It’s Earth Day Again!

April 18, 2019

This weekend, we will celebrate Earth Day once again.  As has been the case since 2011, much of Vancouver’s celebration will take place on the Drive this Saturday.

Starting at about 1:00pm,  a procession will start at Broadway & Commercial and make its noisy and fun-filled way down to Grandview Park.

Hope you can join us!

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez

April 17, 2019

Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of the great writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Back in 2013 I wrote about the last book of his that I read:

This week’s book was the masterly novella called “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  It is a slim volume (just 117 pages) that I wolfed down in two return trips on the #20 bus to the library.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Written in the first person, Garcia Marquez tells the story of an unnamed 90-year old man, a writer of sorts who suddenly falls in love with a thirteen year old virgin whom he has procured from an ancient madame as a birthday present to himself.  His love is unrequited and unconsummated (his choice) but changes his world completely.

This is a remarkable paean to old age, to the process of ageing, to unexpected love, to music, to solitude and desire. It is the work of a true master of his craft and I loved it.

It is devastatingly sad to know that there will never be more books by this extraordinary artist.  However, with bated breath, I await the Netflix adaptation of One Hundred Years of Solitude.


Who Pays For Playgrounds?

April 14, 2019

On a number of occasions, I have written about hospital lotteries, wondering why the “urgently required” equipment or services are not paid for out of the health budget. I had the same sort of thoughts today when I read that Grandview Elementary School finally has the playground it has needed for a dozen years or more.

 

Don’t get me wrong — I am all in favour of this playground.  What I don’t get is why in one of the poorest districts in the city — and a district with less greenspace than just about anywhere — a group of residents had to spend a decade door-knocking in the community to raise “over $140,000” so that their kids could enjoy a playspace that I thought would be a natural part of any school environment.

We have a Provincial government which, while claiming to be NDP, is simply following the BC Liberals playbook, wasting out money on dams and LNG projects and private schools instead of spreading the tax dollars to where they are actually needed, like playgrounds for our kids.

 


Best Layman’s Overview of AI

April 10, 2019

The infographics that are the raison d’etre of Visual Capitalist rarely fail to please. And one of this week’s infographics, an overview of the history and potential of Artificial Intelligence, allows a layman like me to make some sense of something important that is going on around me.

I definitely learned a lot.


Capitalism = Inequality

April 9, 2019

 

“This is a truly staggering fact: Wall Street bonuses totaled $27.5 billion last year, which is 3 times more than the combined annual earnings of *all* American workers employed full-time at the federal minimum wage.” — Robert Reich.

That is a sentence that needs to be read over several times, really slowly, to let the meaning sink in.

I have written how I would deal with banks.

 

 


Drowning In Poutine

April 6, 2019

The seemingly irresistible onslaught of poutine into the mainstream marketplace is surely now complete: it is available in select IKEA stores across Canada.

Source: Daily Hive

Poutine is a dish that has not worked its magic on me. But then I like to eat some things that others would think odd, too. Vive la difference!


Mood and Emotion: The History of Blue

April 5, 2019

French historian Michel Pastoureau has written Blue: The History of a Color. The Claremont Review of Books published a review that describes the work as:

“an exhilarating and richly informing book on how the European peoples from the Iron Age until today have decorated themselves and their cultural artefacts with the color blue.”

Early Mediterranean civilizations had little use for blue:

Homer’s sea was “wine dark”; blue would not be used as water’s color until the seventeenth century .. [T]he Romans associated blue with the savage Celtae and Germani, who used the woad herb’s rich leaves for their blue pigments.

And this remained the state of affairs going into the Middle Ages.  However:

“Artisans employed by the mysterious twelfth century Abbot Suger of St. Dennis Abbey developed what would become known as “St. Denis Blue.” Its beauty inspired Christians to adopt it as fitting for heaven, nobility, and the Virgin Mary, who had traditionally been shown in dark clothes highlighting her suffering.”

Pastoureau’s book carries the history of blue (and often green and red and black, too) through the medieval period, the introduction  of indigo in the 1640s, of Prussian blue in the 1700s, the adoption of blue by the Romantics, the French Revolutionary militias, the Napoleonic army, Levi Strauss, and on into today.

“For Pastoureau, color schemes are the essential building blocks of our conceptualization of the world … The introduction of blue, yellow, and other colors in the Western palate reflected not simply a broadening of the easel, but a broadening of consciousness, which entertained increasingly new ideas.”

The effect of colour on culture and society is a fascinating subject and I can thoroughly recommend the review.

For related material, I wrote about the strange history of Prussian Blue some time ago.