Topic: michael's essays

Confessions of a smartphone addict - Michael's essay

"I had pooh-poohed those pitiable creatures welded to their phones, but now I was experiencing an empty sense of loss which I never expected. Was it conceivable that I had become as addicted to my phone as they were to theirs?"

September need not be the end of summer - Michael's essay

As cool winds set in, we are constantly reminded of the inevitability of winter. Even though September signifies darkness, it is also a reminder that summer's warmth will re-emerge again.

Canada's love affair with the Toronto Raptors — Michael's essay

"Raptors are birds of prey endowed with exceptional eyesight and superior depth perception, with talons that can tear an enemy to pieces. Not that the Raptors wanted to disembowel the Golden State Warriors. It is after all a Canadian team, which means that niceness ranks with Tim Hortons in core values."

In praise of trains — Michael's essay

Trains manifest strength and gentleness at the same time. The engine must be powerful enough to pull all that tonnage through city and country. At the same time, the gentle, almost metronomic rhythms of the rocking motion, can bring serenity to our monkey brains.

Barack Obama was a greater enemy of the free press than Trump — Michael's essay

Trump may have made rumblings and grumblings, threatening all kinds of confrontation. But he has never done anything but talk. Obama tapped reporters’ phones and dragged them into court.

The lost art of writing letters — Michael's essay

Letter-writing by hand takes work. In our screen-crazy world, the idea of a refreshing break from the vertiginous onslaught of digital dreck is very appealing.

Notre-Dame de Paris is France's 'symphony in stone' — Michael's essay

Much of the history of France has played out within its great walls and the plaza in front. Its two stone towers, miraculously saved, are as recognizable as the Eiffel Tower or the paintings of Picasso.

Why are so many Canadians obsessed by what people put on their heads?: Michael's essay

Through Bill 21, Quebec is trying to stop some public employees from wearing religious symbols at work — a move the government insists is to ensure healthy secularism. But host Michael Enright argues it's nothing to applaud.

When TV took over question period: Michael's essay

On October 17, 1977, question period was broadcast on television for the first time, turning it from a daily chance to call the government to account, to a puffed-up piece of political theatre.

Snow defines us as a country: Michael's essay

"There is a kind of social grace released by heavy snowfall. Strangers push the cars of other strangers out of banks. The young volunteer to shovel the walkways of the old. Falling snow ignores boundaries. It is there for all, serenely democratic if you will."

Drivers are killing more pedestrians in Canada every year. Here's why: Michael's essay

“Speed is the killer. The only way to stop the carnage is to lower speed limits on every street in our major cities. But this is something politicians don’t want to do.”

In praise of British novelist Muriel Spark: Michael's essay

“She was the kind of writer other writers would like to be. Her sentences were short, the grammar was perfect and she never slipped from affection for her characters to mushy sentimentality.”

Why did Ultima Thule fail to excite us the way space travel used to?: Michael's essay

“Perhaps we have become jaded, taking for granted those things which, in earlier days, would have galvanized our imaginations. Why look to the heavens when we can stare down at our smartphones and play Solitaire?”

Liberals around the world are struggling to define themselves: Michael's essay

"Because our governors seemed confused about everything from Brexit to wall-building to pipelines that went nowhere, the confusion was passed on to the citizenry like utility bills. If 2018 looked like an explosion in a banana factory, 2019 is on course for an equally dreary sequel," writes Michael Enright.

Michael's essay — Why radio remains a vital force in the 21st century

“Radio kills distance. It shrinks time into manageable components. At its core is connection. It puts us in touch with one another. It is personal, it is immediate, it is intimate. It is there to comfort when we hurt or tease and distract when we relax. It is there when we need to know. It is family.”

The agony and the ecstasy of the annual school Christmas concert - Michael's essay

"We grown-ups in the great big grown-up country calibrate success by what we can count: SUVs, houses, Mexican vacations. In the country of childhood, they measure success by getting through Jolly Old St. Nicholas on the recorder."

