How the CCF transformed into the NDP

Tommy Douglas delivers a speech on the stump in Saskatchewan

In a CBC Radio News Special broadcast on January 1, 1961, Canadians heard Tommy Douglas tell the story of Mouseland. In this humourous political allegory, he describes a troubled village of mice ruled by cats. Every four years the mice get together to elect a new parliament, but each time they either elect a group of fat black cats or a group of big white cats. “Now if you think it’s strange than mice should elect a government made up of cats,” Douglas quipped, “just look at the history of Canada for the…


(and you and me, for watching it)

Scrolling through the “TLC Casting” website is uncomfortable. It would make you feel uncomfortable even if it were a casting call for fictitious roles, but it isn’t. They’re looking for real people to cast for their really popular Reality TV programs. It’s not your run-of-the-mill casting call; TLC is looking for bona fide pregnant teens, genuine Young-Grandmothers-To-Be, and sincere polygamists who are looking to add a sister wife. Do you have a rash, psoriasis, or undiagnosed skin condition? If you’re afflixion is sufficiently worthy of being gawked at, you might be the perfect candidate for Dr. Pimple Popper.

“Now, TLC doesn't stand for anything”

TLC is…


And why some fans aren’t happy about it

Howard Stern wants you to know that he’s changed. Adopting the cringeworthy parlance of our times, Howard himself says he has “evolved.” That’s the kind of language politicians use when they’ve flip-flopped on a contentious issue after social mores have shifted. However, in the case of Howard, I think the word choice is fitting: he has evolved — but not everyone is happy about it.

The whole notion of an evolution suggests growth and development over time from something simple into something that’s more complex. There’s also a normative connotation to the term that implies that this new thing that…


Or: The Enviable Isolation of Robinson Crusoe

In Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, the titular protagonist spends over two decades isolated on a small island. He names it “The Island of Despair.” By his own account, he considered this solitary period of his unfortunate life the “most miserable of all conditions in the world.” Well, this is how he felt at the beginning. The early years were particularly dreadful. In an especially depressing passage, Crusoe describes how his feelings of utter hopelessness would occasionally assail him at random:

“…the anguish of my soul at my condition would break out upon me on a sudden, and my very heart…


= 2x(proper noun) + 4x(noun) + 2x(verb)

I’m sure some of you are familiar with the buffalo from Buffalo who other buffalo from Buffalo buffalo, who also happen to buffalo buffalo from Buffalo? They (the linguists) say this word (“buffalo”) can be used to construct the longest one-word English language sentence using correct grammar:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo bufallo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Don’t buffalo me, bro

For whatever reason, I spent a week obsessed with this example of lexical ambiguity. It occurred to me that I could construct a sentence that was just as long if I could find a homophone/homonym that functioned as…


A Response to Harold Bloom, 18 Years Later

Harold Bloom, presumably upset about the popularity of Harry Potter

Harold Bloom is a famous English professor and literary critic. Although I haven’t read any of his books in full, I have become familiar with some of his views on literature after reading several of his essays and watching a number of his interviews on YouTube. I know two things for certain about Bloom: he adores Shakespeare; he loathes Harry Potter.

If you’re looking for a little more context before reading on, I suggest you go read Bloom’s turn of the millennium scribe against “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” published in the Wall Street Journal.

(Side note: it appears…


Some thoughts on the prospect of a Chinese-led cyberfuture

404 not found

If you’ve lived in China, as I have for three years, then you know much of the Internet is blocked off by the “Great Firewall.” All foreigners as well as a tiny minority of Chinese internet users employ a VPN or “Virtual Private Network” to circumvent the wall, but the vast majority of Chinese people are sealed off. Content deemed unacceptable by the Communist Party is obscured using various methods, including bandwith throttling, keyword filtering, and blocking access to specific websites, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. In addition, various forms of pressure are used to coerce journalists and…


All the Bard’s plays, ranked by genre

Shakespeare, the Literary GOAT

On a trip to London last summer, I stopped by the Globe Theatre for a tour. Exiting through the gift shop, I spotted a beautiful bonded leather hardcopy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I can’t say why, but it beckoned me. I enjoyed reading Shakespeare in school and I especially enjoyed memorizing the great monologues and soliloquies, but I was no fanatic. Still, I felt a sudden urge to reacquaint myself with the Bard.

Incidentally, somewhere toward the end of 2017, I decided that 2018 would be a year of arbitrary challenges: I decided to run my first…


A matchup not unlike UFC 229: McGregor-Khabib

If philosophy were a cage fight, there are few matchups I would rather watch than René Descartes squared up against Søren Kierkegaard.

The bout, I think, would be similar to the upcoming super fight between Connor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov — one is a standup specialist, the other a world-class wrestler. In this analogy, Soren “Knight of Faith” Kierkegaard is McGregor, his “leap of faith” tantamount to a knockout left-hook. On the other hand, René “The Cogito” Descartes is Khabib, his “method of radical doubt” similar to a relentless ground and pound. …


Ulysses S. Grant, a great drunk

I want to write a history of great drunks.

The drunk who inspired this idea is Ulysses S. Grant. In her excellent multi-biography Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin briefly mentions Grant and portrays him as the Union’s most successful General. He remains renowned for his dogged military strategy as well as his laconic no-nonsense communication style — oh, and his drinking. He’s also known for his aggressive drinking. Indeed, it seemed as if he had plenty of detractors who suggested he was too drunk to command an army. And yet he had more military success than his sober peers…

C.C. Webster

Writer-at-Large. Canadian, but I contain multitudes. Twitter : @christwebs

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