front, about two months spent walking through WWI battlefields in France and Belgium.

{ 0 comments }

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 […]

{ 1 comment }

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 […]

{ 1 comment }

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 […]

{ 0 comments }

The New York Times has published an exceptional long article by Scott Anderson about the history of the Middle East since 2003. It’s an ambitious text to have written, not a trivial task to read, and perhaps a suggestion that print journalism is enduring in its dedication to telling complicated stories, despite ongoing challenges to […]

{ 7 comments }

My PhD committee members probably feel like I have fallen off the face of the Earth. Seemingly decades ago, my hope was to have my thesis proposal submitted for approval by December 2015. Now, I am getting close to the point where I think the draft will be worth circulating to committee members and potential […]

{ 0 comments }

The main storytelling device in William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral is after-the-fact exposition (ATFE), which gives it the feeling of a mystery more than conventional science fiction. Rather than tell you in advance how a world or a technology works, Gibson shows you the results without context and provides the explanation later. This does well […]

{ 4 comments }

It’s strange that a stage show running in one city is affecting the whole continent, but New York isn’t a normal place and Lin-Manuel Miranda clearly isn’t a normal man. The killing in Orlando originally prompted my personal doctrine in response to political violence: refuse to be terrorized. One or a few people armed and […]

{ 5 comments }

I have written before about banned books. In this video, a contemporary author discusses the experience of having his novel banned for containing apparently mature content: His closer — about deferring to librarians to make such judgments – differs from the more common narrative that rejects such curation entirely.

{ 1 comment }

The Economist recently printed an article about free speech on university campuses in the U.S.. In particular, they contrast thedemands.org which they say “lists speech-curbing demands from students at 72 institutions” and the Chicago Statement which argues that “[c]oncerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as justification for closing off discussion of […]

{ 0 comments }