Many of us will remember the sketch from the 1983 Monty Python movie The Meaning of Life and the restaurant maître d' played by John Cleese. “And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint,” he said to his diner, a man of enormous size and girth. Offering the man one more teeny, tiny morsel of food ended badly. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know. (If you haven’t, use your imagination). It is a hilarious (and gross) warning of the pitfalls of gluttony and excess.
Is it one to which Albertans should pay attention?
What is it about people that we’re so attracted to economic panic and alarm? Are the business pages and economic news stories so bland and lifeless that we need to stir up crises out of nothing?
Consider one of the biggest news stories this fall in Alberta: the E.Coli situation. Several weeks ago, there was a serious breech of safety standards at one of Canada’s largest beef packing facilities in Brooks, Alberta. Meat tainted with E.Coli ended up on supermarket shelves, and several people grew ill. It was a real problem.
But it wasn't a crisis.
For those hockey fans who are grieving the lockout and having withdrawal, here are the economic stories of the week in a form you may appreciate:
Game 1: Berlin Penny-Pinchers vs. The Athens Big Spenders
Score: Berlin 2, Athens 0
Attendance: 11.3 million angry Greeks
The last time these two clubs met was a knock-down, drag-out affair with Athens coming out on top. Last season, Berlin’s star goalie, Angela Merkel, strayed too far out of her goal crease and gave up three unanswered goals (referred to as 'bailouts' in the European league) in the final minutes of the game.
A performance artist on Calgary’s Stephen Avenue mall turned heads and raised eyebrows this week. His project involved enclosing himself into a clear plastic cube for five full days with only water, a sleeping bag, a portable toilet, and lots and lots of paint. Over the course of the week, he has been painting fantastic murals on the sides of his transparent home. By Friday afternoon, if all goes according to plan, he completely disappears behind the painted images.
He is—in this case quite literally—painting himself into a corner.
Bank of Canada Mark Carney may sympathize with this performance artist...