Archive for the ‘Historic blog entry’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 28, 2017

Are Books Dead?

 

This question about the future of reading arises now because of an essay by Scottish fiction writer Ewan Morrison entitled “Are books dead and can authors survive?”

Morrison goes on to explain: “”E-books and e-publishing will mean the end of the ‘writer’ as  a profession.  He argues that every information stream that has become digitized has inexorably slid toward free no-charge access. We’ve seen it happen with music, we’ve seen it happen with movies, and even with long-distance telephone calls.

In other words, the public now demands its media to be free.

I must admit in my own case, I read fewer and fewer books.  Instead I read upwards of half a dozen newspapers a day including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Montreal Gazette, the Globe and Mail and the Irish Times.  I read the last to keep abreast of the dreadful Catholic sex abuse crisis in Ireland.

However, I do belong to a book club.  We meet once a month in each other’s home, have a lively discussion and enjoy refreshments.  Our last book was a biography of  Pierre Trudeau.  Our next book will be a biography of Lucy Maude Montgomery.

What was the last book you read?  Are you reading anything now?

Is reading in decline?

Are books dead?

What do you think?

PIT STOP

March 16, 2017

Pit Stop - Oct

What language debate? Blog comments reflect a peaceful Quebec.

About three years ago I began blogging. This means I got myself an address on the Internet (anyone can do this in three easy steps) and started to post daily comments.

The major themes of these comments usually involve politics, morality and religion. I usually put these comments in the form of a question: Is Michael Ignatieff ready to be prime minister? Should lesbians conceive children? Is religion a hoax?

The records for my blog show that about 300 people check it out every day. But fewer than five per cent actually leave comments on my original postings. The most comments I ever had was 90 on whether Dr. Morgentaler should have received the Order of Canada.

I have had comments from as nearby as my neighbors in Westmount and as far away as South Korea and Latvia. The comments are generally informed and civil even when they deal with contentious subjects. Two of the most contentious are the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the language tensions in Quebec.

Because of the PQ’s language policies, one of my blogmates left the province and moved to the United States. He is still bitter and whenever Quebec comes up on my blog he makes no bones about his contempt for the province.

I bring this up now, not because I think this expatriate is typical of Quebecers on the language issue. The point is, I think he is atypical.

As Hubert Bach recently pointed out in a comprehensive article in The Gazette, there are signs all over the place that language peace has broken out in Quebec. One current example of that was the banning of two anglo bands from a Fête Nationale concert. Several artists in the sovereignist camp spoke out in protest. As a result, the two anglo bands participated in the concert. What a change that is from the time there were fights in the street about the Eaton’s apostrophe.

What seems to have replaced the bitterness in the language war of the late ’70s and ’80s is a realization that the accommodation between the two groups is working well for both. The French are more secure in their majority. The English are more comfortable as a minority.

This language peace is visible in the two national holidays that begin our summer. In both the Fête Nationale and Canada Day there is more fun and less politics. Instead of two duelling communities there is a sense of welcome all over the province.

Just imagine if Howard Galganov were to return from his exile in Ontario and tried his old game of fanning animosities. I don’t think he’d get far. That kind of demagoguery just doesn’t cut it here any more. There are, of course, a small group of angryphones remaining in the province, but they operate on the political fringes and are largely irrelevant.

Having said all that, the PQ option of separation for Quebecers is still on the books. PQ leader Pauline Marois has been doing her best to inject some life into that option. She has outlined a program to chip away at the federal system in the province by fighting to take various powers back from Ottawa, specifically in cultural affairs.

No sooner had Marois outlined her program than former premier Parizeau weighed in. Wouldn’t you know it. Parizeau has become a kind of frenchified Colonel Blimp. He told Marois she might provoke crises with Ottawa on a series of contentious issues.This would put the sovereignist troops on their metal.

So what happens? A few days after Parizeau’s ill-chosen remarks, the PQ was shut out in two by-elections, one of which they thought they could win.

Now we can take a break from politics at least until Labour Day. There are no constitutional questions buzzing around Ottawa, no referendums on the horizon in Quebec.

The Gazette caught the mood in a recent editorial on June 26: “Look around the world. There might be no place anywhere that manages diversity-in-unity as well as Quebec-inCanada. Where is it as easy to understand that there’s no need to choose between one sense of belonging and the other? In fact we do so well that we really need two days – or even the whole week in between – to celebrate how lucky we are.”

 Have a great summer.

PIT STOP

March 2, 2017

Here’s Neil with his column in the Senior Times

Pit Stop

Look to Northern Ireland for a way to peace in Middle East

The recent outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland seemed at first like a black cloud threatening the fragile peace process. Until the silver lining appeared.

What happened after two British soldiers and an Irish policeman were murdered by a discredited IRA dissident group is almost unimaginable. The forces that had been at each other’s throats for decades came together to publicly denounce the killings.

Thousands of people, Catholic and Protestant alike, took to the streets to express their outrage and abhorrence. And the republican splinter groups who have claimed responsibility have been roundly condemned by the mainstream republican organization, Sinn Fein. Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister in the power-sharing executive, stood shoulder to shoulder with the protestant first minister, Peter Robinson, to condemn the killings: “We were elected to lead and, through democratic institutions, deliver for everyone throughout the community. We will not allow a tiny mindless minority to set our political agenda or divert us.”

