All posts filed under: Review


Black Panther box office hit?

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, opening tonight in theatres across Canada and the United States, is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit. It set records for advance ticket sales on Fandango, its soundtrack album debuted in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts and industry estimates point to opening-weekend revenues as high as US$170 million. Director Ryan Coogler and star Chadwick Boseman appeared on the cover of the industry trade magazine Variety, while British GQ styled actor Michael B. Jordan to recall Black Panther Party activists. The red-carpet premiere made a splash on celebrity and fashion blogs, and it’s the most-tweeted-about film of the year. Marvel’s had big hits before. But this feels like something different. Ahead of its time The Black Panther, also known as King T’Challa of Wakanda, was created as a comic book hereo in 1966 by artist Jack Kirby and writer/editor Stan Lee. Although considered the first Black superhero in American comics, this is not the first time we’ve seen a Black superhero in the cinema. Comedian Robert Townsend gave …

Canadian health-care system under performing?

Canada’s health-care system is a point of Canadian pride. We hold it up as a defining national characteristic and an example of what makes us different from Americans. The system has been supported in its current form, more or less, by parties of all political stripes — for nearly 50 years. Our team at the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies Health Policy Council is a team of seasoned and accomplished health-care leaders in health economics, clinical practice, education, research and health policy. We study, teach and comment on health policy and the health-care system from multiple perspectives. While highly regarded, Canada’s health-care system is expensive and faces several challenges. These challenges will only be exacerbated by the changing health landscape in an aging society. Strong leadership is needed to propel the system forward into a sustainable health future. A national health insurance model The roots of Canada’s system lie in Saskatchewan, when then-premier Tommy Douglas’s left-leaning Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government first established a provincial health insurance program. This covered universal hospital (in 1947) …

Failure of football clubs to pay staff a living wage

Failure of football clubs to pay staff a living wage

English football’s top flight, the Premier League, dominates the sporting world’s league tables for revenue. Star players, managers and executives command lucrative wages. Thanks to the biggest TV deal in world football, the 20 Premier League clubs share £10.4 billion between them. But this wealth bonanza is not being distributed fairly within clubs. Wages are dramatically lower for staff at the opposite end of the Premier League labour market to players and executives. Many encounter in-work poverty. Indeed, Everton and Chelsea are the only two Premiership clubs fully accredited with the Living Wage Foundation to pay all lower-paid directly employed staff, as well as external contractors and agency staff, a real living wage. This is a (voluntary) wage that is higher than the legally required national living wage. It is calculated based on what employees and their families need to live, reflecting real rises in living costs. In London it’s £9.75 an hour, elsewhere it’s £8.45. Of 92 clubs in England and Scotland’s football leagues, only three others – Luton Town, Derby County and Hearts …

GORBACHEV His Life and Times By William Taubman

GORBACHEV His Life and Times By William Taubman Illustrated. 852 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $39.95. When my wife and I arrived in Moscow as journalists early in the reign of Vladimir V. Putin, the first person we interviewed was the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail S. Gorbachev. He told us he had recently visited Putin at the Kremlin and asked the question many around the world were asking: Did Putin plan to return Russia to authoritarianism? “His answer,” Gorbachev told us, “was a very definite no.” With the benefit of hindsight, Putin’s answer of course looks disingenuous. To Putin, Gorbachev was an intermediary to the West, sending a reassuring if deceptive message. Westerners like us flocked to see Gorbachev as an oracle of democracy. But what Putin knew was that Gorbachev was no hero to his own people. Russians despised Gorbachev as the destroyer of their empire and supported Putin as its restorer. Gorbachev lived then, as now, in a dual reality — admired and feted in Washington, London and Berlin, …

Decline of academic books in print

The print-format scholarly book, a bulwark of academia’s publish-or-perish culture, is an endangered species. The market that has sustained it over the years is collapsing. Sales of scholarly books in print format have hit record lows. Per-copy prices are at record highs. In purely economic terms, the current situation is unsustainable. So, what does the future look like? Will academia’s traditional devotion to print and legendary resistance to change kill off long-form scholarship? Or will academia allow itself to move from print-format scholarly books to an open-access digital model that could save, and very likely rejuvenate, long-form scholarship? Sales down. Prices up First, let’s look at some of the sales trends. Take the book-centric academic field of history as an example. In 1980, a scholarly publisher could expect to sell 2,000 copies of any given history book. By 1990, that number had plummeted to 500 copies. And by 2005, sales of a little over 200 copies worldwide had become the norm. From my own field – library and information studies – the numbers are no …

Fahrenheit 451 an evergreen dystopian science fiction

There’s a reason dystopian science fiction is evergreen—no matter how much time goes by, people will always regard the future with suspicion. The common wisdom is that the past was pretty good, the present is barely tolerable, but the future will be all Terminator-style robots and Idiocracy slides into chaos.

Every few years political cycles cause an uptick in attention being paid to classic dystopias; the 2016 Presidential election pushed George Orwell’s classic 1984 back onto the bestseller lists, and made Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale a depressingly appropriate viewing event.

Skepticsociety Magazine Blog

Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, by Laura Kipnis

Everyone lies about sex, though maybe every generation lies about sex differently,” says Laura Kipnis, adding that each era is almost right to believe “its own sexual narrative”, since it does largely determine the way sex is experienced. The argument of Unwanted Advances depends on a portrait of this woman—known, pseudonymously, as Nola Hartley in the book and Jane Doe in the suit—as dishonest and unreliable. The suit contends that the book itself is fundamentally untrustworthy. Side by side, the book and the lawsuit present an intellectual and moral puzzle touching on issues of sex, free speech, privacy, journalistic ethics, and academic freedom.

skeptic society The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - Arundhati Roy

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy. In her first novel since the legendary “God of Small Things,” Roy writes of a group of outcasts who come together during a protest in India. Roy, who has witnessed a great deal of turmoil, is uniquely placed to emphasize the solidarities between movements. She wants to show us a genuine counterculture of protest. Nevertheless, I longed for fewer connections, fewer babies and more in-depth depictions of the psychologies of the movements.

skeptic society Branding Moderates as ‘Anti-Muslim’

Branding Moderates as ‘Anti-Muslim’

Branding Moderates as ‘Anti-Muslim’. By The Wall Street Journal Staff As if facing down violent Islamist fanatics isn’t enough, Muslim reformers now have to dodge attacks from the American left. Consider the Southern Poverty Law Cente. Atheism is rare in Muslim populations. Moreover, even more than among Christians, atheists are distrusted and associated with immorality. Public expressions of non­belief often risk prosecution, and nonbelievers who escape blasphemy laws face severe social disapproval, risking livelihoods and family ties.