A few years ago in Moscow, I interviewed Edward Limonov, novelist and leader of the National Bolsheviks, a banned political party mostly famous for their party banner -- identical to the flag of Nazi Germany, but with the hammer and sickle in place of the swastika. I expected a vivid display of crazy. I got something much more interesting.
Formally, the National Bolsheviks, which Limonov founded, are the ideological blend of ultra-nationalism and communism their banner suggests. But that's misleading. Limonov's politics have shifted as often and as dramatically as the weather. He has even made common cause with Gary Kasparov's pro-Western liberals.
John de Chastelain, the acclaimed general and diplomat, said something enormously important last week when he responded to rumours that he would be the next governor general. It's not on, said de Chastelain, who will be 73 in July. He's too old. "It would be appropriate to have someone younger and perhaps with better qualifications than mine," de Chastelain told the Globe and Mail.
Discount that bit about qualifications. The accomplishments expected of a governor general have been declining for a generation and de Chastelain's résumé towers over that of any recent occupant of Rideau Hall. But he is indeed almost 73. And he is far from alone in thinking that makes him too old.
Which is a problem for all of us. A big problem.
Over at the National Post, last week was "Junk Science Week," during which Post writers like Peter Foster and Lawrence Solomon identify and denounce widely publicized "science" that is, in reality, shoddy nonsense. The editors also give a sardonic award -- the "Rubber Ducky" -- "to recognize the scientists, NGOs, activists, politicians, journalists, media outlets, cranks and quacks who each year advance the principles of junk science."
It's a great idea. There is plenty of snake oil around and those who peddle it should be called to account. And mocked mercilessly. In that spirit, I'd like to award my own Rubber Ducky. Ahem.