McGuinness called those responsible “traitors to Ireland” and urged Catholics to cooperate with police in catching the culprits. Such an unambiguous display of support for the Northern Ireland Police Service from the leadership of Sinn Fein is unprecedented. As the London journal The Tablet wrote: “Twenty years ago they would have been plotting the killing of soldiers and policemen themselves.”

Those responsible for the bloodshed plainly intended to destroy the power-sharing structure of the Assembly at Stormont and escalate sectarian tensions across the community. However, the response from politicians and even more importantly from ordinary citizens, who took to the streets in significant numbers at short notice to support vigils and peace rallies, made clear that any attempt to turn back the clock on the peace process would not be tolerated.

These public displays were followed by the unprecedented image of Catholic republicans and Protestant loyalists attending the funeral of Stephen Carroll, the murdered Ulster police officer. In a highly personal address at the end of the service, in the presence of Carroll’s widow, the head of the Police Service, Sir Hugh Orde, told her:

“He will not be forgotten, Kate. I promise you. My staff and officers will not forget what he did. I know the community will not forget what he did.”

The hard fact is there will be no united Ireland for the foreseeable future. But the blinkered IRA dissidents refuse to recognize that. They first demonstrated their hostility to the peace process when they planted a car bomb in Omagh in August 1998 that killed 29 people in the main shopping street. (I walked on this street in a trip to Ulster a couple of years ago. The Omagh blast is still fresh in the minds of the citizens there).

Undeterred by the hostile reaction, pockets of disgruntled republican activists throughout Northern Ireland vowed to defy majority public opinion, re-arm and revive “physical force” republicanism as the traditional and only effective means they could see of ever achieving a united Ireland.

For a time there was nothing much more than propaganda stunts with armed, hooded figures on manoeuvres in remote Irish boglands. From time to time police on both sides of the border intercepted arms and explosives in transit to a planned atrocity. The dissidents suspected that the mainstream IRA was double-crossing them by infiltrating its own people into their ranks to betray them.

But several well-planned ambushes over a year ago, in which police officers were wounded, underlined the growing dissident threat. Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde warned that the dissidents were intent on killing a police officer, a grim prophecy that has now been fulfilled.

Still, tragic as the killings were, what remains is the virtual universal condemnation of them in Ulster by the ordinary people and their elected leaders. Remember these same leaders had been fighting each other for decades. Now they are united for peace, an extraordinary accomplishment and a way forward for others.

It is no coincidence that U.S. President Barack Obama chose as his new envoy to the Middle East the very man who played a large role in bringing the warring Irish factions together in the Good Friday Agreement. Former democratic senator George Mitchell now brings his negotiating skills, honed in Ulster, to building peace between Israel and the Palestinians, whose enmity is perhaps the most dangerous in the world.

But the peace process in Ulster is a paradigm for a similar development in the Middle East. There are dissimilarities of course, but if the hard men in Ulster can unite for peace, so can those other warring factions – the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The peace process in Ulster points a way to peace in the Middle East.

The Senior Times

Pit Stop April 2009

RADIO WAVES

February 27, 2017

Here is another episode of EXCHANGE, Neil’s radio show on CJAD.

This episode talks about reincarnation.

Enjoy!


https://neilmckentyweblog2.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/reincarnation.mp3

Jean P.

Around the World on a Sailboat

February 22, 2017

Click below to hear Catharine discuss her time at PACE magazine and Neil’s early experiences of writing.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

February 21, 2017

With the smart phone more and more popular and the increase in sales and the competition more fierce than ever:

Do we know everything about them?

Are they really a necessity in today’s world?

Are we getting a fair deal in Canada?

———————

Here is a post from Neil on the subject.

Posted on Exchange in May 2010

DO CELLPHONES CAUSE BRAIN CANCER?

After studying the matter for 10 years in 13 countries including Canada, the experts have come up with a puzzling answer about mobile phones and cancer.

Here is the bad news.  Heavy cellphone use, defined as chatting on mobiles for more than half an hour a day over 10 years,  was associated with a 40 per cent increase in risk of a rare and deadly brain cancer known as glioma, the same kind of cancer that killed Senator Kennedy.

The good news is that the study also found that low and moderate amounts of cellphone use seemed to offer a modest protection against developing the disease.

This means that the debate over cell[phone use is unlikely to go away soon.

The fact is that using a cellphone amounts to placing a small radio transmitter next to your head, exposing the brain and ears to microwave radiation.

Do you use cellphones?

Are you concerned about a risk of brain cancer?

Would you stop using cellphones for that reason.?

Neil recounts his time on TV

February 16, 2017

After returning from Ireland in the summer of 1987, where the John Main biography had been launched at Trinity College, I was astonished to receive a telephone call from a senior program producer at CFCF television, Don McGowan, a well-known Montreal television personality in his own right. Over lunch at the garden café of the Ritz-Carlton, McGowan asked me if I would be interested in doing a live talk show on television, a sort of poor man’s Larry King Live. McGowan would provide a chauffeur-driven limousine to pick me up each morning (impressive for the neighbors) and an extensive new wardrobe (a delight for Catharine who never approved of my doing radio in a scruffy T-shirt).

