The Plague-Ground – What were you doing at 5:43 p.m. on Saturday?

At that moment, the sun was the highest it will be in the Northern Hemisphere this year and it was also The Longest Day. In fact, it was light long past 9:00 p.m. and the sun set not so much in the west, but in the north. Saturday was…

The Plague-Ground – It’s an “and-and” thing.

Toronto is one of the last places in North America still largely closed by the pandemic. Good. Because saving our lives or saving our economy isn’t an ‘either-or’ thing, though we seem hard-wired to think that way. And lord knows,…

The Plague-Ground – Stand Proud. Ok, Sit Proud then.

In America these days, pride doesn’t cometh before the fall. Lack of pride does. Yesterday, Gallup released a poll that said US National Pride Falls to Record Low. That headline caught me because I’d always thought Americans are the…

The Plague-Ground – I Didn’t Know

Denial constantly evolves in order to fulfill its destiny, which is hiding the truth. One form of denial claims: “I was just following orders,” and we all know what that was hiding. Another is: “I didn’t know.” This short list…

The Plague-Ground – What We Didn’t Know

Today is 13 weeks exactly since millions of us were told not to come back to our offices and stay home. Three months exactly. One quarter of the year exactly. A quarter of the fiscal. A season of the year. On Friday, March 13th, Jean…

The Plague-Ground – The Rise of the Online Intellectual

There’s a flood of online courses, experts and self-improvers out there, all vying for time on my screen and my day. Frankly,  I'm exhausted from all the ways I can be even better than I am. Forget “can be better.” Must! So I…

The Plague-Ground – As white as the driven snow.

Those 8 minutes and 46 seconds Derek Chauvin spent crushing the neck of George Floyd reveals another police problem that’s hiding in plain sight in Toronto as much as in Minneapolis and New York. How many policewomen have killed Black people…

The Plague-Ground – What could stop rogue cops? Insurance.

Doctors and lawyers have liability insurance. So do hairdressers and barbers. In fact, so does anyone who owns a car. Get a few speeding tickets and suddenly your premiums rocket – and either you slow down or you stop driving because the…

The Plague-Ground – Take your picture, mister?

Back in 2007 some Apple engineers fiercely resisted adding a camera to the new iPhone. “Who would ever take a picture with their phone?” It seems of the 1,436,300,000,000 digital photos and videos shot this year, enough of them are of…

The Plague-Ground – Generals

Georges Clemenceau said that war is too important to be left to the generals. But civil war? Or even civil unrest? Not if General James Mattis has his way. When Mattis resigned as Donald Trump’s hand-picked Secretary of Defense in…

The Plague-Ground – All issues are political issues

I was raised on politics and the English language. Or rather, on Politics and the English Language. That’s the title of George Orwell’s essay on how thought may corrupt language, but language also corrupts thought – and now more than…

The Plague-Ground – It’s time for an intervention

I’ve been on both sides of an intervention. Once, back in 1990 when my two great (and sadly late) friends, Arthur Gelgoot and Charles Fremes, staged an intervention that stopped my steep slide into addiction. Since then I’ve taken…

The Plague-Ground – Why can’t I read anymore?

I haven’t read a book in well over a year. Sure, I dip into books, extracting what I need for work. Often and ironically, this involves writers whom I invite to Ramsay Talks to speak about their . . . books. I also listen to books feverishly,…

The Plague-Ground – A New Kind of Political Leader

One million fewer people live in New Zealand than in the Greater Toronto Area. Yet as of last night, New Zealand has 1,504 cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. The GTA meanwhile has 10,726 cases and 801 deaths. Just as New Zealand’s success…

The Plague-Ground – What part of “now” don’t you understand?

The awful news out of our long-term care homes punctures whatever myth of exceptionalism we held about ourselves. It will be harder to claim: “We’re better than that” when cockroach infestations are a feature of how we care for the…

The Plague-Ground – It is solved by walking

My wife Jean and I once trekked 1,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail. It took us three months with our 45 lb. packs strapped to our backs as we slogged our way up and down the peaks of North America’s oldest mountains from Georgia to West…

The Plague-Ground – Librarians are first-responders

No other public library system in the world is bigger and busier than Toronto’s. Not New York. Not London. Us. Nearly 70 per cent of Torontonians use the Toronto Public Library. During the pandemic, with every one of its 100 branches…

The Plague-Ground – Are you rich?

I’ve always wanted to write a fund-raising appeal that starts with that question. You have money. We need money. Give it to us. Please. What this lacks in subtlety it makes up in reality: rich people have more of the very thing you need…