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Thoughts on Les Automatistes

by: Craig Stephen Copland

We know how Caesar conquered Gaul,
And how to whack a cricket ball;
Apart from this, our education
Lacks co-ordination.

– From Noel Coward’s The Stately Homes of England

In the spring of 1962 Mrs. Lazenby, the school librarian of Hilltop Senior Public School in Etobicoke, stood before the assembled grade seven classes and called out several names:

Randy Myers . . . Ted Meech . . . Bruce Whittlesea . . . Tom Thompson . . .

The she paused after calling Tom’s name and interjected, “Our very own famous artist.”
Her comment about Tom went well over the head of a distinctly non-artistic eleven year-old – me – who was a member of that grade seven class. But on return to the classroom our teacher, Mr.Kerr, asked if anyone knew what she had meant. A couple of my learned colleagues confirmed that Tom Thomson was a famous Canadian painter, part of the Group of Seven – which was not exactly correct, but in 1962 having such knowledge was still an impressive achievement among eleven year-olds.

Thus began my uncoordinated education about Canadian art.

Keep reading . . .

Some reflections on Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

by Craig Stephen Copland

Once upon a time, perhaps a few decades ago, let us imagine that Daddy Warbucks decided to invest one million dollars in shares of United Gold Holdings Inc. (UGH). He called his brokerage house, the venerable Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, and instructed his broker, Fred C. Dobbs, to go to Wall Street and spend one million to buy 10,000 shares of UGH, which were currently trading at one hundred dollars a share.

Read more . . .

Doubting Thomas

A review of Thomas Piketty’s Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century

by Craig Stephen Copland

Since its publication in English a couple of months back Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty has been the subject of countless reviews, debates, and interviews in the business and popular media and is the only doorstopper economics text to have conquered the bestseller lists in recent memory. Everyone who is anyone is pretending to have read it.

The liberal/left have fallen over themselves seeking to praise it. The conservative/right have been taking potshots at it. Paul Krugman hailed Professor Piketty in terms usually reserved for the next messiah, and the New York Times and New York Review of Books heaped buckets of praise upon his head. Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times were predictably more skeptical. But all conceded that the book was important. Regardless of your political persuasion it is a phenomenon too big to be ignored.

So I actually read it. And . . .

Taxpayers, Canadian Culture, and the CBC

by: Craig Stephen Copland

Recent media headlines are lamenting the latest disaster to befall the CBC. They got outbid for Hockey Night in Canada by Rodgers and will not only lose the audience but the $130 million in advertising revenue that it generated. So they are going to have to cut 630 jobs, much of their sports coverage, and endless other regional programming.

Predictably, the Harper-haters are crying that this is yet another assault on Canadian culture by the Neanderthals in power and predicting the death of Canadian music, poetry, theatre, performing arts, and all else that is good in Canada unless action is taken to “free the CBC.”

Keep reading . . .

In the public school system of Etobicoke in the 1950s and 1960s I learned my basic Canadian history. Except they left out one important chapter – The Mac-Paps.

What I should have been taught . . .

It won the Oscar for Best Picture. And well-deserved. It was an excellent film about a very serious topic. And there was something about it that really disappointed me.

Read my complaint . . .

February 12 was Darwin Day – the 205th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. So the Royal Ontario Museum held a special event evening with a lecture by Dr. Eugenie Scott, the recently retired founder and longstanding director of the National Center for Science and Education, and then a unique and delightful performance by Baba Brinkman, a “rap artist” with a Masters degree who delivered a thoroughly entertaining Rap Guide to Evolution. All in all, just a wonderful evening. But then I went home and started thinking about it, and a whole lot of questions came to mind which I sent back to Eugenie and Baba.

Read the fan mail . . .

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