1. 20:01 26th Jun 2014

    Notes: 16

    Reblogged from thevancouversun

    thevancouversun:

    A la Jimmy Fallon, professors at Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University read mean reviews about themselves.

    More photos and video: http://ow.ly/yuMyJ

    My old school and my old student paper. They’re doing great things these days.

     
  2. 02:02 9th Jun 2014

    Notes: 171

    Reblogged from stevenkraandrawingdaily

    image: Download

    stevenkraandrawingdaily:

// late night comic //

I feel this is a universal experience on so many things. Even right now, I am about to go to bed and am already realizing what a grammatical nightmare that previous sentence will be appear in the morning. That one, too. 

    stevenkraandrawingdaily:

    // late night comic //

    I feel this is a universal experience on so many things. Even right now, I am about to go to bed and am already realizing what a grammatical nightmare that previous sentence will be appear in the morning. That one, too. 

     
  3. Bearish on the Canadian Economy V

    The pundits are still talking about this famous story that ran on the New York Times' new “Upshot” blog a few weeks ago, declaring Canada's middle class to be the “world's richest” — a title that was previously held by the middle class of America.

    I’m always skeptical of Canadian economic triumphalism, and in a recent column for the Huffington Post, I quoted from two impartial US analysts who voiced some skepticism of the “Canada’s #1” conclusion: Reihan Salam in the National Review and Derek Thompson in the Atlantic.

    The reason for the eclipse is that Canadian income growth has outpaced America’s over the last few years. Here are some reasons to be sceptical about what this means for Canada.

    1. Canada’s housing bubble — Canadian housing prices are, by some measures, the most inflated in the entire world, which can be seen as a bad thing from a number of angles. Many economists have blamed Canada’s housing inflation for fostering a sort of “irrational exuberance” spending culture among middle class Canadians who cockily think they’re richer than they are because their house is worth so much, and don’t care about getting into enormous debt as a result. This stimulates consumerism in the short term, but at some point those debts need to be paid down and consumers will retreat.

    The other problem is that housing-related industries in Canada, particularly construction, are providing a lot of high-paying jobs that may not be sustainable in the long term, once demand for new homes and condos eventually declines.

    2. Oil — The second Alberta oil boom, based around the development of the northern Alberta oil sands, has created a lot of well-paying jobs and given Canada a lot of potential as an petroleum-exporting economic superpower, particularly in an era of sky-high oil prices. However, being a successful exporter requires a market to export to, and given all the politics surrounding the Keystone and Northern Gateway pipelines, it does not go without saying that Canada has a stable, long-term consumer base for its most valuable natural resource — particularly as other nations experience oil booms of their own.

    3. Competitiveness and productivity— There was an interesting piece in the National Post the other day noting an uncomfortable and controversial fact — a lot of Canadian workers are overpaid. In a proper market economy, workers should be paid what their labor is worth, and the awkward fact is that a lot of Canadian labor is apparently not worth that much in the eyes of management. A lot of Canadian business are not as successful as they want to be, yet they’re paying their employees as if they were.

    This is a fact we sometimes lose sight of when we talk about the US economy. America is still the richest country in the world because it produces a lot of stuff the world (and Americans) want and need. The problem with the American economy is that the profits produced by the companies producing all the good stuff are not necessarily being shared in the fairest way possible. In Canada, by contrast, profits may be shared a bit more equally, but the profits to share are smaller, and it may be hard to continue to share them as generously if productivity is not growing in sync with job and wage expectations. This is the old “bigger pie / equal slices” argument.

    Below we see a Google chart of GDP growth.

     
  4. Bush’s portraits

    Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker once described George W. Bush’s portraits as bad paintings, but good art. That sounds about right. As someone interested in political portraiture, I’ve enjoyed the coverage of his recently-unveiled gallery of world leaders at his presidential library in Texas.

    Unlike a lot of “professional” political portraits, which, as I’ve discussed previously, tend to be filled with tacky gimmicks and vain nonsense, Bush’s portraits, which only depict his subjects’ faces, seem intimate, human, and personal. You get a sense that Bush painted these trying to depict some essence of the leaders’ character, as well as their physical appearance, and I think that’s what makes them fairly compelling despite their roughness.

    What makes them less impressive, however, is the fact that they are all very obviously drawn from internet pictures, often pictures from Wikipedia or ones that appear within the first two or three matches when you Google Image search their name.

    Observe:

     
  5. 14:11 31st Mar 2014

    Notes: 1

    My very talented pal Angela has included me in her comic, Wasted Talent. This charming little exchange actually happened, ostentatious mannerisms and all.

    In the strip, the book I’m getting from her is Cubical Warrior, a fun collection of her beautiful comic strips about living and working in Vancouver. It’s her third book. I never cease to be inspired by how much content Angela’s able to produce, given that she spends most of her life just being a normal person with a normal 9-to-5 job. It certainly gives a zero-book dilettante like me a lot to feel insecure about.

