Thursday, 18 September 2003

Substantive blogging

My copy of Virginia Postrel’s new book, The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness, had shown up in a box on my chair by the time I got to work this morning. I’ve only gotten through the Preface, but it’s been a good read so far. (I would have sat down at one of those nice new tables they have on the rear porch of Weir Hall and read some more, but a half-dozen other people had the same idea I had. They weren’t reading Virginia’s book, though.)

I also watched a bit of the CBC news on Newsworld International this morning—a rerun of last night’s National, with Peter Mansbridge looking appropriately dour, as always. Apparently the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives, Canada’s two main parties of the right, are making another run at a merged organization, tentatively to be named the Conservative Party. I’m not sure that it will fly. The PCs seem to me like warmed over British “one nation” Tories, while the Alliance seem more like the Texas GOP minus the libertarian instincts. More importantly, the Liberals are positioned to capture the median voter in Ontario and Quebec, which is where the votes are anyway under Canada’s system of not-quite-proportional allocation of seats in Parliament. So even if they pull off the grand alliance, I’m not sure it solves much in the long run. (Then again, I’ve been half-expecting Canada to collapse due to its own internal contradictions for the past decade. Of course, states with even less reason to exist, like Belgium, have persisted as well. Blame the Treaty of Westphalia.)

I also learned that a tenth dwarf was added to the presidential race on the Democratic side down here, some guy from Arkansas who apparently is a lot like Howard Dean but spends more time hanging out with war criminals (the latter part I learned from Matthew; Peter didn’t mention that part).

But that story got less play than news that (a) everyone in the media and Parliament is now treating Paul Martin like he’s the prime minister, instead of Jean Chrétien, and (b) Canada’s opening seven more consulates in the United States next year. Amazingly they’ve just gotten around to adding Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States. Apparently they’re also opening up in a place called “Raleigh-Durham,” which I was under the impression were actually two distinct cities. Then again, so once were Buda and Pest. Or, for that matter, Toronto and Etobicoke.