October 2008

What we eat, how we travel, and how our individual actions are positioned in a societal context are factors relevant to climate change. As posters from the Second World War demonstrate, similar issues were of public concern then:


The last few days have seen Obama endorsements from The Globe and Mail, The Economist, and even The Colbert Report. FiveThirtyEight.com is projecting a high likelihood of Obama victory. With the moment of decision at hand, most of the world is definitely hoping that Americans will choose Obama. Within five days, we will know if […]


Several times, the American government has held open competitions to create new cryptographic standards. Important examples include the Data Encryption Standard (DES) selected in 1976 and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) chosen in 2001. As mentioned before, the hunt is now on for a new hash function. These are one-way forms of encryption that play […]


One issue raised at the conference I recently attended was this: both Ontario and Germany are in the position where they want to phase out coal-fired power plants. In addition, Germany has decided to phase out nuclear power, whereas Ontario is strongly considering maintaining and expanding existing facilities. In order to phase out nuclear without […]


Among rich states, none is more threatened by sea level rise than the Netherlands. Their plans are reflective of this. Following the terrible flood of 1953, they began their Delta Works scheme for protection against storms. Now, they are contemplating how to modify that system to deal with at least 200 years of rising sea […]

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Yesterday, I saw a fascinating presentation by


Many times before, I have written about the ethics of meat consumption. Critical issues include the health and environmental impacts of factory farming, greenhouse gas emissions, and the perverse ways in which animals are made to live contrary to their natures. All that being said, I think it is actually more ethical to spend the […]


A serious section concludes Richard Feynman’s Surely You’re Joking, in which he denounces various forms of bad science. He talks about the pseudoscience of UFOs and reflexology, but also about problems with the work done by credible scientists, such as the bias towards publishing positive results and ignoring negative or inconclusive ones. He raises issues […]


Until Wednesday evening, I will be in Toronto for a conference. Does anybody know about any interesting plays, shows, art exhibitions, and so forth that are ongoing in the city now or happening during that timespan? Options that are inexpensive and unusual would be preferred. My days will be full, but the evenings are pretty […]


Sometimes, living up to one’s ideals requires becoming an extremist. That is to say, speaking and acting in a manner very different from what is normal within the population. Not doing so risks being a hypocrite, since you would be telling others to take actions that you are personally unwilling to take. At the same […]