Wednesday Night #1600

Written by  //  October 29, 2012  //  Marc Thébaud Nicholson, Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

With the Great Pumpkin from Singapore




An auspicious anniversary marking 30 years+ of Wednesday Nights (you do the math) which we will mark with Halloween goblins, monsters, witches and ghosts  (no, no, we are not referring to our guests) … and riding in on his broomstick from Singapore, our very own Great Pumpkin, Marc. His may not be the only arrival, although the  ‘Frankenstorm’ headed for Eastern Canada and the U.S.will be considerably less welcome. [Update: Global Montreal | ‘Super-storm’ heading to Canada’s East Coast just in time for Halloween – Halifax and Montreal likely to feel the brunt]
As we have commented elsewhere, we believe the storm is Mother Nature’s revenge for the absence of discussion of climate change in the US elections. Maybe she is trying to tell Stephen Harper something as well. As we have commented elsewhere, we believe the monstrous storm is Mother Nature’s revenge for the absence of discussion of climate change in the US elections. Levity aside, our thoughts are with all our friends and Friends of Wednesday Night in the path of the storm.

Naturally, we could not get beyond the first paragraph without mentioning the elections – after all, this Wednesday is the last before the crucial vote. There is some cheerful news for the majority of Wednesday Nighters who are Obama supporters; Robert Shrum writes “As Mitt Romney’s ‘surge’ erodes, the Republican nominee’s campaign faces reality. Across the swing states, the polls show the president holds the advantage.” However, Slate’s John Dickerson maintains that Mittmentum Is Real In these final days, we have entered the silly season – with a plethora of Halloween-worthy scare tactics – or as the CBC put it Behold the bogus bombshells, birther blather and tendentious tweets. And Foreign Policy offers The 10 worst foreign policy campaign ads of 2012 But some are vicious and not to be taken so lightly, e..g. a new anti-Obama DVD that is being dropped into voters’ mailboxes claiming the president is the love child of his mother and Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist Party loyalist, as reported by the New York Times , which also noted the DVD producer had previously claimed to have tracked down Elvis Presley in the witness protection program. Now there’s a Halloween story for you!  Will we see little Anne Coulters, Donald Trumps and Koch brothers out on the streets trick or treating?

Or maybe we should look for little Stephen Harpers accompanied by the democracy zombie. The latest cause of concern is, of course the grandiosely titled (and misnomered)  Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). As many others, but notably Michael Den Tandt (see Ready to be BFFs with China?), point out :
“This deal has not been debated in the House, let alone more broadly across Canada. There has been thus far, a total of one hour of committee time devoted to its study. Yet, once in place, it cannot be abrogated for 15 years. Once notice is given, it expires within one year – in theory. Article 35 states that, as regards any investments made “prior to the date of termination,” the agreement remains in place for an additional 15 years – extending its practical span to 31 years, at minimum.” On Thursday, Conservative MPs defeated a last minute push for Parliamentary hearings on the treaty. Nonetheless, as hope springs eternal, we have signed An Open Letter to Harper: STOP FIPA

In the myth-debunking category, Pierre Martin writes for the CIC ‘s that despite the opinions of  numerous pundits and economists, historically a Democrat in the White House is better for Canada and backs up his thesis with a couple of interesting tables.

In a week of little good news, the amazing recovery of Malala Yousafzai stands out. Not only has she started walking and talking, but she has also asked for schoolbooks to be brought to the hospital.

As the changing of the guard in China fast approaches, the leadership faces the dilemma of dealing with their complicated relationship with political corruption. On the one hand, there’s prosecution of Bo Xilai and on the other, revelations about fortunes amassed by Premier Wen Jiabao (New York Times blocked by China after report on wealth of Wen Jiabao’s family — Authorities censor publication after revelations that the premier’s relatives have accumulated billions during his leadership) and Vice-President Xi Jinping (Xi Jinping Millionaire Relations Reveal Fortunes of Elite). Interestingly,”an official magazine controlled by Mr. Xi has recently promoted Singapore – where political leaders are paid millions in official salaries and thus perceived as incorruptible – as a model China’s rulers should look to as they ponder political reforms.” China’s new leader contemplates Singapore model of authoritarian capitalism

Which brings us back to our Singapore Pumpkin who will no doubt wish to praise his real sincere pumpkin patch – at least when it comes to business — Singapore is most business-friendly for 7th year straight … the Doing Business report by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) … noted that the improvements made to Singapore’s regulatory environment have been minimal each year, and that the next few economies in the rankings have been closing the gap. He may also have something to say about the new Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) – which will focus on three areas including How the Government communicates in the Internet age. According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (not quite sure what exactly that title implies) Grace Fu, Singapore is seeking solutions to similar problems to those of Canada, a low birth rate and aging population -and needs to strive for quality growth driven by productivity and innovation, not labour – to ensure sustainable wage growth, keeping citizens employed and socially mobile. Canada – and Quebec – could certainly learn from this effort, but it hardly seems likely that either would listen very attentively these days. One other area of continuing interest to Wednesday Night is Education; what of the Yale/National University of Singapore partnership?

Just in case you have forgotten – there is another appropriately-scheduled event on October 31st – the fall session of the new (minority) PQ government – Be afraid, very afraid!

To end on a light academic note: this delightful piece has prompted a delicious exchange between some of last Wednesday’s participants (see Comments below) Back From Yet Another Globetrotting Adventure, Indiana Jones Checks His Mail And Discovers That His Bid For Tenure Has Been Denied.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1600"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson October 27, 2012 at 1:34 am ·

    From: Peter Frise
    ….True – or he could just take out his bull-whip and sort out any issues using the same set of experimental techniques he uses in his field work.

    From: “Antal Deutsch, Prof.”
    This can be solved by academic gamesmanship, depending on the folkways of the particular institution. Jones can send messages containing his views on agenda issues to the Secretary of the Committee, with instructions to be read out at the meeting. Jones, or the chair of the Committee can arrange for teleconferencing (Skype minus the video) the meetings. Jones may appoint another member of the Committee to act as his proxy in his absence. Jones can take a strong position on the losing side of some issue, and declare that he cannot in good conscience attend further meetings, until the wrong has been righted, thus act on principle, whether he is in town or not. Where there is a will, there is a way! Tony

    From: Peter Frise
    Indeed – how can Jones serve on the Departmental Closet Space Allocation Committee and attend the bi-daily meetings if he is always off galavanting around shooting people and dodging giant granite balls rolling and falling into pits of snakes.
    For goodness sakes man – get your priorities straight!
    Dr. Peter Frise, FCAE, FEC, P.Eng.

    From: “Antal Deutsch, Prof.”
    The absences are the real killer. Tony

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