In Ontario’s heartland, shades of a foreign evil

The day after the murders, when we all thought it might still be a freak accident, I went up to locks at Kingston Mills to see where the car had been found in the water. I know the place well, taking many friends up there to explain how British military concerns shaped our local history. But on Dominion Day the concerns were more crime scene investigation than 19th-century military strategy. Continue reading

Communism’s first last stand

~ in Krakow, Poland ~

It’s been 15 years since I first came here, and Europe’s loveliest city has very much returned to the normality it was denied for much of 20th century. If there’s a worldwide economic crisis, it is not readily apparent here, with the streets full of Cracovians and tourists — including, regrettably, a large number of Britain’s nastiest export, the lager louts who hardly seem to need alcohol to be boorish. Poland, like most northern European countries, has discovered that proper cuisine requires either a Mediterranean or Indian touch, and so it is now easier to get kebabs in Krakow than borscht and perogies. Good for the Poles who, in this globalized economy, really should not have to eat Polish food any more than Brits should have to eat British food. Continue reading

The land of bloated budgets

– in Omaha, Nebraska –

At the airport here, Warren Buffet greets all arriving passengers. The celebrated investor doesn’t do it in person, but a large billboard of him is the first thing you see upon arrival. Few cities have a money manager as their local hero. The virtues of Warren Buffet’s approach — look for good fundamentals, seek value where others overlook it, be patient and aim for the long term — are not just an investment philosophy, but indicative of a the general attitude people like to think they have in the Great Plains — thrifty, careful, farsighted, self-reliant. Continue reading