Friday, October 30, 2009

Steve Paikin! Live Taping of TVO's The Agenda

The Agenda aired live from the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto. My colleague and I were fortunate enough to score tickets for seating in the live audience! The host, Steve Paikin, was charming. Paikin requested that I pick up his script from the floor and read aloud, should he fall into cardiac arrest. I interpreted Paikin's directive as a sign of his severe dedication to the job; how loyal!

The Agenda is a current affairs program produced by TVOntario. Much like the host, Paikin, the program is an intellectual gem. Topics are select and explored in-depth. Panel members span geographic, political, and professional globes. Interaction between guests and viewers is most democratic, with a variety of communications being promoted, including podcasts, blogs, live web submissions, and live audiences. At times, the ubiquitous channels of communication seem in excess. I am happier, though, to have such varied access.

View a free videocast of the episode I attended, 20 Years Later: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, at

*images have been captured by myself

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vandana Shiva's Earth Democracy; Oxymoron?

In celebration of World Food Day, Vandana Shiva spoke of Earth Democracy: Food Freedom and Ecological Balance at the Hart House Theatre, University of Toronto.

Is Earth Democracy an oxymoron? Are these two terms / concepts / structures / entities harmoniously opposed? Where earth is a natural manifestation and democracy is a civil manifestation, does Earth Democracy generate clash or harmony between the natural and civil worlds?

Anarchists (Bankunin, Kropotkin etc.) distinguished between two categories of rights: i) natural rights, and ii) civil rights.

Natural rights are governed by natural laws. Even today, many communities, such as tribes, reside in the jungle / bush / outback where natural elements of earth wind fire water administer natural rights to food shelter light peace. Natural rights are inherent to sheer existence to which we become entitled instantaneously upon successful entrance into the world (or, rather, successful exit from the womb).

Civil rights, by contrast, are governed by civil laws. Civil rights are demanded, drafted, legislated, defended and are, thus, constructions of a human order; not a natural order.

•Natural earth is not a civil democracy. What is, then, the socio- politico- economic-order of earth, if any?
•Does natural earth lend itself to being governed by civil democracy?
•How does the natural order of earth change when we orient it to a more civil order of democracy? Are the results favourable or less than favourable?
•Can democracy help us to cultivate earth in a manner that is more equitable sustainable effectual? Or, is tension created when we re-organize natural earth as a civil democracy?

**images courtesy of

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Best Store in the World - Visit Smash.To

Ionda swears that Smash is the best store in the world. She is lovely gorgeous stylish glamourous; do not bother trying to disagree with this creature of grace, and, especially, because Smash has the goods to back up their claim. Self-proclaimed as a "best source of quality salvage materials, vintage fixtures and character architectural pieces", I cannot capture in words a better description.

Smash is, in fact, the best store in the world. I dare you to prove us (i.e. Ionda and myself) otherwise. I have had the privilege of sorting through the junkiest wildest of markets; Portobello and Camden in London, Porta Pese in Rome, Janpath and Chandni Chowk in New Delhi, Chor Bazaar in Bombay, Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, Kensington Market in Toronto, (just playing). Smash is impressive.

What sets apart Smash? The goods are on a size so grand so impressive so stunning so surprisingly affordable! A grandiose flag of the Union Jack drapes the wall behind the cash register. A spiral staircase (from the brownstone era?) cushions a corner in the far back. A metres-wide mural of Vegas, painted by a Chicago-based artist, has caught the attention of a museum. Several pieces are rented for film shootings.

I had my eye on a vintage punch card holder which (during some decade) displayed when employees signed-in and -out of work. I imagine it can display my postcards.

Learn more about Smash at Smash.To and Browse their inventory at

**images courtesy of

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In the Loop (2009)

Step into a circus of policy and politics. Committees are both ad hoc and absurd. Political staff are pre-pubescent. The media is manipulated; nearly puppeterred. Consequences are on a grand proportion. And the film remains fantastically light-hearted through all of it.

In the Loop (2009) satirically narrates coordination and calculation of democracy on a national-, then cross-national- and, eventually, global-scale. The UK is expressly and accidentally considering war. The US is split and partisans on either side are seeking British alliance. All culminates at a meeting of the UN.
The protagonist, a capricious Minister in Westminster (i.e Westminster is a pet name for the British Parliament), can be likened to the manager in The Office, a fantastic and original mockumentary starring Ricky Gervais in the UK and Steve Carell in the US.

The ringmaster is a hot-headed and mouthy Director of Communications, played by Peter Capaldi. His fluency with the political process is matched with wit so priceless that it effectually excuses his violent arrogance and crass offences. Capaldi is the silver lining.

It is wonderful to see Anna Chlumsky all grown up (as a girl, Chlumsky was popularily cast as Vada in My Girl and My Girl 2). Chlumsky portrays a young and rising civil servant whose character is all-at-once intelligent naive vulnerable smart. Her performance is bang-on.

Venture across the Atlantic, from the UK to the US, Westminster to DC, Big Ben to Capitol Hill, Downing Street to the White House, and laugh at all that is ridiculous terrible tragic in our corner of the world.

**image courtesy of