Language

For at least a year now people have been quite appropriately doing important work in questioning legacies of racism and institutionalized forms of racism at Massey College, including in the traditional use of the title “Master” to refer to the head of the College. A hurtful, callous, and offensive remark made in the dining hall […]

{ 9 comments }

The Bagehot column on the U.K. in this week’s Economist contains some of the harshest language I have seen them use, about the Theresa May government trying to implement Brexit, saying: “Britain is ruled by an incestuous clique of frenemies who delight in turning even the most serious issues into melodramas”. It’s worrisome that so […]

{ 1 comment }

One mechanism of control used by the Chinese government is censorship of the media and the internet. Reportedly, this has been so comprehensive and successful that young people in China are unlikely to know about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. This is an important example of how governments are often the biggest threat to […]

{ 10 comments }

For analyzing climate change activism, the contentious politics theoretical framework associated with Doug McAdam (a sociology professor at Stanford), Sidney Tarrow (a professor of government and sociology at Cornell), and Charles Tilly (formerly a social science professor at Columbia) has much to recommend it. In particular, it incorporates many explanatory factors used in the related […]

{ 0 comments }

“Nothing sways them from the habit—not illness, not the sacrifice of love and relationships, not the loss of all earthly goods, not the crushing of their dignity, not the fear of dying. The drive is that relentless… If human life was so simple that people learned from negative consequences, well then human history would be […]

{ 7 comments }

Step 1: British comedian John Oliver produces an absurd segment about coal CEO Bob Murray: In it, Oliver acknowledges Murray’s history of litigiousness toward critics and challenges him to do his worst. Step 2: Murray sues Oliver for defamation in West Virginia circuit court Step 3: As reported in Slate, Jamie Lynn Crofts of the […]

{ 3 comments }

In another attempt to dissuade Pakistan from its nuclear path, Kissinger visited Pakistan in August 1976. At the same time, U.S. elections were sparking debates, and Democrat Jimmy Carter’s agenda specifically targeted Kissinger and his relaxed response to India’s nuclear test. As Dennis Kux writes, “Kissinger and Ford were under pressure to demonstrate that they […]

{ 5 comments }

The technical term “supergrade” has had a pair of distinctly American meanings: (a) A supergrade was the civilian equivalent of an Army general (b) Supergrade is industry parlance for plutonium alloy bearing an exceptionally high fraction of Pu-239 (>95%), leaving a very low amount of Pu-240 which is a gamma emitter in addition to being […]

{ 0 comments }

An interesting genre! And you can own a gorgeous-looking replica for $100.

{ 1 comment }

I’ve written before about some problems with biometric security: it seems convenient to be able to use facial recognition to log in to your computer, until you find your co-workers doing it with colour photocopies of your picture. Computers aren’t the only context where we use biometrics for identification. “Don’t you recognize my voice?” has […]

{ 5 comments }