The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts from the “The New Internationalism” Category

A Neat Symbol of Ingestion

Posted on February 27, 2018

The contrast was stark – and telling. En route back to Canada following a trip to South Sudan, our team was on a layover at Frankfurt. Eager for news – any news – I purchased a Time magazine, poring over its pages to see if anything significant had transpired while we were disconnected from the broader world. And there they were, two adjacent stories which together spelled out so much of what is going wrong and right with the modern world. Molly Ball’s compelling narrative concerning President Trump’s visit to Davos for the annual Global Economic Forum revealed just how much has changed in the past year. Most present had grown more at ease regarding Trump’s influence. One year ago, they were collectively on…

The Journey to “Deeply Disturbed”

Posted on February 23, 2018

Richard Florida is well-known as an American urban theorist, focusing much of his writing on social and economic theory.  He is currently a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute and the University of Toronto.  His book Rise of the Creative Class (2002) and two follow-up volumes maintained that the creative class in cities were in the process of ushering in a new era of urban renewal and prosperity. Events of the last decade, however, and a wide array of new research has revealed some troubling new realities – concerns he writes about in his new book, The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It.  There are some…

Entertained to Death

Posted on February 21, 2018

In high school, like so many other students from that time, I was intrigued by George Orwell’s short novel 1984. His vision of Big Brother seemed more to cast aspersions on the dark Soviet Empire of my youth than anything else.  But Orwell (his real name was Eric Arthur Blair) was too smart for that.  Dying of tuberculosis, he worried that the Western world he was leaving was giving too much power and sway to its political leaders.  By time he died at 46 in 1950, many began viewing his writings as prophetic. 1984’s nation of Oceania was a dystopian nightmare in which citizens traded their freedom for the empty promises of security and material goods, and ended up in a modern kind of…

Homes Without People

Posted on February 16, 2018

It’s a phenomenon few saw coming, but it’s beginning to turn our perspectives on modern cities on its head.  The point of the spear seems to have begun in New York City – Manhattan specifically.  The number of apartments in that region occupied by absentee owners and renters grew from 19,000 in 2000 to 34,000 by 2011 and has likely mushroomed since.  That’s a jump of 70% in just a decade.  One three-block stretch of the Upper East Side has a 57% vacancy rate for 10 months each year. It’s not just developers and owners excessively purchasing properties and holding on to them as they hold out for higher sales (we have lots of them in Canadian cities).  According to Richard Florida in his…

Is Our World Getting Any Better?

Posted on February 15, 2018

Is the world getting better or worse? It’s a ridiculous question really – not just because it depends on who you ask, but because a single answer proves impossible. The conclusion can only be that it is both. Plenty of research has been published legitimizing both arguments. As a kid growing up in Calgary in the 1950s, both dynamics framed my larger view of the world. It seemed a dangerous planet. The threat of imminent nuclear conflict challenged many of our neighbours to consider constructing bomb shelters. Polio made families insecure. Racism hovered over us as a dark cloud, given what was erupting south of the border. Most nations were anything but democratic and were frequently volatile. The communist threat was everywhere. Sadly, three…

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