Natural Selections

I am sitting in a studio apartment overlooking the Mira River, that broad stripe of blue that loops about the soul of every native-born Cape Bretoner, crooning like a homing beacon whenever they’re Away. The sun is going down, adding a subtle swath of lavender above the treeline. I don’t go out for vistas very…

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Transforming Progress

In A Short History of Progress, Ronald Wright estimates that human beings as we know ourselves have existed for about 100,000 generations, or 2.5 million years – a mind-bogglingly long time by subjective standards, but a mere blink of the eye of the Earth (4.5 billion years old). Yet, says Wright, we didn’t understand progress,…

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Transforming Jericho

I’ve been reading Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress, which he delivered at the 2004 Massey Lectures. It’s a thoughtful, often chilling account of civilizations’ tendencies to fall into catastrophic “progress traps” – paths and patterns that seem beneficial for everyone, but which collapse in on their own weight, decimating or even eradicating cultures…

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Transforming Deluges

When it rains, it pours. Cape Breton gave us a week or so of decent weather — that is, some clouds, some rain, or some wind, but not all at once — but apres ca, le deluge. For a week now, it’s been unrelenting, and the damp has dampened the excitement of our homecoming. Weather…

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