A dose of COVID-19 reality

We need to put the numbers in context, take a close look at Germany's health-care system and be prepared to exit the lockdown

A dose of COVID-19 realityLast week’s column was my first on COVID-19. Here are some further thoughts. Numbers in context A perpetual peeve relates to raw numbers being headlined without reference to the relevant denominator. If you don’t have that context, you get a potentially misleading story. COVID-19 deaths are a striking example. There’s been much focus on the…

COVID-19 will prompt a rethink of globalization

In the wake of COVID-19, we need to reconfigure our economy and society so they are less vulnerable to external shocks

COVID-19 will prompt a rethink of globalizationAmerican historian Frank Snowden pulls no punches. He says the “coronavirus is emphatically a disease of globalization.” And the most severe blows strike at cities that are “densely populated and linked by rapid air travel, by movements of tourists, of refugees, all kinds of businesspeople, all kinds of interlocking networks.” In this respect, the virus…

Are Trump and Sanders two sides of the same coin?

Their experiences in gaining traction as presidential candidates certainly suggest so, even if their ideologies are markedly different

Are Trump and Sanders two sides of the same coin?Despite appearing to be polar opposites, do U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders actually have a lot in common? Are they perhaps two sides of the same coin, two peas in a pod? Let’s consider. The hostile takeover Neither Trump nor Sanders emerged as presidential candidates with the blessing of party establishments.…

Flu pandemic of 1918 brutal, virulent killer

One hundred years ago, a flu pandemic swept across the world, killing tens of millions of people, particularly those in the prime of life

Flu pandemic of 1918 brutal, virulent killerFrom the wet and windswept northwest of Ireland to rural southwestern Ontario, the flu pandemic of 1918 to 1920 was remorseless. My mother and my wife’s father lost siblings to an illness where death might come within 24 hours of first symptoms. And sometimes it was particularly brutal. Historian John Barry has described it this…

The Black Death and its aftermath

Surprisingly, post-Black Death populations tended to live longer and enjoy better health and standards of living

The Black Death and its aftermathBubonic plague came to England in the summer of 1348. Popularly known as the Black Death, the disease arrived via a French ship that docked in what is now Weymouth on the south coast. From there, it spread rapidly inland and westwards over the water to Ireland. It was also transmitted across the North Sea…

Calling Elvis: When the King came home from the army

Calling Elvis: When the King came home from the armyElvis Presley was no more immune to the draft than other young American men of his era. Having reached eligible age, he was medically examined, declared physically fit and duly called up. Apart from his training period, his entire two-year army stint was spent in what was then West Germany. And the lead up to…

In praise of trashy paperbacks

What could be bad about stories that are pacey, and replete with nefarious dealings, treachery, passion and lust? They're great fun and you won't nod off reading them

In praise of trashy paperbacksApart from childhood forays into the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott, most of my fiction reading was done in the 1960s and 1970s. And the ubiquity of reasonably-priced paperback novels was a huge facilitator. A goodly portion of what I consumed can be described as respectable. Somerset Maugham, John O’Hara and…

The American melodrama after Super Tuesday

Many smart and highly educated people live in a bubble, and are shocked, shocked when the hoi polloi don't agree with them

The American melodrama after Super TuesdayYou’ve got to admit that the ongoing melodrama south of the border is gripping stuff. Aficionados of American politics are like kids in a candy store. From the Democratic caucus fiasco in Iowa to the turnaround of Super Tuesday, it’s been all drama all the way. If you wrote a fictional script along these lines,…

Justin Trudeau’s leadership failure

Leadership is complicated. Character counts, as do vision, competence, judgment and the ability to persuade or inspire. The PM misses the mark

Justin Trudeau’s leadership failureLooking at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the ongoing blockade fiasco, it’s difficult to avoid comparison with how his father, Pierre Trudeau, dealt with the 1970 October Crisis. Faced with the revolutionary FLQ’s kidnappings of British trade commissioner James Cross and Quebec provincial cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, the senior Trudeau moved decisively as prime…

Ireland on the cusp of political upheaval

Should Sinn Fein come to power, it’ll be interesting to see how they deliver results. Making promises is easy. Getting a job done is different

Ireland on the cusp of political upheavalIreland’s recent election produced an unusual result. You might call it downright peculiar. Or maybe just momentous. Irish politics has been dominated for the past century by two parties whose origins derive from the civil war that followed the establishment of an independent Irish state. In many cases, family voting patterns were faithfully handed down…
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