Archive for the ‘Thought for the day’ 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?

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

March 21, 2017

Because spring has arrived, here is a poem translated to English from the Irish language.

Anois teacht an tEarraigh

Spring is now coming

Now with the springtime
The days will grow longer
And after St. Bride’s day’
My sail I’ll let go
I put my mind to it,
And I never will linger
Till I find myself back
In the County Mayo.

In Clare of Morris family
I will be the first night
and in the Wall on the side below it
I will begin to drink
to Maghs Woods I shall go
until I shall make a months visit there
two miles close
to the Mouth of the Big Ford.

I swear
that my heart rises up
as the wind rises up
or as the fog lifts
when I think about Ceara
or about Gaileang on the lower side of it
about Sceathach an Mhíle
or about the plains of Mayo.

Cill Liadain is the town
where everything grows
there are blackberries and raspberries there
and every sort of fruit
and were I to be standing
in the center of my people
age would depart from me
and I would be again young.

There is always wheat and oats
growing barley and flax there
rye in branch there
flower-bread and meat
the folks who make moonshine
without a licence selling it there
the pride of the country
playing and drinking.

There is sowing and plowing
and fertilizing without manure
and it’s many the thing there
of which I have not yet spoken
kilns and mills
working without rest there
with hardly any talk about a pennys rent
or about nothing of that sort.

 

 

Written by the famous Irish language poet, Antaine Ó Raifteirí.

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.

RADIO WAVES

March 15, 2017

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

NM001

Neil takes another call

On this episode of ExchangeNeil interviews Canadian journalist, Charles Lynch.  With live callers as usual. 

CASUAL FRIDAY

March 10, 2017

Logic Riddles

1- What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?

2- What kind of room has no doors or windows?

3- What gets wetter and wetter the more it dries?

4- What kind of tree can you carry in your hand?

5- If you have me, you want to share me. If you share me, you haven’t got me. What am I?

6- What gets broken without being held?

7- How many of each species did Moses take on the ark with him?

8- Take off my skin – I won’t cry, but you will! What am I?

9- What can you catch but not throw?

10- What has one eye but cannot see?

Enjoy the riddles!!  And have a great weekend.

The answers are below.

 1- A Stamp
2- A Mushroom
3- A Towel
4- A Palm
5- A Secret
6- A Promise
7- None, Moises wasn’t on the ark Noah was
8- An Onion
9- A Cold
10- A Needle

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.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAPLE SYRUP AND TABLE SYRUP?

January 30, 2017

maple_syrup

Catharine and I often have brunch at a well-known Montreal restaurant named Beauty’s. We always order the same items. Fresh orange juice, blueberry pancakes and bacon. Catharine orders the more expensive real maple syrup. I use the regular table syrup and it is perfectly satisfactory to me.

It is true, however, that it is all too easy to misrepresent real maple syrup. Rigtht now two American senators have a bill in the hopper that would impose tougher sanctions for the marketing of other syrups as maple syrup.

Table syrup is sickly sweet. While maple syrup may be expensive, even a small amount transforms a plain waffle or pancake, a simple slice of ham or cube of tofu, or a mustardy salad dressing.

But does Canada do enough to protect maple syrup? Quebec forbids the use of the word “maple” or of maple-leaf shapes or pictures, on any bottle that does not contain 100 per-cent pure maple syrup. But Quebec is the only province that does this? Some restaurants still pass off inferior syrups and most customers do not notice or they acquiesce.

Should there be more protection for pure maple syrup?

Is there a difference between maple syrup and table syrup?

What do you think?

Published by Neil McKenty on November 27, 2011

Here are the comments that followed:

philsfancy Says:
I like brown sugar,actually.  Put enough ketchup on anything and it works out.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Lady Janus Says:
There’s a definite difference between maple syrup and its many copy-cats (I learned how to make one of those copy-cats for myself a few years ago). And the expense of it is only part of the difference. But yes, like with wines, a lot of people have trouble tasting the difference, and sweet is sweet.

But I don’t know what you mean by “protection.” Other than accurate labelling, what else could be done?

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Tony Kondaks Says:
Coke, Pepsi, no-name brand.  Blindfold a volunteer and see if they can tell the difference in a taste test. Whenever I’ve read about this being done, no one can by any significant statistical amount.

I’d like to think that there’s a discernable difference between real maple syrup and maple-flavoured table syrup but I don’t have much confidence I could tell the difference in a blind test.

