Back in black… so to speak

Hey folks.  Back from Cuba.  A little tanned.  A little refreshed.  I started reading Tocqueville’s Democracy in America while on the beach.  This book is considered by some to be the best primer on American democracy.  While much of the book is very positive on the American model (hence it is widely quoted by authors and pundits) Tocqueville also is very critical of several aspects of the American system such as slavery and the all consuming quest for money making (seems that hasn’t changed).  He also worried about the potential of over time the aggregation of power to the federal government and ultimately the president but thought that strong local government, local civic volunteerism and local religious groups was mitigating that problem. 

I’ll likely blog in more detail about this soon.

Send along any topics you want discussed.

22 thoughts on “Back in black… so to speak

  1. I wrote a blog post the other day “Talking amongst ourselves in New Brunswick” which argues that our presence/identity in the rest of the country and the world is more or less non-existent. The question I end up with is this: we say “Be…in this place.” But how can someone be in a place when they don’t know what or where it is?

    It reads as if I’m saying we should use social media tools and that’s partly true. But my real point is that we do a terrible job of getting a message out and, even if we do, getting out a message others are interested in hearing. Shouldn’t we figure out what we want to say then get out there and say it? Money spent on communications is a waste not because communications don’t matter but because it’s done so badly.

  2. Good to see you back, but you might try something a little more ‘modern’-its been quite some time since de tocqueville. He didn’t even have any idea what was meant by a ‘corporation’ or a ‘military industrial complext’ let alone a ‘citizens initiative’. There were all kinds of prognosticators, however, in reality ‘democracy in america’ is far more vast and complicated that de tocqueville ever dreamed. And that doesn’t even get into the media.
    Youtube is invaluable for that, check out ‘the democracy school’ and watch some of their video’s, or some of the campaign literature of Mike Gravel, who ran for President. One city was threatened with a lawsuit because one of the candidates had campaigned against an industrial development-and won, and so the company claimed that this meant he was in ‘conflict of interest’ if he actually voted on the issue in council. He didn’t vote because of the huge cost a lawsuit would entail, THAT is an example of the current crisis in democracy in the US.
    It is true about the power invested in the federal government, but most of that has little to do with the actual structure of the government, but with the fact that its a two party duopoly whose congress is largely tied to wealthy (mainly corporate) donors. It’s no surprise the current president got most of his money from the financial sector-just look at how fast the money has been pouring into the banks.
    You might also try some reading on CANADIAN democracy, I’d recommend those by Patrick Boyer.

    As for Bill’s comments, we’ve had those discussions before, but the primary problem is who exactly ‘we’ is. There is also the question of ‘what we want to say’. There is LOTS being said by, say, BNB. Lowering corporate taxes says A LOT. There is also the point from a citizen’s point of view that says “who cares about our identity in the rest of the world”, and they’d have a point. Why do you really care if Korea has an idea about Canada or New Brunswick? One could even say its a bit lacking in self assurance-worrying about what other people think.

    As for the above, most companies wouldn’t even know the province is ‘officially bilingual’, probably don’t know-or care, that the country is either. Being in the same list as Switzerland and France amongst others is nothing to sneeze at, both are advanced industrial economies run much better than canada’s. I doubt few boardrooms have discussion settling on “OK, but what is that countries official languages….we don’t want that one!”.

  3. The Lady of the Lake
    Domain: Literature. Genre: Poem. Country: Scotland, Britain, Europe.

    Sir Walter Scott

    Article contributed by

    Susan Oliver, University of Salford

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    Works and Events 1810 – 1840

