January 4th, 2006

[TAW] Day One

This morning's free write went easily enough, unsurprisingly since writing early in the morning is something that I do a lot. Just check the time stamps on some of my posts. The trick, as always, is to sustain the trend.

[LINK] "For Kundera, Paris is less unbearable than Prague"

The 2002 Robert Fulford article of this name, originally published in the National Post, provides an interesting sort of riposte to arguments about the necessity of maintaining primordial identities.

In historic perspective, there's nothing out of the ordinary in Milan Kundera's decision to live abroad. He's following the path of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and Mavis Gallant, as well as Conrad and Nabokov. But those writers didn't escape resentment, and neither can he. We all have certain expectations. Our tradition dictates that emigration is a tragedy and expatriates should be afflicted by melancholy. Mr. Kundera looks with a cool eye on the notion that nostalgia is admirable. He traces it to The Odyssey, "the great founding epic of nostalgia." Homer, he thinks, gave nostalgia a special place in the "moral hierarchy of emotions." Those who do not feel it are assumed to lack an essential element in their ethical and emotional make-up.

[. . .]

In the past, Mr. Kundera has devoted many pages to the cultural richness of the Czechs. Now, perhaps embittered by the responses to himself and his work, he sees them as mean-spirited and doggedly provincial. Eventually we understand a major point he's making: It was not just communism and Russian imperialism that [Kundera] fled after the Russian tanks arrived in Prague in 1968. It was also emotional and intellectual suffocation.

There's more at the article above. Why don't you go read it?
  • Current Music
    Kylie Minogue, "Slow"

[BRIEF NOTE] On the Sad Events in West Virginia

The tragedy at Sago keeps getting worse, not least with the cruel inversion of the casualty figures that erins_pub was caught by, like me and who knows how many other people. gamoonbat's examination of the background of the Sago mine and its owner, the International Coal Company, reinforces my opinion that coal isn't the sort of energy resource we should build an energy-intensive society on, for economic and for human reasons. It also revives my memories of the apparently comparable Westray Mine Disaster in Nova Scotia back in 1992. My sympathies go out to the miners.

On a related note, springheel_jack has discovered that Samuel Alito, nominee for the US Supreme Court, wanted to limit the scope of the US' Mine and Safety Act. As he notes, Alito's proposed changes wouldn't have saved the lives of the Sago miners.

[LINK] Independence, the Caribbean, and Development

INSEE's Greater Caribbean Survey 2004 serves as a useful overview of the economic development of the Caribbean basin region. With the exceptions of the large and relatively developed continental states of Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Costa Rica, it looks as if, for the insular Caribbean, independence and development--especially economic development--don't correlate at all. Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana fill three of the top five positions in the human development rankings.
  • Current Mood

[URBAN NOTE] Sunny Dragon, 519 Bloor Street West

Sunny Dragon (519 Bloor Street West), located squarely in the heart of The Annex, was built in the shell of an abandoned McDonald's. Although I noticed when I entered the doors early this evening that the owners did a good job of refurbishing the place, they still kept the classic faux-wood floor tiles. Sunny Dragon is notable mainly for being the first Korean-style Chinese restaurant I've seen, its name apparently repeated in hangul script and in Traditional Chinese characters. Perhaps the restaurant is associated with Korea's Chinese minority, long subject to discrimination in the South as Kyung-Tae Park's working paper "Discriminating Invisible Minorities: The Experience of Ethnic Chinese in Korea" outlines, perhaps not. That's one of the mysteries I meditated over as I ate my noodles in stir-fried black bean sauce with beef, that and the mysteries of a South Korean television show played on the ubiquitous monitors, some sort of a competition between a mixed-gender crowd of teenagers who danced to American hip-hop before going on to joust with giant pompoms on sticks while apparently mocking each other. The noodles were good, mind.

[URBAN NOTE] Los Angelenos have their car, Torontonians the bus

A pedestrian got hit by a car in front of the Dufferin Mall this evening, closing down the southbound bus lane to traffic and forcing my regular bus to divert along Lansdowne to College, away from that shopping centre.

What surprised me was the rather high proportion of people boarding the bus who were apparently taking it only to the mall. I've walked that distance dozens of times, and I can confirm that it's only a five-minute walk if that.

At least it's only public transit that Torontonians are abusing. Imagine the greenhouse-gas emissions if everyone took their car one or two hundred metres down the street.
  • Current Music
    Public Enemy, "Fight the Power"