     
  6. 01:17 17th Mar 2014

    Notes: 2695

    Reblogged from whatsdifferentincanada

     
  7. Bearish on the Canadian Economy IV

    Some interesting charts posted in Canadian Business magazine. The most interesting two are near the bottom, one of which compares Canadian and US economic growth, as determined by GDP per capita, the other Canadian and US “productivity,” which is to say GDP per hours worked — or to put it even more bluntly, how economically useful our work is. Though Canada has kept almost exact pace with the US on GDP per capita, we still lag on productivity.

    The author concludes:

    By looking at individual rather than family income, we see that wage gains from this period were largely thanks to rising commodity prices and increasing number of women entering the labour force. These are not trends we can expect to continue indefinitely.  Furthermore, these trends served to mask slow Canadian productivity growth.

    Being bearish on the Canadian economy means being prepared for the possibility for some kind of moment of reckoning in the near future, when the unsustainable nature of some of our current economic Good Times finally catches up with itself.

     
  8. Bush money

    The role played by “big money” in American politics tends to be overrated, or at least misunderstood. There’s a world of difference between the fact that it costs a lot to run for president, which is undeniable (and predictable, given we’re talking about the world’s second-largest democracy) and the simplistic idea that “the most money wins" — though the two concepts are often lazily merged in the popular imagination. Mitt Romney actually slightly outspent Barack Obama in 2012.

    A new story from the Washington Post claims that “every single Romney donor we spoke with this week” wants Jeb Bush to be the GOP nominee in 2016, which has led to a flurry of fatigued editorials speculating on yet another possible Bush-Clinton match up. I’m just posting this for posterity, because I am not personally that bullish on Bush’s chances, but it’s worth remembering at this early stage who the “big money” evidently wants in the White House.  

     
  9. 14:38 25th Feb 2014

    Notes: 1621

    Reblogged from pbsthisdayinhistory

    image: Download

    pbsthisdayinhistory:

February 25, 1870: America’s First Black Senator Is Sworn In
Hiram Rhodes Revels, the country’s first African American member of U.S. Congress, took his seat on this day in 1870, representing the state of Mississippi. Southern Democrats, who were for the most part supporters of segregation, tried to block his nomination.
From the U.S. House of Representatives Archives:

Just before the Senate agreed to admit a black man to its ranks on February 25, Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts sized up the importance of the moment: “All men are created equal, says the great Declaration,” Sumner roared, “and now a great act attests this verity. Today we make the Declaration a reality…. The Declaration was only half established by Independence. The greatest duty remained behind. In assuring the equal rights of all we complete the work.”

Revel’s term lasted little more than a year. Hiram Rhodes Revels impressed many political observers with his oratorical gifts and moderate temperament.Dive deeper into the story behind Revel’s election with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

Another reminder that the history of tolerance is complex:

    pbsthisdayinhistory:

    February 25, 1870: America’s First Black Senator Is Sworn In

    Hiram Rhodes Revels, the country’s first African American member of U.S. Congress, took his seat on this day in 1870, representing the state of Mississippi. Southern Democrats, who were for the most part supporters of segregation, tried to block his nomination.

    From the U.S. House of Representatives Archives:

    Just before the Senate agreed to admit a black man to its ranks on February 25, Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts sized up the importance of the moment: “All men are created equal, says the great Declaration,” Sumner roared, “and now a great act attests this verity. Today we make the Declaration a reality…. The Declaration was only half established by Independence. The greatest duty remained behind. In assuring the equal rights of all we complete the work.”

    Revel’s term lasted little more than a year. Hiram Rhodes Revels impressed many political observers with his oratorical gifts and moderate temperament.

    Dive deeper into the story behind Revel’s election with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

    Another reminder that the history of tolerance is complex:

     
  10. 12:07 19th Feb 2014

    Notes: 4

    How intolerant was the past?

    I found this recent piece by Jim Loewen in Salon to be quite thought-provoking. Loewen’s main conceit is that James Buchanan (1791-1868), president of the United States from 1857 to 1861, was gay, and that a lot of people in his own time knew this, and didn’t care. I don’t think the author provides nearly enough evidence for that conclusion, but he does go on to ask an interesting question about why our first instinct is to angrily assume that’s impossible. Why do we always unthinkably assume everyone in the past was more intolerant than we are in the present? Why does this have to be true to satisfy our assumptions about the modern world?

    I’ve been reading about the poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) lately, another man from the same era who was quite openly gay. He even wrote quite explicit poems about same-sex love. And it was controversial with some people, but by no means defined the man’s reputation, which was of course that of one of the most beloved literary celebrities of the mid-19th century. According to contemporary narrative, this is hard to accept. Logically, Whitman should have been extremely persecuted and marginalized, just as we assume a gay politician would have been.

    Loewen argues that American history is better understood by embracing the idea that only the years “between 1890 and about 1940” were uniquely regressive on a whole host of racial, sexual, and religious issues — a “nadir” of tolerance in the United States — and it’s from this nadir that we get our contemporary cliches about how awful the past used to be. 

    It seems like a useful theory that can be used to explain a lot.