    Walter Scott’s third narrative poem, The Lady of the Lake, was published on 8th May 1810. The plot is geographically and culturally located on the Highland/Lowland border around Loch Katrine, the Trossachs and the Western Highlands of Perthshire, and in Stirling. Since the story involves James V of Scotland (1512-42) as a young adult, subsequent to his visits to France, the action is set in the mid or late 1530s. The Lady of the Lake therefore can be considered in some ways a sequel to Scott’s previous historical narrative poem Marmion (1808), which concluded with the Battle of Flodden (1513) at which James IV died. Scott had expressed his intention to work with a Highland setting at least five years before publication of The Lady of the Lake, and had deferred that plan at the time he composed Marmion, so a further sequential element is evident. As with Scott’s previous original poems, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and Marmion, The Lady of the Lake consists of six cantos each comprising verse paragraphs and occasional, interpolated songs. The basic rhyme and metrical schemes are octosyllabic couplets, which impart an easy-going and jaunty momentum to the narrative (see John Sutherland, The Life of Walter Scott, Blackwell, 1995, p. 144 for concise, contextualized comment on this metrical structure). Metrical variations throughout the poem occur in the ballad meters and song rhythms Scott used for the relevant interpolations. Scott states in his brief prefacing note that the action takes place over six days, with each canto covering a day. The framing verse paragraphs that began each canto of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, and which led into and out of the further historicized lay of that poem, along with the separate introductory epistles that prefaced each canto of Marmion, are dispensed with in The Lady of the Lake. Rather, the narrative structure in this later poem assumes the third person voice of the poet in an uninterrupted manner. A brief, opening invocation and concluding farewell to the “Harp of the North” constitute the only framing devices. Scott possibly was responding to public and private criticism of the lengthy interruptions that characterized each canto of Marmion.

    Scott was writing The Lady of the Lake in earnest by August 1809, inspired by visits that summer and earlier to Loch Katrine with his wife and young daughter. Tourism and the fashion for picturesque travel are more evident in this poem than in any Scott had previously written. The Trossachs were already a tourist destination, visited by other Romantic poets (for example, see Dorothy Wordsworth, Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland. Intro. and ed. Carol Walker. New Haven: Yale UP, 1997), but Scott’s poem ensured that the region wa

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    Published 29 August 2005

    Citation: Oliver, Susan. “The Lady of the Lake”. The Literary Encyclopedia. 29 August 2005.
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  4. Arts and Culture,Catholicism
    Is Angels & Demons anti-Catholic?

    “Angels & Demons,” the Dan Brown thriller, does not paint a particularly flattering picture of the Vatican — major elements of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy are depicted as secretive, violent, conspiratorial, and, of course, anti-science. But the novel is also obviously a work of fiction, by the same writer who brought us “The DaVinci Code.” So is it anti-Catholic?

    As the May 15 release date of the film approaches, William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has been vociferously critical of the story, even publishing a booklet attempting to debunk the book and film. But now comes Ron Howard, the director of the film, offering a forceful defense, at the Huffington Post.

    “Let me be clear: neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome. After all, in Angels & Demons, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?
    …But since Mr. Donohue has, in effect, smeared me by claiming I am smearing his Church, I want him to know this: I have respect for Catholics and their Church, and know they accomplish many good works throughout the world. And I believe Angels & Demons treats the Church with respect — even a degree of reverence — for its traditions and beliefs.”

    Donohue, not surprisingly, is firing back (the film’s publicists must be ecstatic):

    “Howard must be delusional if he thinks Vatican officials are going to like his propaganda—they denied him the right to film on their grounds. Moreover, we know from a Canadian priest who hung out with Howard’s crew last summer in Rome (dressed in civilian clothes) just how much they hate Catholicism. It’s time to stop the lies and come clean.”
    One interesting local angle: one of the most gruesome scenes in the book (depicted below in a still from the film) is set in Santa Maria della Vittoria, the titular church of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston. I talked with the cardinal back in 2006 about the book (which he had read) and the church. The cardinal called the book “outrageous” (the full blog post is here) but said this about the connection to his titular church, which has benefited from the controversy because “Angels & Demons” tours of Rome bring generous tourists to visit:

    “I think it’s silly,” he said. “But if it brings people to see the church, hopefully, being in a holy place, and in a place that is beautiful, hopefully it will be a religious experience for them. For us as Catholics, we believe that the beauty of the church, and the church music, is a way of lifting our minds to God’s beauty.”
    What do you think? Is Angels & Demons anti-Catholic? Or just a thriller?

    (Photos by Zade Rosenthal/Sony Pictures.)

  5. And to keep mikel informed.Needs all the help he can get.

    ‘Still Sun’ baffling astronomers

    The Sun is the dimmest it has been for nearly a century.

    There are no sunspots, very few solar flares – and our nearest star is the quietest it has been for a very long time.

    The observations are baffling astronomers, who are due to study new pictures of the Sun, taken from space, at the UK National Astronomy Meeting.

    The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity. At its peak, it has a tumultuous boiling atmosphere that spits out flares and planet-sized chunks of super-hot gas. This is followed by a calmer period.

    Last year, it was expected that it would have been hotting up after a quiet spell. But instead it hit a 50-year year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity.

