During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many New Orleanians fled to the Louisiana Superdome which was high and dry. They waited for help to come, and waited, and waited, and waited for the police, EMS, the National Guard. “When’s the cavalry coming?” they asked. The sad, tragic truth is, the cavalry never came.
Ottawans could be forgiven for feeling the same way. It’s not that the cavalry doesn’t exist. It’s that it doesn’t do anything, or hasn’t yet. Time will tell us why the police in so many cities across Canada didn’t act.
For now, I’ll rely on Samuel Johnson’s letter to Lord Chesterfield who had refused to help Johnson finance his Dictionary of the English Language, until it was nearly finished and Johnson didn’t need support: “Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground encumbers him with help?”
So now…this weekend’s Omnium-Gatherum.
1. How to launder your reputation. They say the internet remembers forever. Not true, if you can afford to dry clean your reputation by hiring someone like Eliminalia whose motto is “We erase your past. We help you build your future.” Here’s the story of the rise of an industry.
3. Beneath our feet. See the deepest man-made structures, from water pipes to gold mines. And the next time you cock an ear to the ground, listen to the sounds of the soil where “a handful of scientists have started to train their ears to the worms, grubs and roots underground. They were not prepared for what they heard.”
4. Fifty years of Doping Scandals – The case of 15-year-old Russian figure skater, Kamila Valiyeva, recalls those other Olympic doping scandals, including our own Ben Johnson in 1988 in Seoul. Here’s all the others.
5. The weird old book finder. Clive Thompson, the New York Times tech writer, usually talks about the future. But he has another love: the past, specifically a site he created that finds weird old books. It’s part of his goal to ‘rewild your attention.’ Try it.
6. You, too, can track Russian military vehicles on the move. This could come in handy in the coming weeks. Our friends at Bellingcat have written a guide for amateurs to use open-sources to track Russian license plates, and hence Russian military vehicles. Drivers, start your engines.
7. The art of saying ‘no’. Shaun Usher began his Letters of Note website in 2009. The letters are wonderful, like Harold Pinter’s reply to Tom Stoppard’s entreaty: “Thank you for your invitation to host a fundraising dinner in the private room of a top London restaurant. I would rather die.” It’s part of a blog series entitled I hate everybody, including you. Usher also created the Letters Live series, with actors like Gillian Anderson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Olivia Colman reading their favourite letters.
8. How situationally-aware are you? Not as in “What day is it?” or “What does he really want from me?” But bigger questions, universal questions, 34 of them. View your performance as a test of your earthly preparedness.
9. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! Problem: “This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it. It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Why is it unusual?” Solution: “E” is the most frequently used letter in the English language. But not a single “E” features in the paragraph above.
10. Who’s boosting the truckers from abroad? America? No, it’s Russia actually. Their state-owned RT television is way ahead even of Fox News.
On January 30th he conducted Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic at the Philharmonia in St. Petersburg, Russia. Here’s the full concert for you to enjoy. Oh, and then Mr. Mehta (whose son Mervon heads performing arts at the Royal Conservatory) flew to Montreal to do a benefit for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, which he first conducted at the age of 24. Then last week he conducted a concert at La Scala in Milan, and he’s now on his way to Israel for the first time since he ‘retired’ in 2019.
Please forward to a friend.