Cam's Blog

September 23, 2010

Imaginary numbers on BBC Radio 4

Filed under: Math — cfranc @ 4:22 pm

Here is a nice lay introduction to imaginary numbers with Marcus du Sautoy, Ian Stewart and Caroline Series.

September 19, 2010

Chretien’s years as Prime Minister

Filed under: Books, Politics — cfranc @ 2:57 pm

Jean Chretien released a second volume of memoires several years ago, “My years as Prime Minister”, focusing on… well, the title is self-explanatory. I picked up a copy for five bucks from a local Indigo several weeks ago. After failing to get interested in Timothy Findley’s “Pilgrim”, I started it yesterday and am quite amused. It’s written in a very personal style, and is candid without being a smear-fest. Chretien was Prime Minister for a large chunk of my childhood, and so he’s always assumed somewhat mythic proportions in my mind. It’s both enlightening and nostalgic to finally sit down and study his time in office more seriously.

I was a little surprised to discover that he had quite a wit about him, which might tell you just how little attention I paid to politics as a child. His book is filled with entertaining anecdotes, such as when Ross Perot called Chretien very soon after his election, before he had even assembled a cabinet, in order to strike down the NAFTA trade agreement that was waiting for the final okay from Ottawa and Washington:

Perot congratulated me on my victory, and then he said — his thick Texan accent made harder to understand by his rapid way of talking — “Mr. Chretien, if you manage to block NAFTA from going through, I will erect a huge statue to you here in Texas.”

“Thank you very much, sir,” I replied lightly, “But, you know, there aren’t many votes for me in Texas.”

Was this a humorous way for Perot to tell Chretien just how much he wanted to block NAFTA, or was it an honest offer that he thought might persuade Chretien to drop the historic trade deal? The rationalist in me says the former, but I so want to believe it was the latter…

For more of Chretien’s wit, check out this youtube clip. Be sure to watch right to the end.

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