Articles

New and previously published articles from magazines and newspapers around the world.

Jacqui Cohen: Army and Navy's Sole Survivor

Jacqui Cohen, Army & Navy’s Sole Survivor
There was a story the newspapers used to tell about Army & Navy. It showed up a number of times during the late ’70s and early ’80s. It involved pointing out what was then considered to be a central irony about the company. That is, the fact that the iconic Vancouver discount department store – opened on Hastings Street in 1919 by Samuel Cohen and still owned at that time by his fashionable, sports car driving, glamorously good-looking descendants – was in fact run and controlled by a teetotalling Baptist counting pennies in a dingy converted stockroom in Regina.
That old story is easy enough to parse today. The implication was that selling seconded clothing and fishing tackle might make you very rich but that the very rich themselves (certainly two generations later) didn’t have the right mental culture to sustain their wealth by the same method. To actually take care of business, to think strategically about the future, to be engaged with the here and now, they needed to bring in a man with a discount frame of mind. They needed that penny-counting Baptist in his poorly lit Regina stockroom.
Posted: Tuesday, Jul. 13, 2010 3:36pm

The Ugly Truth

Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine June 24, 2010

Facing down a world wracked with financial turmoil, Mark Carney brings many strengths to the table on behalf of Canadians: Harvard and Oxford training, years of experience in the private sector at Goldman Sachs. But Carney may also have another, less obvious competitive advantage: The current Governor of the Bank of Canada happens to photograph very well.

 

Posted: Tuesday, Jul. 13, 2010 7:53am

Meditation at 7,500 RPM

From the July 2010 Walrus Magazine
The racetrack i’m driving is a five-kilometre, eighteen-turn road course. Looked at another way, it’s just a strip of pavement that covers some arbitrary geography before ending up exactly where it started. That’s why, I think, friends tend to roll their eyes about my fixation with auto racing, yet wax philosophical about their own interest in baseball or golf or tennis. It’s just epically pointless, they feel, to go around and around and around like that, burning up tires and brakes and all that fossil fuel.
I don’t argue. Even enthusiasts occasionally reinforce this impression of motor sports as blindingly banal. “The lead car is absolutely unique,” the famed Formula One commentator Murray Walker once noted, “except for the one behind it, which is identical.”
Posted: Monday, Jun. 14, 2010 10:17am
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The Envy Economy

 

 

From the Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine

When Oliver Stone's upcoming sequel to Wall Street (Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps) is released this fall, there will be renewed debate on whether "greed is good." People may disagree with Gordon Gekko, just as his protégé Bud Fox ultimately did in the original film, but most will accept that greed is, if not good, then at least centrally relevant to the argument. Since the 1980s, you could say that greed has become the economic and cultural meta-factor: either the juice that drives markets and innovation, or the corrosive force bent on bringing the global economy to its knees (again).

But what if the Gekkos and the Foxes were arguing about the wrong variable entirely? What if greed were secondary, a shadow cast by a different meta-factor altogether? That's what Eric Falkenstein, a U.S. economist with a growing following, argues in his book Finding Alpha, published by Wiley last year. Falkenstein does not believe the market is driven by greed. He thinks the market is driven by envy.

Posted: Friday, May. 28, 2010 8:07am

The Original Tourist Destination

Would You Walk 500 Miles?

This month in EnRoute Magazine.

 

The place has a gravitational pull all its own. Just passing Amenal, 10 kilometers east, walking through a light rain, before I even glimpse the tips of its famous cathedral spires, I feel Santiago de Compostella like a spinning vortex just over the green rim of the Galician horizon. It moves people.

The Spanish town has had this effect for a long time. Consider that it was way back in the ninth century when the Apostle James’ tomb was reportedly found on a hill nearby. Word spread; people began to arrive. On foot, on horseback. Alone and in caravans. So many people that by the 12th century, an ambassador for Emir Ali ben Yusuf wrote back to his master, “So great is the multitude that comes and goes, that there is barely enough space on the pavement.”

Posted: Monday, May. 17, 2010 7:25am

Going to Mecca, or its near equivalent

When I was writing my architecture novel, Story House, I had a small library of images that I used to shape my sense of Packer Gordon, the senior architect in the story. It's no secret that Arthur Erikson was one inspiration, particularly his wooden houses. And especially the beautiful Filberg House.

But Vladimir Ossipoff, the Hawaii based modernist, was another inspiration.

And now, after all these years, I'm finally going to see his work in real life. I'll be in Hawaii for 10 days, mid March, working on a number of stories. But a piece for Western Living (guided so creatively by Charlene Rooke over the past few years) will be about Ossipoff. I'll be touring various buildings of his, including the famous Liljestrand House and the Goodsill House.

Amazing. Thanks Western Living. This is going to seriously rock.

Posted: Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2010 2:09pm

Age and Innovation

From the February 2010 Report on Business Magazine
 
You may have heard rumours that the Mayan calendar forecasts the world will end in 2012. However, the Mayans missed a lesser milestone: In two years' time, fully half of all federal government employees will be eligible for retirement.
 
Yes, the work force is aging. There will soon be fewer young people entering the work force than there are older people leaving it. The demographic shift has Stanford economist Paul Romer worried. "Young people, I think, tend to be more innovative, more willing to take risks, more willing to do things differently," he said in a recent interview, "and they may be very important, disproportionately important, in this innovation and growth process."
Posted: Monday, Mar. 1, 2010 10:48am

Olympics at street level, Diyah Pera photographs

I went out with Diyah Pera, a photographer friend of mine, on Friday to watch the protests. She took some great pictures.

I like the one above in particular. There's hope and determination in the face. There's another quality I'll inadequately describe as "realness". Experience, life lived. I don't know about you, but I want to hear what this person has to say.

But then you have the Che icon, and suddenly the air starts to come out of the tires. Che Guevara, whose Stalinist convictions lead him to sign a letter to his mother "Stalin II" at one point. (Please note the link is to the Workers Liberty website, not the National Review.)

I'm not trying to trash anyone's favorite t-shirt hero here. Only pointing out the irony. Stalin was known for many things, but tolerating protest marches certainly wasn't one of them.

More pix after the jump.

Posted: Monday, Feb. 15, 2010 1:04pm

The Feel Good Economy

From the January 2010 Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine
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"Paying it forward" is an old idea with new life lately. Brands as different from one another as Dove, Starbucks, TalkTalk wireless in Britain, and the Albertan credit union Servus have each launched promotional campaigns that blur the line between business and philanthropy.

Benjamin Franklin pioneered the idea more than 200 years ago when he lent a colleague some money on the condition that it be repaid not to Franklin but to someone else in need. Franklin wrote at the time: "This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money."

Posted: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 5:13pm

Learning to live with the Suicide Machine

It's hard not to twin the phenomenon of the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, as reported in Time this week, and the release of Jaron Lanier's new manifesto against Internet hive think You Are Not a Gadget.

On the one hand, you have long time technology analyst describing the ensnaring culture of the Internet hive-mind. On the other hand, you have a techology company offering a way out: kill your online self.

Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 9:54am
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