Jesus Love

Jesus had two dads, and He turned out okay.

The Pride Parade is on Sunday, June 25. Toronto’s parade is one of the world’s largest, and oldest, founded in 1972, nine years before the infamous bath-house raids.

It wasn’t always a party. In 2001, the Rev. Brent Hawkes, then the senior pastor at Toronto’s Metropolitan Community Church, performed the first legal same-sex marriage in the world. He wore a bullet-proof vest. When he retired in 2017, he created Rainbow Faith and Freedom to combat the rising tide of anti-gay rhetoric and regimes around the world. Sadly, he was ahead of his time. Today, it’s illegal to be gay in 66 countries, and in 12 of them you can be executed.

This reminded me that Canada’s population crossed the  40 million mark last week. That was a bit like seeing all the new skyscrapers in downtown Toronto. Were they there last week? Really? We’re growing by leaps and bounds because Canada has opened the gates to immigrants. In 2021, we took in 1.1 million people from elsewhere (compare this to 1.5 million for America which has 10 times our population).

What does immigration have to do with being gay?

Hard to say, but if I were gay and deciding to start a new life far away, I’d likely choose a place where tolerance reigns. Maybe not excellence, or productivity, or chutzpah where America beats us cold. But as Wade Davis noted: “Canadians are the nice couple living above the meth lab.” And more and more, we’re the nice gay couple living above that same lab.


1. How MDMA transformed a white supremacist. Can drugs make you less of a racist? It seems so, though you have to want to change first. 

2. All true. Some ahhh-mazing inventions. Plus prevalent blood types around the world. Plus religious dating apps for Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Born-Again ChristiansAgnostics and Atheists – but not Hutterites. And, are you smart enough for The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational? 

3. The illusion of moral decline. It seems we’ve always believed we’re less honest, neighbourly and trustworthy today than in the past. That past generally dates back to the year we were born, and claims of our decline have been overwhelming since opinion polls began. But orange-haired political leaders aside, human goodness is not on the run.

4. Scenes from England 1918. Gone are the days of viewing the past through a glass darkly. Remastering old footage can now turn a flickering past into a shimmering present. See how here.

5. André Picard on Pot, Policy and Pandemics. My vote for the clearest-eyed account of the pandemic goes to André Picard, the health columnist for The Globe and Mail. He gave this year’s Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism; it’s worth giving a listen.

As for the next pandemic, AI is helping to track it, and a major player is BlueDot, the Toronto-based outbreak intelligence start-up. Led by infectious-disease physician, Dr. Kamran Khan,  BlueDot has grown by 475 percent since it sent an alert in 2020 about an emerging illness in Wuhan five days before the World Health Organization started tracking a “cluster of pneumonia cases” in the area.

6. Podcasts are peaking. This is great news for us; there are now 5 million podcasts (and 70 million episodes) out there aching to be heard. But it’s bad news for Spotify, whose 100 million listeners make it the most-used podcast platform on earth. This month they announced they’re pulling back on staff (200 of them) and partners and programs, including Harry and Meghan’s series Archetypes, which Spotify paid $20 million for, and was cancelled after just one season. But it didn’t take long to pierce the PR veil of chummy farewells between Spotify and the Royals. Days later, Spotify executive Bill Simmons called them The F-ing Grifters on his podcast.

7. The Gold Medal for Invective goes to… Britain’s House of Commons. Its report on Boris Johnson was clear and scathing. He’d lied repeatedly to Parliament. Johnson retorted  in kind. But then the Commons re-retorted.

8. AI will write your obituary. Not just in the fill-in-the-blanks way of “[name] passed away on [date] at [place],” though it can do that easy-peasy at a time when grief may overwhelm the simplest action. But in creating a more rounded, complete and ‘fair’ assessment of you and your life. Eli Frankel introduces ‘The Grieving Machines.’

Speaking of everlasting life, Paul McCartney announced that The Beatles are releasing The Last Record later this year  — with the help of AI.

9. The past is a foreign country.  Terrified of new tech? You are not alone. The Pessimists Archive jogs our memories about the hysteria and panic that often greets new ideas and technologies. One of those ideas is that the only way to live a long life is to be active. Perhaps not.

10. Out of tune. Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Appalachian Spring “have become so iconic and beloved that they are virtually theme music for American values.” Yet in the early 1950s, Copland and his work were accused of being Communist.

Off-key. No more stretching to reach that distant key. Just get a Stretto Piano. It can cut your practice time in half.

On-corp. Joni Mitchell, born in 1943 in Fort Macleod, Alberta,  is having a moment, including the concert of a lifetime.

11. What I’m liking. The chance to moderate The Empire Club’s annual Canada Day discussion. This year’s speakers are Dr. Samantha Nutt, founder and President of War Child Canada;  former Prime Minister Joe Clark; and Katheryn Winnick, actor and Ambassador to President Zelenskyy’s UNITED24 charity. It’s on Tuesday June 27th at 12 noon ET – online and free of charge. I get to moderate these three unique voices on what it means to be Canadian. Join us.





This is not a cruise, but a sail.

All we do is bask in the historic luxury of this unique ship and the tender expertise of Lindblad Expeditions.

So join Jean and me, next year from May 29 to June 5, on the sea from Nice to Amalfi.

For more information, click here.

Bob Ramsay

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