Musings of a Canadian Slacker

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
On Pierre Berton.

Pierre Berton was a writer whose work helped to define what we think about our nation and its past. 'Professional' historians often deride his work as too accessible and not properly sourced. But, for all that, far more Canadians have bought and read his work than will have ever even heard the names of those Ph.D bearing scoffers. As a person who has spent some time studying history, I am of two minds about Berton: I would have liked him to have spent more time sourcing his material. On the other hand, I loved several of his books, particular favorites being the War of 1812/ Flames across the Border series, and I like how they draw people into the 'story' of this country. The very best historians would be those who could combine Berton's skill for narrative with a professional ability to deal with sources and the other detail work of history. Pierre Berton produced some 47 books over his 84 years, and died today at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

Hat tip: Damian.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
I was listening to CBC Radio One's As it Happens this evening. (Not a normal listen for me: their rather tweedy leftish slant and their voices grate on me) They were interviewing a 'friend' of Margaret Hassan. This so called friend started out rather normally, talking about the unfortunate apparent killing of Ms. Hassan by terrorists of one stripe or another in Iraq. But I kept hearing jarring notes in his speech...he kept mentioning the destruction wrought by the US and by the "US-inspired" sanctions and so forth. Then I knew I had an asshat on my radio when he started in on how we should talk to the "terrorist NGOs" (his words, no shit) and try to work through the problems that way. I just swore out loud in my kitchen (thereby scandalizing my roommates). I yelled back at the radio: you dumbass! These filthy swine kill your friend and you want to talk to them and listen to their feelings?

After the interview all became clear though: the announcer mentioned his name, which I didn't properly hear, and his former job: Undersecretary-general of the United Nations. As the Germans say, Alles Klar!