February 2011

If you like fountain pens, or are curious about them, consider picking up Pelikan’s inexpensive pen designed for European schoolchildren. It costs less than $30 and has a good writing and ink delivery mechanism. It is very bright and simple in its design (they come in primary colours), but there is nothing wrong with that. […]


For the good of society at large, it does make sense to isolate some particularly dangerous people from the general population. At the same time, society has an obligation to manage imprisonment in a sensible way, including by avoiding the vindictive temptation to make prisons themselves Hobbesian jungles in which those who are incarcerated have […]


Do you have Photoshop and a fondness for monochrome images? They can be made prettier with a bit of toning.


On failure


in Daily updates

Here’s a hypothesis I have been trying out lately: If you aren’t failing and getting rejected a lot, you aren’t being ambitious enough. It’s a point of view that helps keep a person going when they are applying for job after job, with no interviews so far. It could also be of some comfort to […]


One persistent problem in politics everywhere is that politicians know that spending equals votes, while tax increases tend to cost them. There is always a pressure to spend unsustainably and then leave the bill for somebody else to deal with. Some people have even called this a strategy for shrinking governments they believe to be […]


As part of Black History Month, I attended a speech by Adrian Harewood, a journalist with the CBC. One of the things he spoke about was the importance of interrogating received versions of history – going back and uncovering the more complex story that has usually been streamlined into a simpler narrative. He gave the […]


Over lunch yesterday, I had an idea for a climate change art installation that would represent the task that needs to be completed and, crucially, the kind of raw work that needs to go into it. The central feature would be a steel bar extending up diagonally to the right, shaped like historical and projected […]


Just out of curiosity, how many of the readers of this blog still live in their place of birth? For those who live elsewhere, how many different places have you lived for a good stretch of time (say, more than a year)? I was born in Vancouver and now live in Ottawa. Aside from those […]


In The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris repeatedly questions the societal taboo against critically evaluating religious beliefs. For instance, people are hesitant to raise evidence or arguments that contradict religious claims, as well as point out instances in which different claims made by the same religion contradict one another. This is at least a bit different […]


Aaron Wherry recently made a provocative claim in a long-form piece for Macleans.ca: The House of Commons is a sham. It’s worth a look, though it is debatable how important the work happening in the commons room itself is, compared with the work that supports it: committees, studies, etc.