May 2010

I have written before about privacy and Facebook, expressing the view that people should treat whatever they put on Facebook in the same way as they treat something they put on a completely public website at this one. It may be wise to give people more granular control over who can see what, but it […]

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Thanks to an unseen pothole on Somerset Street, I ended up spending the night in the hospital with a broken left collarbone. At the moment, it is quite obviously and painfully out of alignment. It needs to be kept immobilized in a sling for six weeks. In a week, the doctors will take more x-rays […]

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For the last few months, my internet connection has been maddeningly unreliable. Oftentimes, it has trouble with basic tasks like loading text-based websites or accessing email. The only mechanism I have found for improving matters was to power down my DSL router, wait a few minutes, and then turn it back on. That made things […]

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Friends of Gin & Tonic is an amusing website that sets out to mock climate change deniers. They describe their mission as: “Self Interest and Climate Change Denial” and elaborate by explaining: We seek to inform the public of the findings of a handful of amateurs of unrivalled capability (but almost no ‘formal’ climatological expertise) […]

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Why did governments bail out failing financial institutions? They said it was because banks and insurance companies were so interconnected with the rest of the economy that, if they failed, they would cause a cascade of other failures. If the banks went broke, firms that actually have sound businesses would fall as well. That supposedly […]

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In Canada, our First Past the Post voting system strongly favours the most popular parties and those (like the Bloc) that have concentrated regional appeal. Parties with a good chunk of popular support, but for which it is not concentrated in particular ridings, are excluded from Parliament. Many proposals have been brought forward to address […]

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In 1977, smallpox was eradicated as the result of a massive global effort. Rather than completely eliminate the virus, it was decided that the United States and Russia would each keep a sample. Part of the reasoning for this is that pox viruses are common in the animal world, and could potentially jump between species. […]

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Slate has produced a good series highlighting the limitations of human memory, particularly how easily it can be manipulated and people can be made to remember things that never took place. The imperfect nature of human memory has important consequences, including in situations like criminal proceedings and psychotherapy. It is also discussed in this Paul […]

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The extent of Arctic sea ice has dipped below where it was at this time of year in 2007, the worst year recorded for sea ice. Within the next few months, we will see whether it goes on to set a new record low. If so, perhaps it could be the sort of dramatic event […]

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I picked up James Hynes’ Publish and Perish: Three Tales of Tenure and Terror as a result of it being recommended by the photographer Philip Greenspun. He called it: “the ultimate airplane read for anyone in the university world.” I was expected it to be a light and humourous mockery of academia, written in a […]

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