    According to Prof Louise Hara of University College London, it is unclear why this is happening or when the Sun is likely to become more active again.

    “There’s no sign of us coming out of it yet,” she told BBC News.

    “At the moment, there are scientific papers coming out suggesting that we’ll be going into a normal period of activity soon.

    “Others are suggesting we’ll be going into another minimum period – this is a big scientific debate at the moment.”

    Sunspots could be seen by the Soho telescope in 2001 (l), but not this year (r)

    In the mid-17th Century, a quiet spell – known as the Maunder Minimum – lasted 70 years, and led to a “mini ice-age”.

    This has resulted in some people suggesting that a similar cooling might offset the impact of climate change.

    According to Prof Mike Lockwood of Southampton University, this view is too simplistic.

    “I wish the Sun was coming to our aid but, unfortunately, the data shows that is not the case,” he said.

    Prof Lockwood was one of the first researchers to show that the Sun’s activity has been gradually decreasing since 1985, yet overall global temperatures have continued to rise.

    “If you look carefully at the observations, it’s pretty clear that the underlying level of the Sun peaked at about 1985 and what we are seeing is a continuation of a downward trend (in solar activity) that’s been going on for a couple of decades.

    “If the Sun’s dimming were to have a cooling effect, we’d have seen it by now.”

    ‘Middle ground’

    Evidence from tree trunks and ice cores suggest that the Sun is calming down after an unusually high point in its activity.

    Professor Lockwood believes that as well as the Sun’s 11-year cycle, there is an underlying solar oscillation lasting hundreds of years.

    He suggests that 1985 marked the “grand maximum” in this long-term cycle and the Maunder Minimum marked its low point.

    “We are re-entering the middle ground after a period which has seen the Sun in its top 10% of activity,” said Professor Lockwood.

    “We would expect it to be more than a hundred years before we get down to the levels of the Maunder Minimum.”

    He added that the current slight dimming of the Sun is not going to reverse the rise in global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

    “What we are seeing is consistent with a global temperature rise, not that the Sun is coming to our aid.”

    Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows global average temperatures have risen by about 0.7C since the beginning of the 20th Century.

    And the IPCC projects that the world will continue to warm, with temperatures expected to rise between 1.8C and 4C by the end of the century.

    No-one knows how the centuries-long waxing and waning of the Sun works. However, astronomers now have space telescopes studying the Sun in detail.

    According to Prof Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire, this current quiet period gives astronomers a unique opportunity.

    “This is very exciting because as astronomers we’ve never seen anything like this before in our lifetimes,” he said.

    “We have spacecraft up there to study the Sun in phenomenal detail. With these telescopes we can study this minimum of activity in a way that we could not have done so in the past.”

  6. A little sidetracked I see. Don’t know what the first comment is about, but as for ‘dimming the sun’ I’d recommend people download the documentary ‘dimming the sun’, which is along the lines of the above. Sunspots are a contentious issue, but so are the claims of “…led to a global ice age”. LOTS of things have been said to lead to a global ice age. Recently heard a doc where oceanographers were talking about the acidification of the oceans, and apparantly THAT ‘led’ to one of earth’s largest mass extinctions, and is currently happening in our oceans. But in science its easy to identify a ’cause’, its harder to prove that that led to any specific effect (where usually multiple causes interact).

  7. I was accused by this host of a dirty maneuver that anybody would know wasn’t this boy, and I am royally ticked, but am controlling myself and sleeping on it. The reason for the attempt to flood, but i holding off.

    Anyhow did you read of the action of the sun particles creating heat as they hit our atmosphere. There are sure a lot of T’s to cross in the science of the earth. But we don’t seem to have any of the caliber of the 17th and 18th century thinkers.

  8. By, I might add, a person, who garners a few days to Cuba, for some reason, arrives, walks to the beach, sits down, digs out a book that sounds like it would sound good in a blog, a book about slavery in America!!!, not exactly a recent bit of History I’d say, considering this great Nation fought a Civil war over ending that unsavory practice, before Canada did! Anyhow sits down and reads a book? Then flys home, and asks me, if I want to know anything about Cuba!!
    Well, having a son, who a month ago returned from a vacation in Dominican Republic, another from a conference in Chicago, and a Daughter just now on a conference in Washington DC, you can rest assured they wouldn’t dare tell me they spent the time reading some sophisticated sounding french name book. No they are able to give me that information, I would be interested in, already having read 100’s of books on American History! Yes like the Guards around their Hotel alert and ready with , a fancy name item, like a Kalashnikov! Much more interesting than a guy who apparently wears a Tocqueville!
    And then our Host decides it is I, who committed assault on his Privacy? Are we talking about a very bright bulb here?

