Today in History: Lord of the Rings

On September 21 of 1937, a small and whimsical children’s book by an apparently dry Oxford professor appeared. The Hobbit has its failings, to the point that the movies are actually better than the book, very much unlike the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. But it already contained the germ of the powerful moral vision that was to blossom into Tolkien’s unforgettable and transformative trilogy.

Today in history - Gorbachev

Stepped down as chairman of the committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was something of a hapless performance. And in one sense, Gorbachev can and should be seen as a bumbler. But the most important thing about him was a fundamental decency that meant the end of communism was remarkably bloodless. 

Ask the Professor, August 10, 2017

A recent weather network article made outlandish claims about man-made climate change, including that average summer temperatures in Ottawa would rise from 20 to 27 degrees Centigrade by 2200 unless by giving up fossil fuels we limited it to 24 degrees. How does one counter such outlandish claims?

Ask the Professor, August 5, 2017

With the new website I seem to have a better view of the "studio" in which you record your replies to Ask the Professor. While watching the latest I noticed that on the bookshelf over your left shoulder is a copy of an anthology of Mickey Spillane novels. Mickey Spillane? Not what I expected to find on John Robson's bookshelf.