The return of Smell-O-Vision - Michael's essay

“If current audiences lose their appetite for superhero sequels and remakes of old movies, the return of Smell-O-Vision might bring back the casual moviegoer. It makes … scents … to me.”

Michael Enright embarks on a program of personal transformation

When you can't change the world, change yourself. The Sunday Edition's host Michael Enright does exactly that by swapping out his hangers and growing a beard.

Michael's essay: Sean Hannity is only doing his job — to be a salesman for Trump

“I wish people would stop picking on poor Sean Hannity. After all the man is only doing his job.”

Michael's essay: Censoring Steve Bannon is not good for democracy

“Steve Bannon has to be confronted and the only way to do that is to hear the man and parse his language, his attitudes, his grotty enthusiasms. As documentary maker Michael Moore put it: “We want to hear him speak … You always want the devil to tell you his plans.”

Michael's essay: The media have gone gaga over the legalization of pot

“We media hacks love countdowns, whether it’s the early minutes of a NASA launch or the dying seconds of a hockey game. But I have to say that in the countdown to legalization, my confreres were in the grip of some kind of journalistic reefer madness.”

Michael's essay: Why would anyone ever risk taking any of the drugs advertised on TV?

"As I listened to the litany of awful things that could happen, I thought, I'll take my chances with the disease, thank you very much," said Michael Enright.

Michael's essay: The Republican Party 'seems to actively hate women'

"On Thursday, I watched as a middle-aged woman with a shaky voice, in quiet dignity and modest demeanour, sat before eleven Republican men, many of whom would destroy her."

Michael's essay: Technology is changing faster than our ability to control it

Even the man who invented the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, is sounding the alarm.

Michael's essay: Canadians love nothing more than a good old-fashioned constitutional crisis

“Members of the National Association of Explainers, mostly academics, adore constitutional crises, because it gives them a chance to parlay their stuffy credentials into 15 minutes — or even a minute thirty — of national exposure.”

Michael's essay: What would Mr. Rogers say?

In the wake of this week’s border horror show, take a moment to enjoy a new film biography of the beloved children’s entertainer. “His consistent message to children was that each of them is special, each is unique and each should be celebrated for who they were.”

Michael's essay: The rapid pace of news is leaving us exhausted and depressed

“The mind has trouble absorbing so much news thrown at us at such incredible speed. Breaking news should be renamed break-neck news.”

Michael's essay: Public vulgarity is nothing new, and vulgar words aren't all equal

“What Samantha Bee said about Ivanka Trump was crude, hurtful and unwarranted. It was name-calling in the traditional sense. Calling a black American an ape, runs much deeper.”

Michael's essay: What the world lost when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated

“It is hard in these callous and polarizing times to convey Bobby Kennedy's national popularity. He was literally mobbed everywhere he appeared; his cufflinks were torn off, his shoes taken for souvenirs.”

Michael's essay: Why we're going to have to get used to living with threat of global nuclear war again

“Now that Oval Office Man has cancelled his summit meeting with Kim Jong Un, the nuclear roulette wheel will begin again -- going round and round.”

Michael's essay: Assumptions made about black people can be harmful, even deadly

"We make assumptions about black Americans and Canadians that would never occur to us if they were white."

Michael's essay: Ford turns its back on the family sedan

The Ford motor company has announced it won’t make sedans anymore - just SUVs and trucks. “Setting aside the economic realities of the industry, the coming disappearance of the family sedan connotes a sea change in our love affair with the car.”

Michael's essay: The horror of mass murder by vehicle comes to Toronto

“We have to find motive. We can’t fully accept the randomness of the thing. We search for explanation. We crave coherence.”

Michael's essay: Re-thinking our relationship with animals

“It may have started years ago when I interviewed Peter Singer, the philosopher and professor at Princeton University. His argument was simple and stark: human animals and animal animals are equal because they can each suffer pain and experience enjoyment.”

Michael's essay: In praise of librarians

“Librarians are the trail guides who move youngsters through the thickets and forests of books in the uncharted world of the imagination.”

