Sunday, January 24, 2010

A good dog is not lost

After two weeks, Lufthansa has found my baggage which they lost en
route to Geneva. As my friend Loren would say, "thanks for doing
what's expected of you."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thanks, Apple!

I bought an iPhone a week ago. This morning I dropped it in my
apartment, breaking the home button. This afternoon I strolled into an
Apple Store and they gave me a new phone, no questions asked. That's

Friday, January 22, 2010

We looked into his confidential records. Nothing is wrong.

Short story: a UFC champion gets sick in Manitoba. He goes to a hospital and is properly diagnosed, but not given a CT scan. He then hightails it to Bismarck, ND where he is treated and then admitted to the Mayo Clinic. He proceeds to refer to Canadian health care as third world. The CEO of the health authority objects, looks into his case, and tries to correct the record for the press. This is all well and good. 

But, shouldn't the CEO of a health authority be a little reluctant to admit that "We have checked this particular health record and were are quite confident that the correct diagnosis was given and the best course of treatment offered"? Can't even a blowhard expect some degree of privacy for his medical records? 

The complete Globe story is here

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tories plunge in the polls... but what's the alternative?

There's been much made of the Tories' recent decline in the polls. By
most readings, they are more or less tied with the Liberals. This is,
most probably, attributable to their prorogation of Parliament. And
good on Canadians for punishing a Prime Minister who avoids the House.
But does this indicate that the Tories made a mistake? This appears to
be the consensus, both among Liberal politicians and media commentary.

I remain unconvinced, and it's for one reason. We simply don't know
how far down in the polls the Tories would have been had they remained
in the House, had a protracted fight over the release of documents,
and faced several more weeks of embarrassing questions on the handing
of detainees in Afghanistan. I am not convinced they'd be doing worse,
but it is possible.

The point is, unless you are certain that they would not have been
doing worse, then you're on shaky ground dismissing Stephen Harper for
finally overplaying his hand.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shelly Glover doesn't know who Tom Flanagan is. I'd start with Wikipedia

I just looked up the wiki on Shelly Glover. She's an MP from Winnipeg. She should do the same for 'Tom Flanagan.' I mean, not only is he a nice guy and interested in my research, but he's also one of the preeminent conservative thinkers in Canada. Oh yeah, he was also Chief of Staff to Harper, manager of the 2004 campaign, and longtime gadfly and pundit. He also helped recruit Stephen Harper into politics and then recruit him back into politics. So, you know, he's more important than a lot of people.

Shelley Glover, if this video can be believed, doesn't know who he is.

One can only conclude two things about Shelley Glover. She's been completely unengaged in debates in her own movement for the last ten to twenty years (and hasn't even been told about them by her staff). Or she's disingenuous. Neither is very becoming.

Update: the full video is here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Things you don't want to know about Air Canada

When Air Canada is creating a detailed list of the contents of your
bag for purposes of searching they will not record that you have a
phone in your bag. The reason? Because their ground staff can access
the list and cannot be trusted to not look for the bag with the
intention of stealing said phone. This inspires great confidence.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Michael Ignatieff in (my) classroom

The Star has a piece today on Ignatieff's university tour, which is set to begin this week. As it happens, he's going to be making two stops in Ontario, one at McMaster and one the University of Toronto-Mississauga. Mostly by virtue of the size of my class, it's subject matter, and it's timing, he'll be hosting his session in my class. This should be interesting, as members of the public join my 300 or so students to ask him questions for two hours. Regardless of your feelings on Ignatieff, it's a great opportunity for students to see and question a politician up close. And it's also good for our democracy to have our politicians talking openly with citizens. 

I'll report on how it goes, especially on the tough, great questions I am sure my students will pose!

Three songs I am digging

1.) Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" from the Rolling Thunder Review. That's T-Bone Burnett to Dylan's right. This version moves a long a lot harder than the earlier version, and includes some of my preferred verses. I am particularly found of: "I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail/Poisoned in the bushes, and blown out on the trail/Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged by the corn/"Come in", she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm." It always reminds me of blowing out my suspension on the road from Marsabit to Isiolo. We weren't hunted on that road, but as night fell we might as well have been. 
2.) Ron Hyne's "A Good Dog is Lost." Hines tells the story of seeing a lost dog poster in a store. The sign only reads "A good dog is lost." But, what it really says is that the owner cannot believe that a dog they so loved has run away. In the next stanza, he sings "somewhere out there night upon a darkened street, running breathless with a wild beating heart, in all directions on four tiny feet, calling 'Hey there stranger, I can hardly believe, someone that I love so much has forgotten about me." In the end, it's not really about a dog. 
3.) Jim Bryson's live version of "Somewhere Else." Listen to him turn up in the middle and end of the second line. It's incredibly well delivered and wistful. Bryson's an absolute treasure. 

Snow in Geneva

I am sitting at a coffeeshop at Geneva's airport. There was six inches of snow last night, so the airport is shut down. People are everywhere. Delays and cancellations are the order of the day. And yet, no one seems too fussed. It's very interesting to see. As for me, I'll be crossing my fingers that I get into Toronto seven hours later than expected. I've had to cancel a dinner for tonight, but things could be much, much worse. I could be a fish on someone's plate, or I could be someone who's never flown to Geneva. It's worth remembering, even if a single espressos cost 4 francs.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Plus that bottle of wine...

I suppose this is also the time I should note that someone in baggage handling stole a bottle of wine from a bag I checked with Air Canada in September. It was a gift from a friend that he asked I give my parents. It was not a cheap bottle by any means. I called lost baggage and sent an email. I heard nothing. I hope the schmuck enjoyed the bottle. 

sent by email

Geneva with no jacket

I have been in Geneva for the last three days. It's been quite a fun time. I was invited by the Swiss political science association to talk a bit about genopolitics. And I've been working with a great colleague on a new paper. On top of it all, Geneva has been charming the way European cities are in winter. Cars cannot deal with snow here, but the trains go on, everywhere there are people bundled against the snow, and the restaurants are still full of interesting people on the inside and (presumably interesting) smokers on the outside. 

The only drawback is that I have been bearing all of this without a coat. 

I put my winter jacket in my bag at Pearson. My bag never arrived in Geneva. I suspect it is still in Frankfurt, where I missed my connection and had to catch a plane four hours later.

I received some compensation at the airport, but it was only enough to buy a sweater and shirt and to pay for some of a new pair of jeans. I also bought a scarf and hat. I've avoided buying another jacket, because in the first place I feel that I can bare it in a blazer and, in the second, I really don't need to buy another winter coat. But three days have passed and I am starting to get worried. It's only made worse by the fact that one is given just a phone number with a tracking number that indicates whether the bg is found. There is no other news. 

I think there's a lesson for airlines in this. We remember our losses much more starkly than we remember our gains. I've had a great string of positive experiences with Air Canada recently, e.g. the upgrade to business class I have received on my last four flights. But this is quickly forgotten when their partners cannot adequately handle the transfer of bags. The worry I feel about having to replace clothes and a suitcase that I quite like far outweigh the positive affect of upgrades.  

In the meantime, I am enjoying Geneva, if not the cold. 

posted by email