Friday, April 18, 2014

The Irish Canadian Hall of Fame

Joe Malone of Les Canadiens: scored the first goal in the NHL.

Writing in the National Post today, Terence Corcoran proposes that Canada should have an Irish-Canadian Hall of Fame, with Jim Flaherty as its inaugural inductee.

I think this is a fabulous idea. The Irish contribution to Canada, I believe, is under-appreciated—one hears far more about the French, the English, and the Scots. But more than this: a celebration of Irishness would encourage Canadian unity, since Irishmen have been prominent on both sides of the French-English language divide. Both Tom Mulcair and Peter Lougheed, for example, are ethnically Irish. The Irish could be an ethnic glue to keep Canada together.

I have a further suggestion: that the Irish Canadian Hall of Fame ought to be located in Gananoque, Ontario. Gananoque is a tourist town; it could use the attraction. It is a historically Irish area. And it is roughly equidistant from the three large historical Irish settlements (and major population centres) of Montreal, Toronto, and the Ottawa Valley.

To emphasise how important the Irish have been in the history of Canada, here is my own list of potential inductees. If you don't know who some of them are, consult my Irish-Canadian historical map for more information.

Joe Beef (Charles McKeirnan)

Irish Canadian Hall of Fame:

Thomas D'Arcy McGee
Jim Flaherty
Brian Mulroney
King Clancy
Red Kelly
Timothy Eaton
Mary Travers (La Bolduc)
Joe Beef
Gratton O'Leary
Fr. Bernard Lonergan
Stompin' Tom Connors
Edward Blake
Marshall McLuhan
Sam McLaughlin
Kate & Anna McGarrigle
The Leahys
Catherine and Mary Margaret O'Hara
Francis Collins
Robert Baldwin
Emily Murphy
Lorena McKennitt
Patrick Burns
Sir Guy Carleton
St. Brendan the Navigator
Edmund O'Callaghan
James Ready
Mother Barnes
John McLaughlin
Sir John Thompson
William Henry Drummond
Brian Moore
WP Kinsella
Alden Nowlan
Mack Sennett
Ruby Keeler
Mary Pickford
Thomas Ahearn
Charles Fenerty
Tommy Ryan
Aimee Semple McPherson
Joe Malone
Don Cherry
Bobby Orr
Ambrose O'Brien
William McMaster
Conn Smythe
Peter Lougheed
James Boyle Uniacke
Charles Allison
James Austin
John Bassett
Thomas E. Kenny
Paul Kane
Tim Horton
Emile Nelligan
Patrick Roy
Bishop Michael Power
Mac Beattie

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Special on at Ogilvy's

Not as I remember it.

On my way out of Ogilvy's, I got caught in a revolving door
And never left.
I still and always see my image in that glass,
Going the opposite way.
It stays eight as I grow apparently old.
And ever and ever and ever again we spin,
Between the warm interior full of fantastic jewels
And the cold and busy street that goes one way.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Who Is Privileged?

A good rule (not my own, but I do not remember where I heard it) for figuring out who is really in the cat bird seat in a given society is to figure out who you are not allowed to criticize--at least not in polite company, or with folks you do not know well.

It pretty well goes without saying that anyone officially designated as "privileged" is not in this group.

So go to it--who is it you dassn't razz at a cocktail party of supposedly well-bred folks?

World's Best Prose Narratives

Not my field, exactly; I'm more of a poetry guy. Being a poetry guy, I dislike long, rambling books, and am drawn to language that is fine in detail. The piece also has to have a deep and powerful vision to be on this list--not just a rip-snorting read. These are books that explain the universe.

Andersen, Hans Christian, "The Princess and the Pea"
Andersen, Hans Christian, "The Emperor's New Clothes"
Burgess, Anthony, A Clockwork Orange
Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland
Carroll, Lewis, Through the Looking Glass
Conrad, Joseph, Heart of Darkness
Defoe, Daniel, Robinson Crusoe
Dostoyevsky, Feodor, Crime and Punishment
Golding, William, Lord of the Flies
Kafka, Franz, The Metamorphosis
Orwell, George, 1984
Orwell, George, Animal Farm
Wells, H. G., "In the Country of the Blind" (short story)
Wells, H.G., "The Door in the Wall" (short story)

Nope, no Joyce. Too much of a chore to read. 

Happy for suggestions re what I am missing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

RIP Jim Flaherty

As far as I have seen so far, the Canadian press, to their credit, is pussyfooting around it. But it seems most likely to me that former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty committed suicide.

He was still rather young to die by other means. He had no known life-threatening diagnoses. The timing seems striking, only weeks after he had stepped down from Cabinet. No other cause of death or apparent cause of death has been  given. He did have a very painful disease, and the treatment for it has depression as a known side effect.

Update: looks like I'm wrong. The police are now saying it was a heart attack.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

St. Thomas Aquinas on Evolution

Not only did Big Tom believe in evolution from the apes: he deliberately made himself look like a capuchin monkey.

In the recent past, I pointed out that Evolution  was no new idea with Darwin, but had been a live theory since ancient Greece. And I noted that St, Augustine assumed it. Now I discover, thanks to TOF's blog, that St. Thomas also assumed it. The money quote from Summa Theologica:

Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.

-- Summa Theologica, I.73.1 reply3
Aquinas differs from Darwin only in the mechanism, which he imagines to be "putrefaction." St. Thomas also argues nicely that evolution is the most fitting way for God to create: creating things that can themselves create other things is an intrinsically greater feat and greater good than just creating everything all at once.

The idea that there is some conflict between Christianity and evolution per se is plain wrong. The problem, for some, is with Darwin's proposed mechanism. These two issues ought not to be confused.

Is the PQ Down for the Count?

In the wake of the recent Quebec election, all the pundits are saying it is all over for the PQ, and perhaps for separatism. A new age has dawned. Quebec is opening to the outside world.

It may be so, but it is the job of pundits to see something historic in every minor event. Elections come, elections go, and this time’s big losers are entirely likely to be next time’s big winners. Witness, for example, the PQ and Liberals in Quebec, eighteen months ago. We have seen, federally, both the Conservatives and the Liberals rise again from the ash heap of history after far worse election losses than the PQ's this time out. And, if the polls are right, had the election been held two months ago, the PQ would have won. Then the narrative would have been completely different.

They ran a lousy campaign. That could be the extent of it.

In Quebec, it is indeed possible for well-established parties to suddenly disappear. Some of us still remember the mighty Union Nationale. The fact that the most recent example of a party suddenly imploding is the separatist BQ on the federal level may give added hope that something larger is happening. But it may just be coincidence. Two stars may have aligned, the personal attractiveness of Jack Layton in Quebec, and the inept PQ campaign.

It is also possible for popular sentiments to shift very quickly, so that movements that seem dead now may rise tomorrow. There was a time, not long ago, when the thought of the NDP electing anyone in Quebec seemed absurd.

I do think time is on the Federalist side; Quebec separatism is a xenophobic movement, a rearguard action against the intrusion of the modern world. But anything can still happen.