  9. “Much more interesting than a guy who apparently wears a Tocqueville!”

    Then why spend so much time here, if the blog isn’t very interesting?

  10. Mikel … I’ve thought that too. If we don’t care what others think, that’s fine. But you can’t have the self-assurance of that stance on one hand and on the other be saying we need to bring people (young people, immigrants) to the province. At least as far as Canada goes, all most people hear is snowstorms and floods. And that isn’t terribly enticing.

  11. Simple, trying to find a blog where interesting intelligent New Brunswickers post their opinions without the age old suckup types of people found in NB now. Unfortunately, you are typical of the posters on here, except Mikel, the rest are suckin up to David and too scared to have a view different from the status quo. You might notice that no one spends much time on here, and before me, there were less than that. Probably afraid you might spell a word

  12. Let’s have a little exercise in democracy. How many people want me to allow anonymous here (by the way, I know your IP and location so I can tell when it’s you) to keep posting as long as the foul language and personal attacks are kept to a minimum? I don’t know how many people even read these threads – I think most just stop when they see this type of post but let’s give it a try. I’ll do the will of the masses.

  13. Too bad you have taken the wrong attitude, but I think you know no other. You think you are informing ME that you know my IP and location?? When most astute people know, your IP goes with every send click!!! Most people know that little dumb you cannot block a poster without using password access, combined with checking every post before posting it! You accused me of calling your home phone. This can easily be verified, so why not do it? Or you always going to be a little wimp liar. You can’t handle your blog, unless a poster sucks to you, so you should follow spinks and recognize your out of your league, and cannot secure your blog so that only your low intelligent level posters can be congregated together. Until you now let us know WHO phoned your home by proof, instead of picking your choice, you are nothing but a loser liar. exactly like your mckenna idol.

  14. Except for language and personal attacks, I’d go with the democratic approach. I rarely read them anyway. I usually just skip to the next comment in the thread.

    I’ll say this though, it makes Twitter’s 140 character limit attractive. 🙂

  15. I’m sorry, but your opinion doesn’t count, and a person who joins whatever twitter or facebook is, would be suspect anyway, i think.

    See, try to understand. The internet is wide open to everybody. Just take this point, No one can stop the downloading of files, music, movies, etc. And we are talking billions! And some little twerp is going to stop somebody posting on a open blog owned by no one? NBer’s among others, must learn, that what pappy told you is not necessarily correct, or that your social daily twitter is not necessarily correct, comforting but not necessarily correct. But what I post is. Or if it isn’t ,prove it. The facts are on your computer. That is called intelligence and knowledgeable. And one wonders why NB has not moved in 40 years.
    You see, I wonder what the 140 character limit has to do with anything? Are two posts not 280 characters? If I had hired you for a solution, and that was your solution, you would be fired, understand?

  16. I don’t mind off topic, but calling people names and insulting them is definitely a problem. It’s one thing to disagree, even disagree strongly, but if a person can’t post without calling every person who disagrees with them a loser or twerp or what have you, then that’s a problem. Who would want to post a comment at a place like that? This is a private blog, this isn’t run by the government or anything else, comments are here at the deference of the owner.

    I’d opt for how the blog was run in the past, if David has the time. People write a comment, then the moderator decides whether its appropriate or not. People may not like that, but again, this is not ‘the internet’ per se, this is a blog under the control of somebody who has the right to limit comments or even ban them. I’ve been on this blog practically since it began, and there were lots of debates long ago. Commentors tend to come and go, but readers are different. David gets links from his articles in the mainstream press, so really doesn’t need the comments at all.

    A persons ‘opinion’ isn’t right or wrong, it just is. They are often based on facts that can be right or wrong, and if their actions stem from their opinions (most don’t) then that is a political question. An opinion should be respected, even if the facts that form them are challenged. There are very strict rules for debate, it should never be personal, and people should feel ‘free’ to post their opinion without fear that they will be called names-that’s immature and does nobody any good.
    A good rule of thumb (which I don’t always follow) is this: “Be nice…or DONT ‘be in this place'”. A personal blog is like somebody’s house-you be polite and respectful, or you get the hell out.

