Friday, January 28, 2011

My presentation at the annual Sherlock Holmes dinner of the Bimetallic Society of Montreal on Saturday, January 22, 2011 – attended by a crowd of over sixty enthusiasts in spite of sub-zero weather – went rather well, even if I say so myself.

I prepared a semi-fictitious story for the occasion, constructed so that I could keep ‘em guessing for a quarter of an hour, until the very last moment. When I finally pulled the ‘rabbit’ out of my ‘hat’ (Holmes’ pipe out of a box) the room dissolved into laughter and enthusiastic clapping.

The venue was elegant, the food good, and the costumes fetching.

I was amazed to learn that there were over 800 active Sherlockian Society branches around the world, (we need another link here) each of which has one member charged with reading the obits. in the London Times daily to make sure no announcement of Sherlock Holmes’ demise has appeared. The Sherlockians hold that Holmes is still alive. Their ‘logical’ argument supporting such a belief goes something like this:

Sherlock Holmes was an important public figure.

The Times automatically publishes an obituary for every such person.

No such obit has thus far appeared.
Therefore, Sherlock Holmes is still alive – somewhere.
QED – Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


It has become fashionable, of late, to wonder out loud and in detail about what would happen in Cuba once the regime changed.

Of course, gazing into the future requires an analysis of the past and the present.

One of the most compelling of such analyses is a book written by Jose Azel and entitled “Mañana in Cuba”. Dr. Azel is well qualified to speak on the topic. He is currently a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.

I found the following passage in his book most telling:

“Unfortunately, the Cuban transition to democracy and free markets is highly unlikely to follow the path of some of the most successful Eastern European countries that faced similar, but not identical challenges. Cuba´s post-Castro interregnum [...a period of discontinuity of government organization or social order...] will be, arguably, the most critical period in the nation’s history. It will be a period during which inexperienced post-Castro leaders will face myriad social, political and economic policy decisions. Unseasoned leaders will need to make strategic, tactical and operational policy choices that will impact not only the existing circumstances, but the nation’s immediate and long-term future. And, in all probability, this will have to take place in an environment of socio-political and economic disarray and confusion, if not outright chaos.” (Italics mine).

Will Uncle Sam just stand or will he interfere?

Your guess is as good as mine.