“You’re the smartest in the room.”

Diana Henriques was the New York Times reporter who broke the Bernie Madoff story, the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. She said Madoff was different from even the most sophisticated con artist who would try to convince you they were the smartest person in the room. Madoff convinced you that you were the smartest in the room.


It seems Toronto has its own Bernie Madoff. Albert Rosenberg conned wives, banks, investors and the world for years. CBC Gem has a wonderful hour-long documentary on his story, written and directed by Barry Avrich. [CBC GEM is password-accessed but free]. Very worth watching, and a reminder that not all frauds are online.


Meanwhile, beyond the watering holes of Yorkville…


1. Teddy Roosevelt’s Explorer’s Club application. Note how he lists “Colonel of the Rough-Riders”, “Governor of the State of New York”, and “President of the United States” under  “Various Positions [held]…”


2. Getting forgetful in your old age? That’s nothing compared to forgetting most everything of when we were very young.


3. The colour of publishing  — and of fatwahs. Writing, making and selling books is still largely a white-on-white endeavour. Last week PEN America released its report on how that’s changing (not much) at a time when authors are defining moral urgency. As it notes: “Systemic change requires more than goodwill.”


Speaking of PEN and urgency, last week Hot Docs screened ‘Codename Sally’ as part of its Ageless International Film Festival,  a short documentary by Sturla Gunnarsson about Salman Rushdie’s surprise trip to Toronto in 1992 after the fatwa against him – and 30 years later an attempted murder that took place this August, at the Chautauqua Festival near Buffalo.


4. The cost of empire. Britain is not the last imperial power going through its death throes; so is Russia. Had it grown at the same pace as Canada from 1913, the year before World War I began, it would now have an economy the size of the US’s. Instead, because of its huge cost of empire, Russia’s economy is the size of Italy’s and shrinking fast.


5. A heart full of headstones. That’s the title of Sir Ian Rankin’s 30th and newest novel starring Edinburgh Detective Inspector John Rebus. Rankin will be speaking at Harbourfront on Monday, Nov. 7 at 7:30. Click here for tickets. He’ll be interviewed by Toronto author Linwood Barclay, no mean mysterian himself.


6. A big video for a tiny car. It’s the Microlino, half microcar, half fashion statement on wheels, and a sign of how our relationship with cars and roads is off the map.


7. How risky is Toronto real estate? By this account, Toronto has the greatest bubble risk of any city on earth.


8. Woke watch. Last year I reported on the British Medical Association’s guidance for doctors not to use the word “mother”,  but rather “pregnant person.” Now, Transport for London wants its staff to not use the word “accident” (replace with “collision”) or the phrase “post-World War II” (replace with “the late 1940s”) in order not to cause offence or emotional upset.


Despite all these trigger warnings, it seems they don’t work.


9. Elon Musk’s personality disorder. If he weren’t the world’s richest man, we’d look past his pro-Putin peace plan, his wanting to reduce Twitter’s workforce by 75%, his ceaseless histrionics. Speaking of ‘now you see it-now you don’t’, here are 20 more must-see optical illusions.


10. Why we like the music we like. As our friends from The Browser explain, “Susan Rogers, the psychologist who was previously Prince’s sound engineer, explains with dazzling brevity why some kinds of music are popular and some are not…”


On the subject of sound, UBC’s Karen Bakker has just written a stunning new book on The Sounds of Life — how digital listening technology is bringing us closer to the worlds of animals and plants. She joins her UBC colleague Suzanne Simard, whose book Finding the Mother Tree, is an international best-seller; and Lyndsie Bourgon, the National Geographic Explorer from Coldwater, BC, whose first book, Tree Thieves, won a rave review in the New York Times.




Robert Lepage not only defines innovation, he defies it.


No Canadian artist — no actor, writer, director or producer — has burst so many boundaries so often in so many places as our next RamsayTalks speaker.


To say the world is his stage downplays his effect on Covent Garden, the Met, Stratford, the National Arts Centre, Quebec City, the West End, Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian Opera Company, and of course many moving pictures on screens large and small.


And now, Robert Lepage will reveal where he’s headed next. One place is with ShowOne who earlier this year brought Toronto his stunning VR production of The Library at Night.


Date: Friday, November 11

Where: The Albany Club, 91 King Street East, Toronto

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET (Doors open at 7:30 a.m.)

Tickets: $65 + hst (Hot breakfast included)

Table of 10: $650 + hst


Click here for tickets.


Please pass this invitation on to like-minded friends and family.

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