So I am finally back from sunny Portugal.
June 28th, 2013

So I am finally back from sunny Portugal. Just a few days ago I was sitting in a café on the magnificent central square in Lisbon (see above), sipping a cold cocktail and gawking at the citizens coping with mid- ‘thirties heat. Back in Canada now, catching up in much cooler climes. Yes, the weather is better and the Portuguese can do more inventive things with cod than all the chefs in Newfoundland, but the day after we left there was a long-planned general strike and the entire public transportation system came to an abrupt halt. For weeks the two largest unions in the country had been marshalling citizens to rally against the austerity measures taken up by the government, following in the path of so many European nations. Sun, history, cod, and vino verde notwithstanding, Canada is a much more stable country. (more…)

This postcard comes to you this week from Porto, Portugal…
June 21st, 2013

This postcard comes to you this week from Porto, Portugal, home of the finest ports in the world, and, arguably, the world’s best salt cod (bacalhau) dishes. I have already had quite a few of such meals, doing a comparative analysis, of course. That’s the Douro River and embankment as seen from the Louis V bridge.

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I am actually at home and in my cluttered office this week…
June 14th, 2013

I am actually at home and in my cluttered office this week, but missed last week’s blog because I was far away in Victoria, B.C. and the whole time zone wonkiness wouldn’t allow for the blogging deadline. The occasion was the annual Congress of humanities and social sciences learned societies. About 7500 scholars showed up for a week on the sunny campus of University of Victoria to present papers and share in some big thinking. Every day was full of surprises and inspired conversations, but some highlights were dynamite addresses by notables such as Louise Arbor and Daniel Weinstock. At rich moments like those I always wish there were some smart journalists in the room who would get why it is well worth pursuing humanities and social science programs. Both speakers make strong cases for the value of agile, critical thinking.  There is nothing more pleasurable than hearing someone make good lucid sense about the mess of the world in the most elegant, articulate and helpful ways. I’d go to Congress every year all over again just to hear talks like those.

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Postcards From the Edge will return next week, as the Dean of Graduate Studies is out of town, and away from her computer
June 7th, 2013