The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling’s first non- Harry Potter book, received almost universally poor reviews, ranging from tepid to savage. Reviewers found the book too long for the subject matter, too slow, poorly paced. They thought the plot was a soap opera. They found the writing cliched, studied, heavy-handed. In a book full of characters, they found few noteworthy. As one reviewer put it: “Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd that “The Casual Vacancy” is not only disappointing — it’s dull.”
Backlash? Impossibly (Read more…)
This is the first in a series of reviews of youth (formerly called YA, or young-adult) novels, which I will be reading in no particular order and with no particular method. I love youth literature, and it’s simply a pleasure to read what I want once again, with no schoolwork hanging over my head. As with all my “what i’m reading” posts, if it seems that I like everything I read, it’s because I only write about books I enjoyed.
I finally read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’ve been intensely curious about this book since it was released (Read more…)
It’s Opening Day!
It’s always a long, cold winter for a baseball-only fan, but winters for Red Sox fans have been especially long and cold lately. When was the last time we saw a meaningful game? (Don’t answer that.) I lost interest ’round about July last season, unusual for me, but there’s something about losing every night that doesn’t inspire me to plan my life around the team’s schedule.
But that’s all behind us now. Spring is here, and with it, a fresh start, new hope, and who knows, maybe a half-decent, rebuilding kind of season for the Sox.
. . . → Read More: wmtc: what could baseball, sexual abuse, and pitbulls possibly have in common?
An enormous number of library-related stories cross my path, either through school or this blog. A few have stayed on my mind and seem worth fleshing out.
A San Antonio, Texas public library will become the first in the US (and possibly in the world) to go completely bookless – that is, its collection will have no paper books, only digital books.
Much has been written about the pros and cons of digital books, and without recapping all that here, I think it’s important to realize that there are both positives and negatives. The digital book, like all technology, is
. . . → Read More: wmtc: three library issues, part 1: the all-digital library
Right now there are no American women who were of reproductive age prior to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Yet reproductive rights in the US have never been more threatened. 2011 marked the passage of the most state-level restrictive abortion laws ever. 2012 saw the second-highest.
More than half of all US women of reproductive age (15–44) now live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights. Ten years ago, it was fewer than one-third.
The Guttmacher Institute has produced a series of infographics to illustrate the state of reproductive rights in the
. . . → Read More: wmtc: 40 years old and already irrelevant: happy birthday roe v wade
I’m re-running this, which I wrote for Socialist Worker Canada (now at a temporary site while a new website is being completed). If you are part of this struggle – or if you want to be part of it – and live in the GTA, please join us tomorrow night for Fighting Austerity in North America: Walmart Workers to Bill 115. Details below.
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Workers Doing It For Themselves: Food service workers in New York and Chicago unite to improve working conditions
One of the most exciting developments currently unfolding among the working class in North America
. . . → Read More: wmtc: workers doing it for themselves: fighting the austerity agenda in north america
At last, this is the fourth post of the talks I attended in November and December. Allan and I organized this in Mississauga, through the Mississauga “twig” of the IS. The talk was given by our friend and comrade John Bell.
The other recent talks: noah richler, u.s. war resisters, and the militarization of canadian culture, from greece to chicago to toronto, workers fighting back against austerity, and talking radical: a history of canada through the eyes of activists.
Allan is guest-posting this one.
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This past year, Conservative MP Paul Calandra hosted a
. . . → Read More: wmtc: a people’s history of the war of 1812
Of all the reasons for hope that we’ve seen in recent times – Wisconsin, the Occupy Movement, the Quebec students’ actions, the Chicago teachers’ strike – this trend gives me the most joy and the most hope. Here are three stories of non-unionized workers organizing themselves to change conditions in their own workplaces.
In September, New York City restaurant workers walked off the job and won a historic victory against their oppressive and vindictive employer. The restaurant workers who were fired and locked out of their store for organizing a union have won after a week of escalating protests outside
. . . → Read More: wmtc: more signs of life in the labour movement: non-union workers rising
Working my way backwards, this the second of four talks I attended that I’ll be reporting on.
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In November, I heard Nikos Loudos of the Socialist Workers Party in Greece (by Skype) and Canadian activist and organizer Carolyn Egan speak about the recent general strike in Europe, and the fight against austerity at home and abroad.
It was after 1:00 a.m. in Greece, but Nikos was full of energy. He reminded us, “I cannot complain, there are people who have bigger problems”. In Brussels, the Eurogroup was staying up all night discussing “the Greek
. . . → Read More: wmtc: from greece to chicago to toronto, workers fighting back against austerity
There are always at least two sides to every story. Long ago, in the American West, some pioneers and cowboys were killed by “Indians”. More recently, Iraqi “insurgents” have killed US soldiers. When I was growing up, Vietnamese “guerillas” – I believe… . . . → Read More: wmtc: greenwald on "both sides are wrong", hedges on the world as gaza
Revolutionary thought of the day: Initially, the Mincome program was conceived as a labour market experiment. The government wanted to know what would happen if everybody in town received a guaranteed income, and specifically, they wanted to know whether people would still work.
It turns out they did.
Only two segments of Dauphin’s labour force worked less as a result of Mincome – new mothers and teenagers. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies. And teenagers worked less because they weren’t under as much pressure to support their families.
. . . → Read More: wmtc: rtod: a town without poverty. it happened in canada.
All eyes will be on Chicago this weekend, as thousands of protesters from all over North American converge on the the NATO summit. The symbolism could not be more trenchant, as Chicago was the scene of protests and rebellion against an earlier US war, and famously out-of-control police violence.
Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and other veterans’ and peace groups will march under the banner of Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda, co-sponsored by a long list of peace and social justice organizations, including ADAPT, a radical
. . . → Read More: wmtc: the whole world is watching: veterans to return medals in nato/poverty protests this weekend
Conventional wisdom has it that healthy foods cost more than junk food, that buying and preparing nutritious food is more expensive than eating processed food. How many people bemoan the supposed fact that low-income people cannot afford to eat healthfully: “When carrots are less expensive than chips, then everyone will have access to a healthy diet.”
There’s only one problem with that. It’s wrong. Carrots are less expensive than chips. Brown rice and lentils is way cheaper than McDonald’s. I’m not talking about the difference between organic and conventionally grown produce, just the difference between processed foods or fast-food
. . . → Read More: wmtc: healthy eating costs more. fact or fiction?
Bravo to the hundreds of Canadian family doctors who protested the dismantling of the refugee health care system! There was a demonstration in Ottawa, occupations of MP’s offices in Winnipeg and Toronto, and press conferences in other cities. “I just cannot understand how my government can take the most vulnerable of people and decide it’s appropriate to make them more vulnerable,” said Dr. Paul Caulford, a Scarborough, Ont., family physician, who has worked with immigrants and refugees for decades.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney claims that refugee claimants have better health care than other Canadians – a lie – and
. . . → Read More: wmtc: canadian doctors protest cuts to refugee health care