Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday miscellany

1. Sheila Fitzpatrick remembers being a foreign bourgeois historian doing archival research in the Soviet Union:
I became addicted to the thrill of the chase, the excitement of the game of matching your wits and will against that of Soviet officialdom. How boring it must be, I thought, to work on British history, where you just went to the PRO, and polite, helpful people gave you catalogues and then brought you the documents you wanted. What would be the fun of it?
I once did a little research in the Archives Nationales in Paris, and it had a little of that frisson: blue-coated archival staff -- smoking constantly around heaps of ancient paper -- sullenly conspiring not to get whatever you wanted. "The revenge of the proletariat," it was called by French researchers who took it for granted.

2. Great show the other day by Rudyard Griffiths, late of the Dominion Institute, now debate impresario, who organized the Blair-Hitchens debate on religion in Toronto. YouTube has the opening stages here, including Hitchens's now famous crack about God as sort of a divine North Korea. The world was watching, Rudyard.

3.Kudos to Globe reporter Eric Reguly, who confesses how crazy he was in an opinion piece slamming Canadian banks for not being reckless enough -- shortly before the meltdown. Traditionally it used to be sports reporters who were presumed to be uncritical cheerleaders. Today most of them are pretty tough critics both of the games and the business enterprises of sport. Today it's business journalists who seem to form a claque, endlessly celebrating business's latest fashions against all critics and alternatives.
Follow @CmedMoore