It’s Labour Day weekend, and as many of my colleagues ruefully note, this is the one time every year when labour and union issues are guaranteed to get some attention in the news. And it’s usually mentioned in this news coverage that unions’ activism doesn’t just benefit their own members, but also improves society at large. When I teach industrial relations, I always talk about how workplaces don’t have things like minimum wages and regulated working hours because employers woke up one morning and voluntarily decided to give these things to their employees. Those things are required by law – and while unions were among the activists fighting to get those laws passed, the unions wanted better working conditions not just for their own members, but for everyone.
I’ve been thinking about this kind of activism in a very roundabout way recently, because of (more…)
Earlier this week I spent an afternoon reading trashy celebrity gossip magazines (give me a break, it’s summer). I learned way, way more than I ever needed to know about the antics of the Teen Moms, the possibly jail-bound Real Housewife, the sexting politician, and the Kardashians – and all that useless information about people I don’t even know made me think of one of my recent favourite music videos: (more…)
Randall Sullivan’s Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson was released in November of last year. It’s an epic piece of work – 776 pages long, including nearly 175 pages of references – and it got some less-than-positive reviews, including the New York Times, which called it “dreary”, “bloated”, and “thoroughly dispensable”. I just finished reading it, and I think it deserves much more credit than that, because it’s a remarkable work on several levels. Sullivan has constructed an extremely complex narrative that is more than a biography – it’s also a very sobering look at how the music business operates. And it’s an excellent case study in how writers can manage challenging or difficult source material.
A lot of writing about success and achievement encourages you to find your “passion” (a word that is getting extremely overused) or to set a goal, and then to single-mindedly work as hard as you can to achieve as much as possible. I’m going to propose an alternate strategy for improvement: do something you’re terrible at. (more…)
Once again, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is promoting the idea of a “Compensation Equity Act” that would require British Columbia public sector workers to be paid no more than private sector workers doing the same job. An article in the Province newspaper quotes CTF’s BC director, Jordan Bateman, as claiming that “taxpayers are overpaying for labour throughout the system”, based on three examples: (more…)
Next to Kate Bush, my favourite musical act is Crowded House. I own pretty much every recording they’ve ever released, and I’ve seen them in concert nine times over 23 years. I’ve seen them play in a very wet outdoor amphitheatre, where I had to huddle from the rain under a black plastic garbage bag, and I’ve seen them play in a convention centre ballroom, where I was so weak from food poisoning that I had to lean against a wall for almost the entire show. (In case you’re wondering why I didn’t just go home, I had used frequent flyer points to travel to that show and wouldn’t have missed it for anything.)