Michael's essay: It's willful blindness to think Canadians aren't racist

"When we look south, we all too often take on a self-righteous attitude that what is happening to black people in the U.S. could not happen here."

Michael's essay: Unplugging from modern-day madness

Michael shares his thoughts about the search for escape hatches from what often feels like a dystopian world.

Michael's essay: When the police give false testimony in court

“Some cops have a name for it: ‘testilying.’ It's also called Blue Lies."

Michael Enright on being labelled a 'grey-bearded lefty,' after his life-long struggle to grow a beard

“I was stricken to the quick, not by the word 'lefty.' No, it's the grey-bearded reference which my lawyers say is actionable in a court of law. My legal team, from Lowe, Ball and Lynch, says that on paper anyway, Mr. Corcoran is guilty of ageism in the first degree.”

Michael's essay: In search of the lost password

“Every time I have to change my password for various devices, I feel like Columbus setting out on a dark and perilous journey. Usually I take great care to write down the password — in a notebook. I then forget where I put the notebook.”

Michael's essay: The NRA used to lobby for gun control

“Given the mental derangement of the leadership which runs the current NRA, it's hard to believe that for much of the 20th Century, the organization was in the forefront of preaching gun control.”

Michael's essay: What's the deal with curling?

“At first glance, it seems to be less a sport than a friendly, anxiety-free pastime, like lawn bowling. An outing for people in colourful sweaters. Something requiring little physical effort.”

Michael's essay: Perhaps we'll be saved by the sheer incompetence of President Trump's staff

"Republicans have a cherished tradition of defending the rights of the stupid and the mediocre to representation in the halls of government."

Michael's essay: We don't value 'menial' work, and we should

"What would have a greater impact on our diurnal lives? A strike by garbage workers and school crossing guards, or a strike by chartered accountants or lawyers?”

Michael's essay: The great Canadian bread price-fixing scandal

“Yes, others may have national scandals about smutty dossiers or Russian treachery or nuclear buttons; for us Canadians, it’s bread.”

Michael's essay: Anti-Semitism is not just going away; it is growing

“In the bulging catalogue of bigotry and hate, anti-Semitism is unique. Like seasonal flu and cockroaches, it never goes away. It has survived for more than 2000 years.”
Sunday Edition

Michael's essay: Great films about journalism inspire, even as newspapers disappear

"All the tough-talking female reporters, all the hard-drinkers in snap-brimmed fedoras, all the crusty editors yelling 'Boy!' will become as ephemeral as faded ink on a forgotten front page."
Sunday Edition

Michael's essay — When a wedding invitation becomes a diplomatic nightmare

"Prince Harry may wish to invite his friends Barack and Michelle to his wedding to American actress Meghan Markle — but that may infuriate the current resident of the Oval Office."

Michael's essay — The Magic of the Christmas Store Window

“Every Christmas window at Simpsons had a puffing train that wound its way around the window and disappeared into a tunnel and moments later came out the other side. It stopped at the little wooden station and you could see the conductor holding a big pocket watch.”

Michael's essay — Do we really need to spend $4-billion to build a new bridge to Michigan?

“The Trudeau government is fully behind the Gordie Howe International Bridge. But a troubling question, which might cross-check the Gordie Howe, has come up.”

Michael's Essay — Contaminated water on First Nations reserves is a national shame

"Various governments going back decades have postponed dealing with water and sewage problems on Canadian reserves. Or just plain ignored them. While governments have insisted that clean water was a priority, the spending didn't match the rhetoric."

Michael's Essay — Lament for a nation

“More than 50 per cent of Americans tell pollsters that their country is going in the wrong direction. And no wonder. They are living under the most unpopular president in living memory. He has broken every presidential norm and tradition and when not being vilified, is being laughed at.”

Michael's essay — Helicopter parents and caregivers are going too far to protect kids

“An elementary school principal in Ontario has banned cartwheels in his playground. They are, he argues, much too dangerous for our children.”

Michael's essay — What is it about the rich that makes us crazy?

