The Power of Symbolism

The Globe And Mail for September 28, 2005
The Globe And Mail for September 28, 2005

There’s some good news from Canada today in the form of the swearing in of its 27th Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean. Her appointment appears to have struck a chord with many Canadians, whose vision for their country’s future includes many of the principles and values personified by this new head of state.

The following excerpt comes from John Ibbitson’s column on the front page of today’s Globe And Mail (The remarkable new Governor-General):

Canadians seem to be celebrating this appointment as though it really mattered, as though the Governor-General were something other than merely the Queen’s representative, the titular commander of the armed forces, a cutter of ribbons and a deliverer of clichéd speeches whose powers are held mostly in reserve. Why?

In part it is because she is not a politician. Her job, by definition, is to remain above the gritty, grubby business of governing this messy federation.

But there’s more to it. Not since the 1960s have our political leaders seemed so irrelevant, so disconnected. Then, it was a society of youth seeking to demolish outdated moral and social strictures. Today it is a society of immigrants seeking to create the world’s most cosmopolitan society. Then they turned to Pierre Trudeau. Today they turn to . . ..

There is no one to turn to.

But here is this beautiful young Canadian of Haitian birth, with a smile that makes you catch your breath, with a bemused older husband by her side, and a daughter who literally personifies our future, and you look at them and you think: Yes, this is our great achievement, this is the Canada that Canada wants to be.

And suddenly, the arguments of the nationalists and the sovereigntists and the fire-wallists, of the alienated and resentful and estranged, are so tired, so yesterday, that you just don’t want to have to listen to them any more.

Yes, indeed. French and English stop your quarreling. It just doesn’t matter any more.

Guardian radio?

Yesterday provided yet more evidence that the internet is transforming the media. In this case The Guardian newspaper is behaving like a radio broadcaster. Yesterday’s entry on its Conference Blog (New Labour is really a post-Thatcherite party) contains a link to an audio interview with Tony Benn at this week’s Labour Party conference in Brighton. So if you haven’t time to read the paper, you may find it more convenient to listen to it instead!

Think Canadian

Do you remember Apple’s television advertising campaign commonly referred to as Switch from a few years ago? There are a number of parodies floating around the internet, at least one of which (starring Will Ferrell) is still available online (Careful – it’s 4.1 Meg).

Well, Tod Maffin of the CBC has produced his own version to highlight one of the risks inherent in the current lockout affecting Canada’s national broadcaster. It’s pretty good, but you probably have to be Canadian to appreciate it fully.

Katrina comments

Hummingbird hovers above a bird feeder

The NPR web site has an interesting page of comments from the public about Hurricane Katrina. Here’s one example from Marybeth Lima of Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

As a survivor of the outskirts of Hurricane Katrina, right now, this is what I know:

  • that in Baton Rouge, La., the winds hit 110 miles per hour, and the hummingbirds navigated this wind, which picked up 200 ton blocks of concrete in Mississippi, like a breeze;– that a tree frog successfully rode out the storm on the leeward side of a Mexican fan palm that battered our dining room window;
  • that though the wind thrashed the web of a writing spider and her egg sac, all three sailed through the storm without damage.

I am in awe of these micro miracles in the face of such macro devastation: trees down, power lines live, flooding, storm surge and death, even in our fair city.

Read more at NPR : Affected by Katrina? Listeners Write In

Top 50 Things a Real Foodie Should Do

A photograph of the market  in Cotignac.
The market in Cotignac

Just found this article from the May edition of the Observer Food Monthly, but better late than never right?

Top 50 Things a Real Foodie Should Do

To celebrate Observer Food Monthly’s fiftieth edition, we asked some of our favourite bon viveurs what they considered most essential to do before they died. …

31) Get up early and go to market
Preferably in Provence. The smell is a mix of pine and cigarette smoke with the occasional strong hit of goat cheese. Cogniscenti head for the Var area, particularly the markets of Cotignac (summer only), the bustling town of Salernes (Wednesday and Saturdays) and Aups (famous for truffles).