That’s not how the snow’s lain round so far this year. Where are the snows of yesteryear? I remember growing up in Edmonton, we would walk 20 miles to school in December – in our bare feet. Okay, maybe not. But you can still plug in your car battery to a heater if you’re outside, and they still have “square tires” which freeze into an oblong overnight. Still, the existential crisis of our age is not called “global freezing”, is it?
But some winter traditions, like #1, will never die:
1. Surviving your family this Christmas. From the School of Life which says: “We shouldn’t expect total harmony. After all, no one knows how to annoy and upset us quite like our closest relations.”
2. “I am a candidate for the Presidential election.” Ultra right-wing candidate and intellectual Eric Zemmour produced a 10-minute campaign video that, according to a Paris-based journalist, is a “totally wild over-the-top rococo opera of greatness and resentment, that’s insane and hilarious and bizarre and beautiful and stirring and frightening all at once”. True, that.
3. Bill Bryson on the effect of kindness on medical treatment. As he notes in The Body, “an international team of researchers investigated common medical practices and found 146 in which a current standard practice either had no benefit at all or was inferior to the practice it replaced.”
4. How to be the best obituary writer in the world. An astounding tale about the quick and the dead in journalism and life.
5. It’s worth the drive to Kleinburg. Before January 16, you should take in the “Uninvited” show at the McMichael Collection. It has “more than 200 pieces of art by a generation of extraordinary women painters, photographers, weavers, bead workers and sculptors from a century ago” — who were working, often with no recognition, during the time of the Group of Seven. One more benefit, curated brilliantly by Sarah Milroy, of the power of art to shape our world – especially when we know it exists.
6. Fifty-two Things I Learned in 2021 — Reformed British journalist Tom Whitwell delves into the deep meaning of odd things to come up with this year’s list. Like? “10% of US electricity is generated from old Russian nuclear warheads”, and “Women’s relative earnings increase 4% when their manager becomes the father of a daughter, rather than a son.”
8. AI is killing us differently than we thought. This Atlantic piece shows not how machine learning could someday deaden independent thought and action, but how it actually, probably is.
9. No photos like old photos. Long ago reality in black and white, this latest batch from my pal Peter Sever shows the past can be just as compelling as the future – and much more predictable.
10. The best West Side Story of all – Stephen Spielberg’s remake has been on the screens for all of one day, and the reviews are ecstatic. But here’s a different version, the 90-minute documentary on the 1984 recording sessions with Kiri Te Kanawa (Maria), José Carreras (Tony), Tatiana Troyanos (Anita) and Kurt Ollmann (Riff), conducted by Leonard Bernstein. A fantastic view on how great music is made.
Forbidden Words. The word you may not use in polite company this week is grandfathered (among many others in this CBC list).