“It has been a frosty few days for the wealthiest among us. 11 Saudi princes are being held in durance vile in the Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel in Riyadh. Millions of documents telling wicked stories about tax havens were made public.”

Michael's essay — A recipe for Canada's future

To save our common future as a country, we need to empower women, value young people, and welcome millions more immigrants. Here's an excerpt: “The country is virtually empty. The state of California has a greater population. Simply put, we need more people.”
The Sunday Edition

Michael's essay — Grown-ups are ruining Halloween for children

“One principal said banning costumes in his school was a good idea because some of the younger kids might get frightened.”

Michael's essay — Carnage on the streets of Toronto

“A growing number of cyclists are beginning to take on the mindless aggression of motorists. The worst seem to be middle-aged men, many wearing racing colours on expensive bikes, and Uber food delivery maniacs.”

Michael's essay — When Justin met Donald

Justin Trudeau’s Washington charm offensive may not stop Donald Trump from killing the NAFTA trade agreement.
The Sunday Edition

Michael's essay — America's self-destructive love affair with guns

"The gun fetish grew out of and is fed by a host of myths; the settling of the Wild West, the lone cowboy with his Colt Peacemaker, taming the frontier."
The Sunday Edition

Michael's essay - Hillary Clinton lost because she's a woman

“She was tough, articulate, sympathetic, compassionate, fearfully focused. In the early going I almost, but not quite, felt sorry for Trump who was so outgunned on every front.”
The Sunday Edition

Michael's essay — Why don't people have nicknames anymore?

"I’ve always loved Mafia nicknames. My favourite was the wise guy nicknamed Eight O'Clock, as in 'If anybody asks for me, I was here 'til eight o’clock'..."

Put him on trial or send him home: Michael Enright on the appalling treatment of Hassan Diab

Canada extradited Ottawa sociology professor Hassan Diab to France, where he has been held in jail without trial for three years. There is no evidence against him, and French magistrates have repeatedly called for his release. Yet the Canadian government has refused to exert pressure on France to either put Professor Diab on trial, or set him free.

The summer of our discontent: Michael's essay

"Trying to tweeze out tiny shards of hope, of something approaching optimism after this our first summer in the evolving dis-Trumpian universe is like trying to enjoy a Bach cantata in a shopping mall. Futile and frustrating..."
The Sunday Edition

To Canada's graduating classes of 2017 - Michael's essay

"You might look into the national ledger and check the debits and assets...It will fall to you to expand the asset side of the ledger. It is a never-ending job."

Why do we hate? - Michael's essay

"What is it in us that causes us to hate a fellow human being or group of human beings? It is a disease from which no one is immune."

Canadians just don't care about privacy - Michael's essay

Privacy in private life is a hot topic world-wide, but here in Canada, not so much. Here's an excerpt: "If we really cherished our personal privacy, would we talk loudly on our phones in public, ignoring the presence of strangers? Would we blog or tweet or text some of our most personal information?"
The Sunday Edition

Why JFK was a symbol of change for a generation - Michael's essay

On the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth, Michael remembers the man who, despite his many faults, endures in our collective imagination.

Parents of Manchester children unite in grief with Muslim parents - Michael's essay

Terrorists no longer just kill adults. Here's an excerpt: "Now, the children are "soft targets". I can't think of a more accurate or appropriate term."

Why the RCMP should come under civilian control - Michael's essay

"When you wed the idea of a blue culture to the quasi military command system within the police forces — a system by the way, run almost entirely by alpha males — the result is a closed society, impenetrable to efforts to reform."
The Sunday Edition

Why the girl on the crane and the boy who dug a big hole matter — Michael's essay

Young risk-takers who do dangerous things for the sheer thrill, are often labelled as stupid or thoughtless. We say they're wasting taxpayers' money, or risking the lives of their rescuers. But maybe that's OK. Here's an excerpt: "They are anti-us. They eschew security in favour of risk. They tempt and test and break conventions that the rest of us strive to uphold."

