Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shameless Nationalist Sentimentalism

"The country the world forgot - again"

This "Personal View" article by The Telegraph writer

Monday, February 8, 2010

I've Always Envied the Family Cat, and Now I Know Why

"What Canadians Really Believe"
(From the death penalty to same-sex relationships, a new poll shows huge shifts.)

I was lunching (or supping I suppose, given the hour) yesterday while sifting through an old copy of Macleans magazine (well, old for a news magazine) and stumbled upon this article by Ken MacQueen. The article is based on a October 2009 Angus Reid poll asking Canadians questions about their beliefs on "ethical issues". While I'd love to get my hands on the full, unfiltered poll results, the article contains some of the more interesting statistics, as well as a few different perspectives on the implications these results might have.

Many of the results (or at least those mentioned in the article) didn't surprise me (for example, fewer than 3% of respondents thought that birth control was amoral), but there were a couple of exceptions:

While roughly 85% of Canadians have no trouble with premarital (or more likely "a-marital", to coin a term) sex or with divorce, only 15% are willing to pardon marital infidelity (basically saying that, while society has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, a promise is a promise).

More Canadians (41% vs. 34%) oppose medical testing on animals than oppose the death penalty; in fact, a full 53% of Canadians support capital punish. This is probably the only statistic in the entire article that really disappointed me. Let alone the whole rehabilitative vs. retributive argument, my strongest objection to capital punishment (other than being literally unable to think of a reasoned, logical argument in its defence) can be neatly summed up by the case of Canadian Steven Truscott.

Anyway, it's an interesting read, and certainly insightful into how this country thinks.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Alone Time" Isn't Just for Perverts

"Caring for Your Introvert"
(The habits and needs of a little-understood group)

I've been wanting to share this article from The Atlantic by Jonathan Rauch for quite some time. I think it pretty well speaks for itself, except to say the obvious: My name is Russell, and I am an introvert.

Seriously, there are a few spots where I think Rauch probably overdoes it a little (for example I think his advice at the end of the article is probably a little extreme) but his overall point is absolutely spot-on. If nothing else I don't believe I'm quite as introverted as he is (or possibly I'm just slighting better adjusted, but only slightly).

Anyway, for you extroverts out there, hopefully this will help you understand why I'm not much of a party person; for you introverts, stay strong.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The "Value" of Failing?

"Failure to Fail"
(Why are students no longer flunking university? Is it their brains, or their wallets? )

In this article from The Walrus, Jay Teitel goes on the search for the "Last Person to Flunk Out of a Canadian University", discovering along the way why such a person is so elusive.

I accidentally read the last page first, and in some ways I think it's the most interesting. Teitel's points about the perceived ramifications of failure in the students' collective consciousness are both extant and unfortunate. Maybe it's just me, but I will admit to an odd satisfaction, even pride, after learning that, for the first time ever, I had failed a course in my second year of studying for a B.Mus. It didn't hurt that I was probably the first person in school history to fail that particular course, giving the whole story a certain epic quality (and I've always been one for stories), and it certainly wasn't something I wished to repeat (especially after my brief but pointed discussion with the head of the Arts Department), but nonetheless it wasn't the horrific experience I'd always believed it to be.

It's funny, but since failing, since putting that one blemish on my "prefect record", it's been a whole lot easier to put those aspects of my life (education, course-work, etc.) into perspective. Would I fail that class again if given the chance? No (in fact, I did quite well in it the second time around). Did failing that one class ruin me? Absolutely not. If anything, it just may have made me a better person.


Dear Reader,

After having abandoned the Blogosphere several years ago, I'm taking another foray into the world of making myself look smart by restating things other people have already written (but at least it's all sourced). Mainly this will be a place for me to relay web-pages that I find interesting, especially ones that make me think (hence the name). You can think of it as a sort of annotated bibliography on the topic "Items of Interest". Hopefully you'll find something of interest here, too.

Updates will be sporadic (as one never expects to find the needle in the haystack); however, I hope that what pages I do add here will be worth the wait.


Russell Ault

PS. For those of you who remember the, er, experience that was my last blog, my apologies and, yes, I've had a glass of water and calmed down a bit.