Did you forget to remember that today is Remembrance Day?

It’s easy to do, especially in Canada where our military is starved  into invisibility and seems to have missed the gender revolution completely.

Sure, we may remember those who fought and died for us  on the 11th hour of this 11th day of this 11th month, but that memory will fade almost instantly for most of us. Even though two dangerous wars are now burning uncontrollably.

We shouldn’t forget so quickly or easily. Because millions of us have some direct family connection to our armed forces and hence, to war. My father fought in the Second World War, and my brother, in Korea. Yet I never think of myself as coming from a military family.

R.H. Thomson had 7 uncles die in the First World War. Seven. He spoke about the long, dread arm of memory that war holds on so many of us, and what he’s doing about it. First, he wrote a new book about war, memory and families – and the never-ending cost to those families. But back in 2018 he also transformed that deep and relentless loss into remembrance to mark the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The World Remembers is a visual projection of the names of the 4.2 million military personnel from both sides of the trenches who died in World War I. Thomson believes that naming something prevents you from hiding and forgetting it. Or forgetting them.

Those names are on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa,  and the work of The World Remembers grows today, collecting more names, creating more ways to display and honour them. Thomson’s greatest need is not names, however. It’s the funding to find and authenticate them from places whose record-keeping was not as up to snuff as it was in the British Empire.

So if you’re looking for a way to remember our dead a little longer, and you’re looking for a charity to support this Remembrance Week, go to


1. Truly useful How-to’s. First, how to track down your family, from Bellingcat, the masters of online research. Next, how to winter. Finally, how to believe two opposite things at the same time.

2. How bad is Canada’s healthcare? Not bad, actually. Like most of what Canadians do, it’s “pretty good.” The OECD’s latest report puts us in the middle of the pack of 38 high-income countries. They particularly praised our rising life expectancy and slowing deaths from lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes. In fact, Canada did better than average on three-quarters of the OECD’s health indicators.

3. Selling US military personnel secrets. You don’t have to be a spy to buy them. Anyone can do it online. Duke University released a study last week showing how.

Speaking of the US Military, oh for the good old days.

4. Bests and worsts. David Attenborough is 97. But his new nature documentary on BBC, Planet Earth III, is the best ever, especially with music by Hans Zimmer. And who won musicians in the Cleveland Orchestra its best pay deal? Plus, people with the most amazing skills. As for the worst, Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson is just weeks into his job and already he’s vying for the title of worst US Speaker ever. Finally, the world’s worst mom, who actually doesn’t seem that bad.

5. Who is Herminia Ibarra and how does she want to change your career? She’s the world’s leading expert on career transitions and ranked one of the top management thinkers in the world. She’s speaking online on Dec. 5th about reinventing yourself not by the insight of deciphering your past, but by what she calls ‘outsight.’

Speaking of unconventional thinking, here’s Morgan Housel on “Wild Minds”, or why “…people who think about the world in unique ways you like, almost certainly also think about the world in unique ways you won’t like.” Plus more things Morgan’s read lately.

6. Celebrations of life go pro. Funerals have morphed post-COVID into celebrations of life. And now Toronto event planner Jennifer Bassett is offering her skills in making sure that celebration, which may have been some nice words, a couple of the deceased’s favourite songs, and lots to wash it down with, is now a real show. Your show.

7. Can I take your picture? Facial recognition is creepier than ever. Plus the perils of long-term selfies.

8. Strange indexes to finger through. Back in the 1970s, The Whole Earth Catalog not only revolutionized publishing, but was the first big “how-to” environmental book. It spelled out exactly how we could lead a greener life, back when not throwing your Big Mac wrapper out the car window was taking a stand for the environment. Well, you can now thumb through those golden oldies.

Also, don’t miss the index of the most memorable people in world history, listed by country, date and occupation. And of course, the list of villains falling to their deaths in movies.

9. “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” That was Ambrose Bierce’s take on the world’s aging superpower. Here’s Bill Maher’s view on the war between Israel and Hamas.

10. Never forget, Yannick is a Canadian. The world’s most popular conductor by far these days was born in Montreal and still conducts his first orchestra, Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain while also leading the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York’s Metropolitan Opera, just the third person to do this in the Met’s 140-year history. Hear what’s behind Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s  smile.

11. What I’m liking. In the world of espio-libidinousness, John le Carré (David Cornwell) was in a secret world all his own. In 2015, Adam Sisman wrote the biography of le Carré, but left the tasty bits out until the world’s most enduring spy novelist died in 2020, age 89. Sisman’s new book, The Secret Life of John le Carré was published last month. As the author notes: “…his pursuit of women was a key to unlocking his fiction”… and his “extramarital adventures” – “required considerable organization, not to say tradecraft.”

Sisman reveals le Carré at his ever-betraying worst. For his best, here’s Alec Guinness playing George Smiley in the BBC’s adaption of Smiley’s People, in an interrogation scene for the ages.



 — Gandalf, Lord of the Rings.

On Monday, Dec. 4th from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. ET Jean and I are hosting an online webinar about two deeply fascinating trips to hidden places and magnetic people.

With us on the webinar will be the ‘expert’ on these trips, Andrea Mandel Campbell whose karibu adventures is leading them.

On Monday, Dec. 4th from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Jean and I are hosting an online webinar about two deeply fascinating trips to hidden places and magnetic people.

With us on the webinar will be the ‘expert’ on these trips, Andrea Mandel Campbell whose karibu adventures is leading them.

The first adventure is hiking in a hidden mountain valley and UNESCO Geopark and World Heritage Site in the Italian Alps from June 7 to 13, 2024.

The second adventure is kayaking and Indigenous exploration off North Vancouver Island from Aug. 23 to 29, 2024.

This past summer, Jean and I took 10 friends for a week in karibu’s wild, sublime North Vancouver Island. As I note in my 5-star TripAdvisor review: We signed on for a kayak trip; we got so much more.” Here’s what it was like.

Now, you can take this trip next August and bring your family and friends.

You can also join us in June in Italy’s Alta Valsesia, as close as you can come to your own private mountain valley. As the Globe and Mail raved: “…it’s so picture-perfect, I feel as if I’ve walked into a living museum filled with startlingly fresh mountain air.” Andrea’s family has lived in the valley for over 500 years, and it shows. We’ll hike high, but we’ll go deep, with a real insider’s exploration into the heart of a unique part of Italy’s rich culture. Speaking of hearts, we’re all of an age, so no points for going fast. Whatever your pace is the best pace of all.

karibu’s mission is clear and enticing: “For the active adventurers and nature-lovers who seek raw and real experiences in some of the world’s most spectacular wild places and hidden gems, and want to keep them that way through responsible and inclusive travel. Our carefully-curated destinations celebrate what makes life truly awesome.”

So if you could do with a heap of awesomeness, join us online on December 4th to learn more about these two transformative trips.

Just let us know we’ll see your shiny face on the Zoom screen by emailing me at We’ll send the link closer to the date.


Bob Ramsay

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