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The Chaos Theory of International Trade, or How Canada Arrested a Chinese Executive on a US Warrant in Order to Protect Israel from Iran

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I heard it from every economics professor I ever had, at both Oregon and Stanford, and everything I saw and read thereafter backed it up. International trade always, always benefits both trading nations. Another thing I often heard from those same professors was the old maxim: “When goods don’t pass international borders, soldiers will.” Though I’ve been known to call business war without bullets, it’s actually a wonderful bulwark against war. Trade is the path of coexistence, cooperation. Peace feeds on prosperity.  Phil Knight. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (p. 374). Scribner. Kindle Edition.  A Few Facts Huawei holds 4% of the cellphone market in Israel. In the UK, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, Huawei has 14% of the market.  Huawei Canada is a major contributor to Canadian business and research.  These facts matter.  Why Conspiracy Theories Exist Reading about the arrest of Huawei’s CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, who is also the da

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty." What's Not to Understand?

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Writers and Company Listening to Anne Carson and Eleanor Wachtel on Writers & Company discussing Keats's famous aphorism, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," I was taken aback to hear both women reveal how little they appreciated what it might mean. Wachtel: And you quote a passage from Keats before each tango or section, and it was Keats of course who wrote famously, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” How does beauty speak of truth? Carson: I don’t think it does. I think that’s all a big mistake, but there’s so much power in believing it, and so many of the decisions of life, especially early life—with the adolescent emotions—identify those two, and think that the person who’s beautiful is also true and the feelings that come from beauty lead you to truth. I don’t believe it works out usually. What's not to understand? Wachtel and Carson are, of course, two of the most well-read, articulate people on the planet.  Nonetheless, this was an expression I typicall

Why Are the Poor Always with Us? "Moral Hazard."

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The Poor Are Always with Us “The poor are always with us.”  What a discouraging declaration!  More disturbing still, it is attributed to Jesus Christ.  Although the details vary from one gospel to another, Mary of Bethany (some say Mary Magdalene) was pouring expensive oil on Jesus’s feet (in some versions on his head) when his disciples complained  (some say Judas specifically) that the money could have been used to feed the poor.  (The Gospel of Matthew suggests that this incident is what caused Judas to betray Jesus.) Moral Hazard Why are the poor always with us?  Consider  “ moral hazard .”  “Moral hazard,” according to Alan Blinder in After the Music Stopped:  The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead , “has nothing to do with morality.”  The concept originated in the 18th century in the insurance industry and suggests that having insurance might encourage risky (and therefore immoral?) behaviour.   Today the concept is very much with us as ins

The Truth about English Verb Tenses: There Is Only One!

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Tense versus aspect Some languages do not have verb tenses.  The English language has only one tense:  the simple past tense, also known as the preterite tense, which signals that an action was completed at a specific time in the past.  ESL teachers, like me once upon a time, confuse students by saying that English verb tenses refer to the past, the present or the future, but they don't really.  Once you start teaching verbs in detail you realize that we use modal auxiliaries like "will" and "going to" to refer to the future.  What we traditionally call "the present tense" refers to the present, past and future, as in the examples "I live in Canada" or "The population of Sao Paulo is 10 million."  The more difficult and significant distinction among English verbs are aspects like habitual (I study), continuous (I am studying), perfect (I have studied) and perfect continuous (I have been studying), which usually get taught as bei

Understanding Romanticism

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Romance: that form of literature where desires can be fulfilled unencumbered To understand Romanticism it is useful to begin with the traditional cliché image of a man and a woman gazing deeply into one another’s eyes over a candle-light dinner. More pedantically, the literary theorist Northrop Frye defined romance as that mode of literature in which the laws of nature and reality are somewhat suspended and a hero can therefore perform miraculous feats. Underlying both of these notions ( Frye’s mode and what the rest of us describe as “romantic”) is Frye’s idea that all culture is about giving form to human desire. Our expectations of the chivalrous knight of Arthurian Legend and the courtly-love tradition have more in common with modern notions of romantic love than is at first apparent. Though rarely acknowledged, the knight who slays a dragon and the perfect lovers are both examples of reality and nature overwhelmed by our imaginings of human desires being fulfill