China: empires come and empires go … and come back again

Thanks Jane for your as ever insight and thoughtful prose. I look forward to all the NY Times articles.

Robby Robin's Journey

The New York Times is running a 5-part series on China, and it makes for fascinating reading and plenty of thinking. The first article, this past Saturday, was entitled “The Land that failed to fail”. The second article appeared almost immediately thereafter, called “The American dream is alive. In China.” Both titles give you a sense that there is a lot to absorb and understand about China, both past and present. In the so-called West, for decades we were accustomed to thinking of China as a poor dictatorship, a developing country under oppressive rule. As things started to change in the aftermath of the truly failed “Cultural Revolution” of Chairman Mao, the West may have come to see that China was indeed “on the move”, becoming a success story for a developing country. But there is so, so much more to the China story. It has a very…

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In the groove

Wow, this is very concise and insightful, thanks Barry!

I can't believe it!

Human societies get so stuck in a collective mental groove, like a railroad track, that they cannot see a way out of the predicaments caused by being in that groove. Take ‘jobs’. As automation gradually replaces many of the jobs that make society work today, we worry about where the future jobs are going to come from. For instance, what are all those lorry/taxi/delivery drivers going to do to earn a living when transport is automated? How are we going to generate enough taxes to adequately provision the public sphere and feed those who don’t have jobs?

The only answer is to get out of the groove.

  • Why do we need a 5-day-week job, why not 4 or 3 days?
  • Why does everybody have to have a ‘job’?
  • Why not a basic income for everyone that provides for minimal subsistence?
  • Why do countries across the world need to compete economically…

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Hopeless Realism

Hopeless Realism 19th November 2018 Share 170 No effective means of stopping climate breakdown is deemed “politically realistic”. So we must change political realities. By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 14th November 2018 It was a moment of the kind that changes lives. At a press conference held by Extinction Rebellion last week, two [...]

How to lead a good life, from an unlikely source

Thanks again Jane for some great advice, and I have always been amazed by the differences between cats and dogs.

Robby Robin's Journey

There’s no doubt about it, we’re not all going to agree on what constitutes a “good life”. Some people will measure a good life in terms of good health, some in terms of their wealth, some in terms of the strength of their circle of family and friends, and some by personal accomplishments. Others will measure a good life by the fulfilment they feel from contributing to making the world a better place, however small that contribution may seem. The list is long. As has become abundantly clear recently, we’re never all going to agree on what making the world a better place means, but hopefully we can all agree that making others feel good helps us feel good, too. That’s a good starting point. In fact, in Cynthia Reyes’ excellent blog post today, she makes the point that when life brings you disappointments and you struggle to get past…

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American Spy Plane Detects Canadians Conducting Peace Exercises Along US Border

The Out And Abouter

img_8306 Alarming footage of Canadians engaging in peace games within sight of the U.S. border. A clear provocation.

In a flagrant escalation of their agenda of utter non-aggression, and a continuation of their publicly stated desire to just get along, the Canadians have today made good on their threats to conduct large-scale peace games in close proximity to the uncontested Canada-U.S. border. 

A spokesperson for the CIA has released footage of the Canadians engaging in such inflammatory actions as looking at the United States border, playing pick-up hockey in close proximity to said border (while openly inviting their American counterparts to join them), and waving good-naturedly. The images were reportedly captured by a high-altitude surveillance drone that was sent aloft to search for signs of Democrats illegally using democracy to win elections. It was while doing this that the spy plane stumbled across the Canuck’s worryingly inoffensive actions.

“It appears the Canadians…

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100 Years Ago

Excellent article on the difficulty of staying positive in our negative culture.


One hundred years ago today, the guns fell silent.

war memorial photo Newfoundland War Memorial. Photo credit: Tom Clift

They fell silent, that is, on the battlefields of the First World War. A last few men died on the morning of November 11, in response to orders that the men at the top had already decided were meaningless. Then, at the pre-arranged time of 11:00 a.m., everyone stopped shooting. It was so simple, after all: just stop shooting.

Of course, the guns started up again soon enough. In other places, and then, twenty-one years later, in the same places. They have rarely fallen silent, ever since we invented guns. Before that, we had quieter ways to kill each other, but we’ve never stopped.

Every Remembrance Day, we pause in our different ways to remember all the dead and wounded in all our wars. We remember on the day that commemorates the end of…

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Giant ‘Get Well Soon’ Card Appears On American Side Of US-Canada Border

I love the satire here, thanks!

The Out And Abouter

At 7 metres higher than the Statue of Liberty, the card is the largest gift ever presented to the United States by a foreign country.

LAKE OF THE ISLES, NY – Signed by over 35 million Canadians, with messages in more than 50 different languages, a 100-metre high sympathy card appeared on the American side of the stunning Thousand Islands Border Crossing this morning, apparently in response to the United States taking a first step last night on the road to recovering from a particularly virulent bout of popumonia – one that’s been accompanied by a worrying numbness in its rural extremities.

“Glad to hear you’re starting to feel a little better!” read one of the lower notes, written at eye height in the enormous card, which was found balancing precariously on the ancient exposed granite of the Frontenac Axis that links the two nations; an undulating spine of stone…

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Never despair

Thanks for the positive thoughts!

I can't believe it!

World affairs can sometimes lead us into a trough of despair. Gandhi must have felt this sometimes in his battles for truth and justice. I just came across this quote which gives hope in difficult times:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
Mahatma Gandhi

It also reminds me of EF Schumacher’s words at the end of A Guide for the Perplexed (pub 1977):

“Can we rely on it that a ‘turning around’ will be accomplished by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world? This question is often asked, but whatever answer is given to it will mislead. The answer ‘Yes’ would lead to complacency; the answer ‘No’ to despair. It is desirable…

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“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

Thanks Jane for a wonderful article.

Robby Robin's Journey

Boy, these days we really are not seeing mankind at its best, especially in politics. Maybe outside the news cycle there are some uplifting stories and signs of hope, but if so, sadly, it’s not coming from inspiration from most of our leaders. Or is it?

A few weeks ago was Fall Convocation at my university, the University of New Brunswick (UNB). I’m sure there were fall convocation ceremonies at post-secondary schools all around the continent. And I’m sure that the new graduates heard words of wisdom from convocation addresses at nearly all of these ceremonies. But none of them could have been more sincere or compelling that the addresses shared with our newest UNB graduates. These are the kinds of stories that inspire and hopefully encourage our young graduates – our future – to find their own path to making our world a better place. And if they choose…

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