Richard Gwyn talks about his new book Nation Maker, the second volume about the life and times of Sir. John A. Macdonald covering the period from Confederation until his death in 1891.
Not that they likely give much thought to the matter, but I wonder how present-day “conservatives” regard Sir. John A. as a political figure, given his views differ so radically in many respects from that of his modern counterparts. Perhaps many of them don’t even realize that their ideological sentiments with respect to economics (especially those concerning our relationship with the United States) would have been a complete anathema to the “old man”…
Malcom Gladwell spins a fascinating story about the strange origins and ultimately twisted fate of a fabulously complicated yet practically hapless bomb-sighting device developed at extraordinary expense for the U.S. military in WWII.
Wael Ghonim, Google’s Head of Marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, speaking to CNN just shortly after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak…
“They convinced us for 30 years that Egypt had died, that there was no more Egypt. We were all looking for Egypt and thank God we found her today.”
Ghonim, an activist who helped launch the first online efforts calling for protests said that he had confidence that Egypt will not fall into dictatorship again: “Egypt will be a fully democratic state. You will be impressed.”
Certainly the revolution itself was impressive in every respect, so one hopes that the same qualities that enabled it achieve victory against all odds will carry through to the eventual realization of its democratic aspirations.
Stephen Fry and the “QI” panel examine the aforementioned question.
Although this common assertion is largely spurious, it’s still somewhat interesting to learn that many of the so-called “great men” of historical note were so diminutive, relatively speaking. For example, I was quite surprised that Admiral Nelson was only 5’ 4” tall.
For some inexplicable reason, I happily stumbled across Piers Brendon’s riveting book about the decline and fall of the British Empire this morning, so it seems appropriate to post clips each day from this provocative 2002 TWI/Carlton documentary about the same subject.
Here’s a great quote from the introduction where Brendon attempts to extricate himself from the inevitable connection to Gibbon and the unavoidable analogy the title of his book invites: “Rome was vast palimpsest of human experience, barely legible, hard to decipher, inveterately oracular.”
On a personal note, my parents were part of that wave of emigrants described in the film — something that for many years I resented deeply and still to this day have rather mixed feelings about.
Earlier this morning, I finished watching the last episode of The First World War, an excellent 10-part Channel 4 documentary made in 2003 based on the condensed version of Hew Strachan’s one volume survey of the same name. The series has captivated me absolutely for days now, bringing to life as it did the immensely complex scope of “The Great War” in much the same way the sprawling World at War series did for WWII or the epic Ken Burns PBS opus so vividly described the U.S. Civil War.
In this episode, the 20th century history of brainwashing and mind control is examined. The film looks at the way in which psychiatry pursued tabula rasa theories of the human mind — initially in order to set people free from traumatic memories and correct madness, then later as a potential instrument of manipulative social control.
The controversial experiments of Donald Ewen Cameron at McGill University from 1957-64 figure prominently, with particular reference to Cold War theories of Communist brainwashing and the search for so-called “hypnoprogammed” assassins (the proverbial “Manchurian Candidate”).
The title of this episode comes from the account of a paranoid schizophrenic who believed her neighbours were using her as a source of amusement by denying her any privacy, like a pet goldfish.
Maybe not the most appropriate thing to post on July 4th but it’s something that speaks to some uncomfortable truths about nationalism.
This 1993 film (from the creator of “The Power of Nightmares” amongst other things) deals with the ways in which history and memory have been manipulated by politicians; specifically in this instance by how collective memories of WWII were effectively rewritten during the Cold War period and how any attempt to rationalize the root causes of the Nazi regime had to be suppressed in favour of a simplistic portrayal of pure good against pure evil, even if it meant denying the essential horrors of war.
Tom Korski of the Hill Timesbeats the Executive Director of the Dominion Institute at its own daffy game of historical trivia.
Each Canada Day brings another frown from the Dominion Institute, the federally-funded agency that hectors the public for its inability to answer questions on historical facts. This year I decided to put the questions to them for a change.
“Who was Canada’s first Roman Catholic Prime Minister?” I asked Marc Chalifoux, the Institute’s 29-year old executive director, on the phone from Toronto. Chalifoux laughed. “Um, why are you asking me all these questions?” I sensed he was stalling for time. “I assume it is Wilfrid Laurier.” Wrong.
Second question: What did they call the Peace Tower in World War II? Chalifoux interrupted, “Can you put this in an email?” He’d stopped laughing at this point, and sounded peevish. I explained this was a telephone survey like the polls the Dominion Institute commissions. “I’d prefer you send me these questions by email,” he insisted.
Yes, we all test better when questions are submitted in writing, in advance. I marked “no response” on the Peace Tower question. It became apparent Chalifoux had grown weary of my exam.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! It’s about time someone turned the tables on these insufferably self-righteous, narrow-minded scolds.