We celebrate—and I use the term loosely—St Patrick’s (Paddy’s) Day here in a big way
March 18th, 2011

We celebrate—and I use the term loosely—St Patrick’s (Paddy’s) Day here in a big way. How many other Canadian universities actually take an entire day off in honour of the blessed saint of all things Irish? The March holiday always draws out a bit of spring fever. It’s an unofficial start of the silly season, too, as everyone starts anticipating more light, warmer days, and, most critically, the end of classes.
(more…)

Recently I paid a visit to Massey College on the University of Toronto campus
March 10th, 2011

Recently I paid a visit to Massey College on the University of Toronto campus. On the invitation of this year’s Journalism Fellows, lucky members of a select, privileged group who get to hang for a year away from the crush of deadlines, I was treated to a lovely lunch and some terrific conversation at this residential home for students and scholars from around the world. Invited to speak to the fellows [sic] about the image and reputation of social sciences and humanities research in today’s science and technology market, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t? Massey is as close to the cozy community of Hogwarts as one can get in this country—without the witches and wizards and all of their nasty spells. If Massey has any trace of wizardry it’s all of the white magic kind—pure charm.  The architecture is modern medieval, an inspired brown-bricked ‘sixties concept of the cloistered university–an intellectual’s dream, really. Inhabiting the grounds of Massey is a kind of zen experience, a calm and luxurious place for the mind. Only a good long read in a soaker tub almost comes close.

(more…)

Did you hear about World Book Day—or Night?
March 4th, 2011

Did you hear about World Book Day—or Night? No, I didn’t really think so. With Charlie Sheen and Moammar Gadhafi (separated at birth?) hogging all the air time it’s pretty difficult to get through with anything else, let alone a story about books and reading.

(more…)