Sugar is sugar…whether it’s refined from cane sugar in some factory in North Carolina or from boiling boiling forty gallons of sap down to one gallon of maple syrup in a quaint log cabin outside of Knowlton. And for all I know disreputable purveyors have been cutting the latter with the former for years and I have been none the wiser.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Neil McKenty Says:
One thought. Agriculture and Agi-Food Canada and the Quebec maple syrup industry have developed a “flavour wheel” for maple products, adding descriptors such as clove, butter, or roasted dandelion root, which enables Canadians to develop a finer appreciation of pure maple syrup.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Jim Says:
Table syrup is corn starch colored with caramel, and has never seen sap, except the sap who thinks it’s maple syrup. Why anyone thinks it’s maple, except for the colour, is beyond me. When I was knee high to a peephole I would chill the sap right out of the tree and drink it as I would a glass of water. That was a real thirst quencher. I must admit, however, that I drank more beer. The reason was that I could only knock off a few glasses of sap in a day, whereas with beer I could knock off 24 pints in a day. Isn’t it odd that we can knock off 24 beers in a day, but not the equivalent in milk or whatever.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

littlepatti Says:
I was surprised recently to find Quebec maple syrup in the USA for $3.99 in a maple leaf shaped bottle that sells for 7.99 here. I suggest that Canada is subsidizing Maple Syrup to that extent.
I use a sugar-free syrup, and very little because I like strawberries & whipped cream on my pancake or waffle.
I wouldn’t pass a taste test-
Years ago I shipped a case of syrup to clients in Florida. They had never tasted the real thing and I was the most popular person, for awhile.
I think that Canada should increase our exports.
There’s no point in more product protection.

Posted on November 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

Writing Conversation

January 24, 2017

The Red Canoe 2

Today on the Writing conversation, a little book by Ross Fleming.

THE RED CANOE

“Climb up on top of that large rock at the head of the rapids” said the young instructor.  “Be sure your life jackets are securely fastened, then jump into the river, and float down face up and feet fist.”  We were terrified.  The water was turbulent, and there were a number of rocks.  We avoided calamity as we were carried down the rapids, and climbed out on the shore, exhilarated.  Having passed our first test, we were then allowed to get into ourcanoe and begin to learn the fundamentals of whitewater canoeing.

Thus began our lifelong afection for our new red canvas covered wooden canoe.  It began life 63 years ago in Fredericton, where its ribs and planks were carved from the cedar trees of the New Brunswick forest.  Made by hand, it is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship.  So aesthetically pleasing, and so responsive.  It survived the trip by Canadian Pacific Railway from Fredericton to our home in Toronto.  Over the years, it has trained and carried three generaation of Femings on many, many happy trips in Ontario’s northern lakes and river.

Like the snakes of the northern woods, our red canoe has shed and re-grown many skins, but always the same colour.  Like we, its family, it has survived broken ribs ans planks, all repaired and replaced by skilled and loving craftmanship.  All of which has enhanced our mutual affection. It understands us and we understand it.  It protects us, and we protect it.

My daughter’s poem reads:

This is my dad, happy,

In a canoe, long legs tossed out before him,

Arms paddling like legs walk.

The stories it could tell.  At the cottage, my elderly mother would appear at sunrise, banana in one hand and fishing rod in the pther, seat herself on the bottom of the canoe, her oldest son paddling and removing fish from her hook, the fish destined for breakfast.  Mother-son, son-mother love.  Our red canoe has patiently taught us how the relationship between bow and stern whitewater paddles provides an ideal model for married couple – no one person in cherge, each skillfully playing his/her own role, but respecting and depending on each other’s part.

The canoe connect us to Mother Earth, from which we cam and to which we must return.  Last summer our beloved red canoe carried Patricia’s ashes to be returned to the wilderness whence she came, and which she loved.  Hearing the bagpipe playing across te lake, one could picture Patricia kneeling tall in the bow and paddling strongly, the canoe rising and plunging in high splahing waves in strong wind, joyously calling out ” I LOVE THIS!!”

Since then, our beloved canoe has once again carried its now 88 years old compamion through the wilderness, crossing portages on now younger shoulders, but still enjoying the peace, beauty, freedom and adventure in our land of rocks, trees and lakes and rivers.

The Red Canoe 1

Oh God! Oh Montreal! Oh Potholes!

January 19, 2017

It’s pothole time again! Especially here in Montreal. Yesterday on CJAD I heard them talking about what will happen when the ice thaws. Potholes galore! What’s your experience of potholes in your area? I remember when Neil and I were bicycling along the Lachine canal, Neil’s bike hit an invisible pothole and he ended up breaking an ankle. It didn’t stop us biking but it did slow us down for a few days.

Oh the joys of spring!

Catharine McKenty

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Click below 4 an irish tune

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 20, 2016

A lovely poem.

Lollipop To Magnifying Glass

A Love Letter

I know that I can be a little sour

And sometimes you have trouble seeing the big picture

Still, you’re better than the others

My last lover sucked the life out of me, and I made them rot

It was not a healthy relationship

You’re not like that.  No, you help me see clearer

You always notice the little things – the things that no one else thinks about

You peeled my wrapper and uncovered me

Whenever I feel bitter, you’re always there to remind me that I’m sweet

And I’m sweet on you

People used to treat me like junk, but not you

You see what others can’t

You have a handle on what’s really important

No need to sugar-coat things

I really like you, and I thinks you like me too

Micheal Hadziantoniou (age 15)

Published in the book Memories Never Lost