    For Bill, those are two different issues. The GOVERNMENT wants more immigrants, investment, etc., not necessarily the people. If you live in a rural area you might well LIKE it that way. IF people were so worked up about their children leaving, it would be represented in the political arena somehow.

    The province obviously doesn’t go out of its way looking for immigrants, they are WAY behind most provinces. This is partly because the business sector does that just fine. When Irving wanted more workers for the Gas Terminal, they went and found them. When they were worried about a labour shortage, they started advertising in Alberta.

    The government ‘hypes’ for investment. And for that you deal with policy. No companies out there invest or locate on the basis of ‘hype’, they look at policy-how much it will cost them to do business there. The NB government even does that quite poorly, but again, that’s because of a political disconnect. Like most countries, governments here don’t represent the will of the people except on very fringe issues.

    What the government ‘runs’ is what the central interests want. So you see a government lowering taxes at a time when a great depression may be looming, and the feds are cutting transfer payments again. Cutting corporate income tax at a time when virtually NO corporations are ‘investing’, relocating, or moving, is obviously aimed at the corporations already IN the province-banks, insurance companies, IRving, McCain. They already pay very little tax in proportion to the size of the budget.

    Sorry thats so long, a lot of issues,and complicated ones at that.

  17. “be polite and respectful, or you get the hell out.”

    How quaint, and how 1960’s. The musings of someone who has been vilified the most, for his biased unfounded weird views, would want censorship. We know that.

    You neglect to mention what started this? Besides the ongoing simmering of posters who post with inaccurate information and who get set straight by my ability with google aided by the number of books I have read. Well believe me, when someone accuses you,out of the blue, for what I already mention several times slipping in one ear and out the other like the numb sensitive bunch you always been, you won’t like it too good. But I knew what this guy was like when I first hit this blog. Someone so without it that even mckenna left him behind.

    Well the die been cast, by specious innuendos, by someone to cowardly to retract so I will step up my insults to anyone who tries to post bull, when the correct information is easily accessible.
    Again, your opinion, or vote has no value, when there can be no action to take. Again its because your knowledge of computers and internet is as limited as any other subject you venture into. I am just thankful that I am not in that category.

  18. Interesting to read into the different personalities though. In case you don’t know, you all leave an identifiable footprint.
    Notice Bill was the only one who used intelligence. I get absolutely delighted when seeing someone with intelligence,
    even if they drive me through the floor. I went to his site and it seemed consistent. The majority of you would be shamed by Charles Leblanc, who actually shows considerable smarts.

  19. Sounds like a lot of nothing about nothing.

    I enjoy commenting on Charles’ blog because he’s got about a dozen topics per day and a fairly active readership.

    Mr. Campbell’s obvious yet seemingly unconscious corporate lackey spin makes commenting on his posts pretty tempting… Had his policy on comments been more lenient back in the day (see links below), I might have been commenting more here. Now I see the above rhetoric by Anonymous Coward is way less cogent and much more degrading than what I was saying here:

    When did you stop censoring things that didn’t match your model?

    (Oh, and congratulations for having the cojones if you continue doing it).

    Many economists need to be listening more to the other side of the coin these days, rather than trying to come up with new twists for a dead-end street.

  20. Sorry, missed the right link for that old post – those comments were posted back in the day.

    That being said, I’m pretty sure not all of my ‘Bolshevik’ ramblings made it into the comments here back in the day.

  21. lol dan fitzgerald, he’s no coward. He just anonymous, according to the number of posts he gets,lol.
    David posted me, you see, because I drew in comments. You, I’d say, need a catalyst. If your unattractive on your own. Yes I gave you the shaft more than once on Charles’s blog. You have no staying power, which is smart of you , considering you have no knowledge. What bunch of NB Dorks. No wonder Eric Kierans moved back to Quebec. He thought the people here were quite the yokels. You see why? Well if this is the brightest there is, there will be no energy hub with the U.S

    “I enjoy commenting on Charles’ blog because he’s got about a dozen topics per day and a fairly active readership.”
    And whom do you think keeps his blog active??? Surprise!!! lolololol

  22. @David Campbell
    Agreed that most, including myself skip the ramblings of an attention-starved poster with little to offer this discusion intended to focus attention on economic development in New Brunswick, however, it is a distraction and I am afraid a lot of readers may simply give up to avoid being exposed to the kindergarden playground antics. I’d block irelevaant posts.

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