Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

jscully's blog

Open Book Obama

Ever had your fortune told? The only attempt I made to find out what delights beckoned in my future was to play with a home-made ouija board with a couple of fellow-pimply, pubescent teenagers. We were astounded when the glass bumped its way, driven by a truly mysterious force, to words like "girls" and "bras" and "fu–". It always stopped short of spelling out what really lay, as it were, in our drooling future. Damn! It’s not going to the "ck." Must have been our Catholic schooling and one of the hands of God on the glass that forever pushed it to the final letter-"n". No "cks" for these young Turks- or something that rhymes with it.

The Lies You Are Told

Want to know if the media is in a healthy, rigorous state? Can you trust the news you are consuming? The surest way to find out if journalism's pulse is beating strongly is by going to, of all places, the health pages or websites. And a warning: if you believe what you see on TV, especially in those dreadful "Your Health" segments, then I've got millions of bucks in a Nigerian bank that's all yours.

The TV segments are designed simply to grab your attention and hold it for a maximum of two minutes. In than time, flashing by are headlines, impossibly short clips from researchers, doctors and patients and a sign-off from a T'nT (go figure) blond with about as much expertise in medicine as I do in astrophysics. In depth, it ain't. But is it true? Not often.

Open Book China

The last time I was in China they took us to see a duck farm. To this day I don't now why, except that was only thing they would let us a film. Ducks. Cops and goons followed us everywhere and when we weren't under their tender care, we were confined to our hotel.

Now this same country is staging the Olympic Games. They've come a long way… or have they? I guess a flat "no", would be my answer. These games should be boycotted. Just like the IOC should have stopped the games in Munich when 11 Israeli athletes were massacred.

Open Book Clement: The Cottager's Revenge

The Internet has won! Newspapers are dead!! (AP. July 24, 2008-U.S.Regional and national newspaper publishers, already staggering with a drop in ad revenue more severe than the industry has seen since the Great Depression, say the second half of 2008 may be even worse. )Well, it's not over quite yet. Sure, the Net has forced fading newspapers to make many changes, few of them good – major lay-offs, less foreign coverage, less analysis, more fears, more tears, more fluff. But there is one space desperately pressured editors dare not touch. And it's a surprising one in the era of chat rooms, text messaging and Facebook -- Letters to the Editor. From the portentous national dailies to the rambling, often silly local rags, Letters to the Editor continue to dominate even the most threatened opinion pages.

Ugly Bobby: A Message from the Front

It's a powerful piece of writing from the splendid South African newspaper, the Mail and Guardian. In a savage attack on Robert Mugabe, of Zimbabwe, it makes these disturbing, yet brutally true observations:

Who Was He? Um… Ah… Um…

He was just another victim of just another war. This time, the Israelis versus the Palestinians. I saw him dead in a ditch in the hills high above Beirut. The scorching sun offered no dignity to the yellowing corpse whose tattered militia uniform became his death shroud. Alone and anonymous. A corpse with no name.

Phones and Fists: A Bloody Nightmare

"John! I want you to go to emergency right now! You've got total kidney failure!"

The phone had irritably blasted out its summons. A telemarketer? Screw it. But one of the few manageable gimmicks of on the modern phone, call display, persuaded me to answer. It was only nine on the morning but my family doctor – waiting room time forty-five minutes—was quite a-quiver. He'd just seen my latest blood test results. They indicated high potassium levels and other signs of the further disintegration of an aging buffoon.

"Any emerg.?"

"It doesn't matter. Just go! Now! Tell them your creatinine and potassium levels are way off. Tell them to give you intravenous fluids. Hurry, John, hurry!"

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