My digital sabbath — Michael's essay

Michael Enright was becoming increasingly concerned that his addiction to screens was shrinking his attention span. So he disconnected for 24 hours. It was harder than he thought it would be. Here's an excerpt: "I walked. I went for a bicycle ride, read every newspaper in the house. Twice. I was beginning to fear I wouldn't make it to sundown."

Robert Pirsig challenged us to pay attention to the small details in our lives — Michael's essay

Pirsig, who died this week at the age of 88, will be remembered for his classic book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Here's an excerpt: "Pirsig .. (made) us aware of our spiritual natures, coupled with the idea that we must remake the world by remaking our attitudes."

The coming epic battle between the Trumpians and the Gumpians - Michael's essay

The next four years will pit glass-half-full people against glass-half-empty people.

Once a luxury, now a nightmare -- why airline passenger comfort always comes last

Here's an excerpt: "Flying is now an ordeal, a nightmare whose constituent elements are premeditated and orchestrated to frustrate, infuriate, embarrass and humiliate. Delays are common. Lineups are strangulating. You are served snacks you wouldn't feed your cat."

Let's step up, reach out and throw clichés under the bus - Michael's essay

The media are bringing out their new spring line of clichés.

How Jimmy Breslin changed journalism - Michael's essay

Breslin was the best practitioner of what was called, "The New Journalism," using the techniques of fiction to tell the stories of the poor, the working class and the underclass.

For inflight medical emergencies, no female doctors need apply - Michael's essay

"It turns out that on many long haul-flights by reputable carriers, female doctors are routinely treated with disdain bordering on hostility by cabin personnel. Their stories are frightening."

It's time for a digital detox - Michael's essay

A day without screens - Michael's essay: It's tough to fight an addiction. Perhaps a digital detox is the solution.

No excuses for boil water orders on First Nations reserves - Michael's essay

"In the 2015 federal election campaign, the Liberals promised to clean up water systems in First Nations communities by 2021.That's almost as long as it took to land a man on the moon or to build the 189 miles of the St. Lawrence Seaway."

We won an award for dishonesty, and we're very proud of it! - Michael's essay

The "Adding Insult to Injury Award" recognises deception, distortion and dishonesty in media. It comes from Vaccine Choice Canada, which says vaccinations cause autism in children. The award honours our interview about the so-called backfire effect — the inability of people to change their opinions even after being presented with the facts — in which the anti-vaccine movement was used to illustrate the intransigence of people holding views contradicted by evidence.

Flynngate is Watergate all over again - Michael's essay

It's not the crime, it's the coverup. Here's an excerpt: "Less than a month into the Trump Administration Year One and the "very very excellent" Trump team of Cabinet secretaries and Oval Office walk-ins seem more like Titanic survivors looking to the horizon for the Californian. It was during the Trudeau visit to the Oval when it suddenly occurred to me; this is Nixon and Watergate circa 1973 all over again."

Why I love Ed Lawrence - Michael's essay

Although Michael says his thumbs are as black as the ace of spades, he is a huge fan of CBC Radio's gardening expert, Ed Lawrence. Here's an excerpt: "As he speaks to each caller, he is also talking to us, the listener, in a very subdued, intimate way. If someone phones in with a no-hope problem, an expiring hydrangea for example, he is as gentle as your kindly old GP."

Connecting the dots between the Quebec City murders and the Muslim travel ban — Michael's essay

"What happened last week in Quebec City and in the power offices of Washington, was man-made. Human beings were targeted by men, in one case literally in the gun sight of a weapon, in the other attacked for their faith with the flourish of a presidential pen."

The democratic promise of social media has been killed by "the bubble" - Michael's essay

"The bubble, especially the notorious Facebook bubble, protects us from views which differ politically or culturally from our own. Like the bubble boy from early Seinfeld, all political and social contaminants have to be filtered out for our own emotional safety."

Justin Trudeau's island vacation should be the least of our concerns - Michael's essay

"People are sleeping in winter doorways, our schools are falling apart, the expansion of food banks is a national disgrace, but we focus on how much a minister paid for a rental car."

