Wednesday Night #2024

Written by  //  December 30, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Happy Birthday, Marc Nicholson!

No matter how grim or discouraging the news, there is always a flash of brilliance in some quarter. This week, it is 10-year-old Veronika Zilina’s extraordinary, flawless skating performance

This awful year may have reset our ability to appreciate happiness
Experts think that after months of depriving ourselves of everyday pleasures we once took for granted, our newfound appreciation for the little things might actually last beyond 2020

And this happy note: Soon-to-be first dogs Champ and Major Biden star in adorable Christmas video

Thank you to Matthew Cope for this wonderful reminder that there is a logic even when we have no idea what the logic is:
Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: “opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can’t exist.”

One day more … an old Irish tradition is to open your door at midnight on New Year’s Eve to let the Old Year Out and the New Year In. This year, make sure all doors, windows, and garage doors are open! We cannot remember another year that we have been happier to end. True, there have been other years when more terrible things have happened, but it’s hard to imagine any year so punctuated with developments that made us say “just when I thought things could not get worse…”

Many, if not most, of them have originated in the U.S. -within the White House or fomented by actions or words of the occupant of the Oval Office.
Thank heavens for Heather Cox Richardson’s coolly analytical newsletters every morning that interpret what is happening and very often give it historical context. We are particularly in need of her help today in sorting through the McConnell v. Trump confrontation over coronavirus relief checks.
I have been promoting Professor Richardson’s daily newsletter for some time now and was delighted to learn that she (and her newsletter) is the breakout star of the newsletter platform Substack, doing the opposite of most media as she calmly situates the news of the day in the long sweep of American history.

Senior vice president of the Council on Foreign Affairs James Lindsay writes “[f]our years ago stories appeared asking whether 2016 was the worst year ever. Well, 2020 has 2016 beat. You would have to go back to 1968 to find a year filled with as much turmoil.” The concluding paragraph of Ten Most Significant World Events in 2020 identifies other stories to note in 2020, many of which you may have overlooked or almost forgotten.

On Christmas Eve, the EU and UK signed a trade deal, specifying new rules for how the UK and EU will live, work and trade together under Brexit.
Jonathan Powell, who was Tony Blair’s chief of staff and chief British negotiator in Northern Ireland from 1997-2007, argues the UK has performed disastrously in Brexit negotiations. “Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of Brexit, purely in terms of negotiating technique, it is an object lesson in how not to do it.”
Meanwhile, in what might be termed a footnote, the fate of Gibraltar under the new agreement has not yet been decided.

Cleo Paskal‘s fascinating interview on China uncensored Canada’s Pro-China Deep State
A Pro-China deep state in Canada has been evolving for decades. It all ties into Canadian history that you probably don’t know about—how Canada got close to China and the Chinese Communist Party, and how that lead to the Chinese military being invited to military training drills in Canada, or pressure on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cave on the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou for the release of two Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor who have been imprisoned in China.

Jeremy Kinsman: A saner, less fragmented world in 2021 – Only 20 years ago, Canadian diplomacy was at the front end of the post-Cold War effort to design and anchor new inclusive norms for international governance. Do we still have the stuff, the will and ability, to be a key player again?

The world has lost many notable figures this year, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John le Carré; Andrew Cohen writes fondly of A quartet of formidable voices lost to journalism: John Gray, Bill Johnson, Allan Fotheringham and Richard Gwyn were superb at their craft in the golden age of newspapers. All lived big lives.

As Bloomberg reminds us “2020 was a monumental year for just about every kind of news, and climate news was no exception. As the world reeled from the shocks of the coronavirus pandemic, racial tension, and economic collapse, it also dealt with deadly heat, hellacious wildfires, and the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history.” But then: “We may also remember 2020, however, as the year the world started to reverse centuries of damage to the climate.”

Long reads
Bloomberg’s surprisingly positive review of
The Biggest Climate Change Stories of 2020

Columbia University Earth Institute: A Year in Review: What to Take Forward From 2020
In many ways, the events of 2020 have exposed the brokenness of 2019’s status quo – institutions riddled with injustice and systems ill-equipped to handle compounding disasters. Perhaps true to the New Year’s tradition, though, they also offer a blueprint for what can and should come next.

‘We are not prepared’: The flaws inside Public Health that hurt Canada’s readiness for COVID-19

Year in Review: Most-Watched Television Networks — Ranking 2020’s Winners and Losers
Complete Broadcast, Cable and Pay TV Ratings Ranker for 2020 in Total Viewers and Adults 18-49
(Variety) Yes, linear TV still exists, and it’s still watched by millions of viewers. But 2020 was another tipping point for traditional television, and it’s not just because of the pandemic. What has been steady viewership erosion for broadcast and cable went into overdrive this year, despite a pandemic that should have increased or at least stabilized viewership.
Anecdotally, people did watch more TV as they stayed at home this year — but they were either watching news, or catching their favorite shows on demand.

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