Open the Arts!

It’s unfair to say Doug Ford doesn’t like Margaret Atwood. Ten years ago he said he wouldn’t even recognize her on the street. But he was busy cutting funds to libraries when he said it. So maybe he was distracted. Then again, anyone can…

Would you all please just go away?

Getting things fantastically wrong is a specialty of mine. Years ago I was at a big luncheon in the Royal York hotel and spotted a friend from years back across the crowd of many hundreds. Her face hadn’t changed, but as I drew closer, I could…

Feats of Clay

We all have three lives, a friend once told me. Our public life, our private life, and our secret life. How many times is some Citizen of the Year revealed to be a sadistic fantasist, with us tut-tutting “You just never can tell?” This…

Streaming or Screaming?

The pandemic not only sent us all home, it threw us onto our screens. Here we dutifully started watching videos – not just by streaming movies and TV series, but by watching vastly more videos than we ever did before. Now that we can be outside…

Hell is other robots

Technology didn’t miss a beat during the pandemic. Before COVID, computer voices sounded fake and HAL-like. Now, you can hardly tell if you’re talking to a person or an AI impersonator. The same boldface-progress holds for facial recognition,…

“You can’t use an old map to explore a new world.”

Years ago we were walking through the Doge’s Palace in Venice and stumbled into the Map Room where, as far back as the 16th century, the Serenissimo Principe could view the vast reach of his Venetian empire. I got close to one of the two…

Queen Victoria is not amused

It’s her weekend and are we planting our gardens without fear they’ll freeze overnight? Are we opening our cottages, swatting the blackflies, gassing up at Tim Horton’s?  Well, we are more than last year when we were all locked up…

The Arms Race

Just as a Smith & Wesson beats four aces, so too does a 10,000-a-day vaccination site beat even these last few days of sunshine to lift our mood and signal that finally, oh my gawd, sumer is icumen in. But the oddest evidence that the…

A drop to drink

Canada has more fresh water than any country and more lakes than the rest of the world combined. So is it too much to ask that our least advantaged citizens, the elderly in long-term care homes, don’t die en masse of thirst, and that our…

Saturday soul-searching –and soul-selling.

Odds are, you’ve had at least one shot, and if you’re American or British, both. But if you’re like me, you’re still suffering from vaccine-envy. Why can they barbeque, worship and travel and we can’t? And do we have to lose two…

Newspapers, not oldspapers

Donald Trump repeatedly called it “the failing New York Times.” It sort of was until Trump took office. Then it went on a tear, fuelled by an endless supply of Trump-induced stories, and today, the Times’ stock price, circulation and…

Old toffs. Old tricks.

I went to boarding school back in the 60s when most of the ‘masters’ had degrees from Oxford or Cambridge and spoke with upper-class British accents. I was 12 and in my ‘formative years’. One lesson that’s stuck with me for over…

Time to stretch the parts of you that other days don’t.

Scientific research has two roads: curiosity-driven and problem-solving. In the first, you get to ask: “Gee, what would happen if?” In the second, you’re asking: “How can we invent a COVID vaccine?” What’s amazing is how…

Love letters

“Whatever field you are in, if it uses language, it is about to be transformed.” That’s the subhead of last week’s New Yorker article by Torontonian Stephen Marche. This is not just a big claim; it’s a stupendous and even preposterous…

Hemingway would weep

Wayne LaPierre is under fire. The head of the National Rifle Association used to lead America’s most powerful and well-funded lobby group. He  still does, despite using the NRA as his ‘personal piggy bank’, which forced New York’s…

Big ideas in small packages

Welcome to this weekend’s edition of Ramsay Writes, designed to divert our gaze from the dull and the usual, and remind us how odd and lovely life can be. 1. Tax the rich! Where you don’t expect to hear that from is the rich. But…

Feed the Arts. Grow the Nation.

Why do arts groups argue for more funds from governments and corporate sponsors by using their second-best argument for that money? It goes like this:  “The arts produce huge economic benefits: restaurants, hotels, neighbourhoods, even…

The No Diva Rule

My friend in the music business told me their staff were sent an artist profile whenever the company signed a new rising star. In the bottom right-hand corner was a little box with the letters “DQ.” This stood for “Diva Quotient”, with…