Dear journalists: To cover Trump, remember I.F. Stone - Michael's essay

The famous dictum of the diminutive gadfly and giant of journalism was "All governments lie." Here's an excerpt from Michael's essay: "Isidor Feinstein Stone never went to a press conference. He never attended a White House briefing or held an off-the-record chat with a politician or a bureaucrat. Instead he pored over thousands of public documents, picking up contradictions, obfuscations, and untruths."

America's hypocritical outrage over Russia's cyber-interference in its presidential election - Michael's essay

Here's an excerpt: "The involvement by the United States in dictating and directing the political life of other countries has a long and sordid history going back to the middle of the 19th Century."
The Sunday Edition

Thank God 2016 is finally over. Let us work to find a better world in 2017 - Michael's essay

"It was a year of lying and shouting. A time when what was factual was distorted until reality and its first cousin, truth, were as rare as snow in August."
The Sunday Edition

The agony and the ecstasy of the annual school Christmas concert - Michael's essay

A funny, tender description of the school concert when Michael's son was a proud member of the Grade Three Recorder Ensemble. It's our tradition to re-broadcast this delightful piece each year at this time. (Note - Michael's son is now a handsome young man in his third year of university.)

The best of Michael Enright's 2016 bookshelf

From a biography of Robert F. Kennedy, to historical fiction by Julian Barnes about Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich, to Frederik Sjoberg's meditation on the life and death of a hoverfly. "The choices are capricious, arbitrary, subjective and perhaps not at all to your liking. But here goes anyway."

What we talk about when we talk about fascism - Michael's essay

"With the election of Donald Trump and the possibility of an extreme right wing government in France after next spring's election, plus what's going on in the rest of Europe, you hear the word fascism tossed around quite casually lately. At some point after the American election, I realized I had been using the term without really knowing what it meant."

Michael Enright: Take your foot off the gas and stop texting!

Michael Enright says aggressive, distracted drivers -- not pedestrians who cross between the lights -- are responsible for the dramatic increase in pedestrian fatalities.
The Sunday Edition

How could we — I — get so much so wrong? - Michael's essay

"There are three things to think about right away: One, it's not our country; Two, he's not our leader and Three, Armageddon is not about to break out."
The Sunday Edition

The appealing myth that the FBI is independent - Michael's essay

Director James Comey's decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails follows a long tradition of FBI interference in party politics.
The Sunday Edition

"The system not only failed Adam Capay. It buried him alive" - Michael's essay

"In the eyes of the law, he is an innocent man. And he has been locked up in solitary confinement for four years. The light in his cell is on 24-hours a day, a torture technique used to de-stabilize prisoners in Guantanamo Bay."
The Sunday Edition

The debate over giving your pet marijuana shows our "pet-as-friend" culture has gone too far - Michael's essay

"Pets are wonderful animals, especially for children, but they are not human no matter how much we would like them to be."
The Sunday Edition

Canada's cowardly CEOs are sitting on billions, rather than investing in the economy - Michael's essay

"It turns out Carney was being polite when he said the caution by Canadian CEOs might be excessive. It turns out that they are in fact scaredy cats. Chickens. Nervous Nellies. Cowards, even."
The Sunday Edition

The Element in the Room: Peaceful Vermont copes with the Donald Trump effect

Note: Twice a year, Michael Enright travels to rural Vermont, far away from the news of the day and the concerns of a weekly national radio program. The agenda is — walk, sleep, read; rest, recharge and reset. Last week, however, the drumbeat of the news was never far away.

So now email's out of date too?! - Michael's essay

"If email is now old-fashioned, the mailed letter is as ancient as a dinosaur's tooth — pre-prehistoric. If email is old-fashioned, I must be this year's Edsel — note to my children, look it up."
The Sunday Edition

Police must learn to use words, not guns, in interactions with the mentally ill - Michael's essay

"The inevitable question raised by the families of the dead man or woman is simply: "How does a police officer responding to a call about someone in distress, end up killing that person?"