04-28-2013-4

Neil on set at CFCF

Of course I jumped at the opportunity, and in September 1987, we went on air with Montreal’s first English live call-in television program, McKenty Live. Television is more cumbersome and complicated than radio, but for the next three years I had a lot of fun – the limousine with a bar, telephone and TV set in the back seat; the warmth and soft hands in the make-up room; a small, friendly staff. During the three years we had some remarkable guests: the famous sexologist, Dr. Ruth, who was so tiny she had to sit on a Montreal telephone directory; Canada’s chief negotiator, Louis Reisman, with whom I had a ferocious argument on free trade two days before the federal election; and René Lévesque, the only guest who not only smoked, but offered a cigarette to everyone in the crew. Only a week later, this man whom I liked very much, died of a heart attack. René Lévesque’s last appearance in public might well have been on McKenty Live.

Neil and a  guess at CFCF

Although I enjoyed McKenty Live and my associates on the program, Daniel Freedman, Wendy Helfenbaum and Bernie Peissel, at the end of the third season, I decided to leave the program. My reasoning was: I would be repeating programs we had already done; some of my associates were being changed; I wanted to do some more writing, perhaps a book on Catharine’s grandfather, onetime mayor of Toronto; and both Catharine and I were busy with the Benedictine Priory and meditation. So in June 1990, I left CFCF television.

from the Inside Story.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

February 14, 2017

A passage from the book  Neil McKenty Live! 

McKenty’s Two-Rule Golf School.

”Keep it simple, stupid!”  Imagine if those four words were applied to the golf swing.  It would revolutionize the game.  Since I left my television show 12 years ago, I have been trying to master the golf swing.  Let’s face it, the swing has more rules than a monastery: bend your elbows, incline your knees, swivel your hips, flex your ankle, equalize tour weight, overlap your fingers, and address the ball.  In trying to keep all this straight, the danger is you begin to hallucinate.  You wake up in the middle of the night yelling ”Fore” and you haven’t even hit the ball.

Is there any way to get a handle on this jumble, any way to ”keep it simple, stupid?”  As a matter of fact I think there is.  It came to me the other day at Meadowbrook where I try to play several days a week.  Of course all golfers have their own theories about the golf swing.  For what it is worth, here’s mine.  It seems to me you can reduce all these rules and regulations to two.  One relates to the head, the other to the feet.  Keep it down and don’t move.  Simple, but not easy.  How can I tell if I’ve moved my head during my golf swing?  Simple again.  The ball dribbles along the fairway like water dribbling from a garden hose that’s lost its pressure.  Whereas if I keep my head steady the ball arcs gracefully into the air every single time.  So it’s not your elbows or your wrists or your knees.  It’s the head, stupid.  And I would argue that if you don’t move your head, you are halfway to a good golf game.  So do I keep my head still.  Not every time.  But often enough to keep me coming back.

After the head there’s the feet.  What about them?  Move them.  The exact opposite of what you do with the head.  To be more precise, you don’t exactly move the feet.  What you do is move your weight from one foot to the other, and in the process, both feet move in different ways.  So how exactly does this work?

When I address the ball I try to keep mu weight evenly on both feet.  Then on my back swing I try to move most of my weight from my front foot to my back foot.  And on my follow through I try to move the weight from my back foot to my front foot.  I don’t often do it correctly bu I try.  In going from back to front, the rear foot pivots so that the end of the swing you are standing on your rear toes facing the target.  So, it’s true that both feet move in different ways.  But the purpose of the whole exercise is to move or transfer the weight.  Again, simple, but not easy.  The fact is that most of the time I can’t manage it.

How can I tell if I have moved my feet (transferred my weight) correctly?  I can tell every time.  If I haven’t, the swing has no power and the ball won’t go far.  It’s ike a gun the has lost its charge.  The bullet has no velocity.

So, to resume.  If I move my feet, I get distance.  If I don’t move my head, I get height.  If you have both height and distance you are a long way toward an enjoyable golf game  Just for the record, I have this other idiosyncrasy that makes my game still more enjoyable.  I don’t count.  So instead of logging a triple bogey from the last hole, each hole for me is a fresh start.  And believe me, I don’t need to count to tell whether my swing is working or not.

If you are a golfer you may disagree with my diagnosis of the golf swing.  But you have got to admit, it’s simple.  And if I could find a partner, I think we could make some money.  We’d start the Two Rule Golf School.  ”Don’t move your head, move your feet.”  We couldn’t lose, could we?

BLAST FROM THE PAST

February 9, 2017

With the recent controversial nomination of U.S. Educational Secretary Betsy Devos, I thought an episode of McKenty Live! on the subject of education with guest Quebec Minister of Education, Claude Ryan would be nice.

RADIO WAVES

February 8, 2017

 

Exchange on CJAD with Neil McKenty.

On exchange today, the full show is dedicated to D-Day June 6th 1944.