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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Skepticism Too Easily Slides Into Cynicism

Years spent in the media, plus decades of independent practice as a writer and social critic honed my native skepticism into a protective psychological barrier against a wide range of social ailments and inappropriate, often dangerous beliefs. It has made me question motives, statements, logic and conclusions, and search for the underlying truths. It motivated me to explore, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The mote and the beam

“Hide witch hide, the good folks come to burn thee; Their keen enjoyment hid behind a Gothic mask of duty.” Jefferson Starship: Mau Mau (Blows Against the Empire, 1970) I was thinking about those lines recently. They seemed appropriate given the events in town since last spring. I was also thinking about what Gord Hume […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Cold Mountain Poems

I first became aware of the Tang dynasty poet, Han Shan, in the late 1960s, when I was engrossed in reading the poets of the earlier Beat generation. It was at that time that, through them, I started to discover and explore Western Buddhism – as it was adapted and represented through their experiences and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Lessons From the Campaign Trail

I always learn something new, something valuable from every municipal election campaign. I learn from talking to people, I learn from community meetings. I learn from comments and emails I receive. I learn from other candidates, too – there are often good ideas proposed that can be developed by council later. Each election campaign has been a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Cold War

I was reminded by an article on Slate that the (to me) iconic film of the Cold War, Fail Safe, was released fifty years ago this week. And as the article records, more people remember the satirical film, Dr. Strangelove than the more chilling drama, Fail Safe. Perhaps they have forgotten it, as they have […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: My Speech at the All-Candidates’ Meeting

Here’s the two-minute speech I gave Wednesday night at the Collingwood Legion, plus the wrap-up: In two minutes, I can’t list everything this council and staff have accomplished on your behalf. But here are some highlights: We answered your demand for more ice and water time. Parents no longer have to drive their kids to […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: On the hustings

I’ve been going door-to-door for the past few weeks in my campaign for re-election. Stumping on the hustings, as it’s called in Canada. Or at least that’s how I’ve always heard it used. Hustings is an odd, old word, an anachronism that survives, seemingly, only in the world of politics. It comes from the days […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: My Rogers’ Cable TV Speech

Each candidate was given three minutes to speak for a spot on Rogers Cable TV recently. Here is what I said (in about two minutes): Municipal politics is really quite simple. It’s all about people. Caring about the people you live and work with. Caring if seniors can afford their taxes. Caring if the sidewalk […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: My BIA ACM Speech

This is the speech I gave at the BIA-ACO all-candidates’ meeting, Wednesday evening. The question all candidates had to answer was, “What is your vision to ensure that Downtown Collingwood thrives as a vital economic and cultural part of our community?” We had two minutes to respond. Here’s what I said: For our downtown to […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Unexamined Life

“The unexamined life,” Socrates declared in his trial, “is not worth living.” His student, Plato, wrote down those words in his account of Socrates’ trial and death, in the book, Apology.* Socrates was speaking for himself and about the value of his life as a thinking person. He was on trial in 399 BCE for impiety – […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Emperor’s Handbook

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was considered the last of the “Five Good Emperors” of the Roman Empire. He lived 121-180 CE and died while on campaign in Germany. Like many Roman thinkers of his day, he followed the popular Stoic philosophy and his writing became an important document in the late Stoic phase of classical […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Treasure Trove

A recent trip to Toronto to see family and friends – and celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary – also netted me a treasure trove of books, thanks to the proximity of a new/used BMV bookstore to our hotel. And, of course, Susan’s patience while I browsed the shelves. Several times. I managed to find a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Classical music matters even more today

The official launch of the new Classical FM 102.9 radio station in Collingwood this past weekend reminded me of my own past history with classical music, but also why it matters so much to have classical music in our lives. And why we need to keep that cultural lifeline to our musical past alive and active. Classical […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Thirty years later…

In his book of aphorisms, Human, All Too Human, Friedrich Nietzsche described “marriage as a long conversation” like this: When entering a marriage, one should ask the question: do you think you will be able to have good conversations with this woman right into old age? Everything else in marriage transitory, but most of the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Testing a Homeplug-Powerline Network

I’ve had some wireless issues for quite some time now. There are dead spots in the house – a central wall has metal ducts and a gas fireplace, which are beside the laundry room with its metal-enclosed washer and dryer. About 5-6m of metal interfere with the wireless signal. The modem is attached to the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Dave Clark Five

We’re sitting on the front deck listening to British Sixties Radio, an internet radio station we like and listen to a lot, and they just played the Dave Clark Five doing Glad All Over. That song came out on the UK charts in January, 1964, reaching North America a bit later. Fifty years ago this […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Shock Top beers

Just tried two American beers from St. Louis: a Belgian White and Raspberry White, both in cans. The former has coriander, lime and lemon peel, the latter has, of course, raspberry flavour. I personally prefer the former, Susan the latter. I haven’t tried either with the slice of lime I put in most beers, but […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Montaigne’s library

I read yesterday that Montaigne had a library of 1,000 books, of which he was very proud. It was his retreat – the room he went to where he wanted to get away from things and write. Machiavelli, too, had a study with a small collection of books he treasured, albeit a much smaller selection. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Six years ago…

I received a notification last week from WordPress noting that I registered with them six years ago. Six years with their blogging platform… happy anniversary to me… what, no flowers? Party favours? Is this my modern life: email reminders from software companies? That got me thinking about dates and anniversaries. And in trying to recall them all, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Lore of Tea

Whoa! Down the rabbit hole I tumbled this week. I started reading about tea in several books I recently purchased. What a story. What a delight! Many hours spent between the pages absorbing culture, history, types, classifications, production, terroirs and marketing.* I’ve read bits and pieces about tea before; mostly history and cultural notes; some […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Lawrence in Arabia

I recall with some vividness seeing David Lean’s masterpiece film, Lawrence of Arabia, when it was first shown in Canadian theatres. I was 12 and utterly astounded by the movie. Not simply the great, sprawling, adventurous tale that meandered through 220 minutes (plus the intermission), but by the incredible scenery. It was a world totally alien […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Compassionate Buddha?

There’s a story in Valerie Roebuck’s translation of the Dhammapada (Penguin Classics, 2010, commentary on verse 6, p 115-116) that caught my eye recently, and it made me wonder what the moral or ethical precept was buried in it. And it makes me question what it says about the supposed compassion of the Buddha and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Cup of Dragon Well

Legend has it that, in the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong (1711-1799 CE), the grandson of the Emperor Kangxi, went on a holiday to the West Lake district, in the Hangzhou area of Zhejiang province, China. He stopped at the Hu Gong Temple, nestled under the Lion Peak Mountain (Shi Feng Shan). There, he was presented by […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Fifty Years Ago

In mid-August, 1964, a modest-budget, British black-and-white comedy movie hit the theatres. And instantly exploded to being the most popular film of the year. It was the Richard Lester flick, A Hard Day’s Night, starring the young Beatles in their debut on the silver screen. It was a paradigm changer in so many ways. It […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Hunting of the Snark

I’ve always wondered why Lewis Carroll’s wonderful poem, The Hunting of the Snark – an Agony in Eight Fits – has never been redone, rewritten in a modern version, with modern references and people. It seems to lend itself to revision, at least to my eyes. Perhaps it’s because this sort of whimsical, satirical poem is not […]