Rants

The suspension of disbelief has a particular peculiar character within the science fiction genre. While there is certainly sci-fi that rejects all standards of realism rooted in actual science, and which might thus be better seen as a kind of fantasy with technology, most sci-fi seeks to imagine things that could be possible in the […]

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Among environmental groups, Greenpeace has a reputation for being hostile to technologies like genetically modified foods and nuclear power, as well as of often saying poorly justified and hyperbolic things about them. As a civil servant, I remember learning never to trust figures or claims found only in a Greenpeace report, but to seek corroboration […]

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When it comes to stopping unsustainable fossil fuel development, anything that creates investor uncertainty can be useful. By that metric, the British Columbia government’s announcement of a diluted bitumen shipment expansion moratorium while it studies how a diluted bitumen spill would unfold is a small contribution to shifting Canada to an acceptable development pathway. Still, […]

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As an experiment in living and in an effort to protect my sleep I have set my router to disable internet access from all my devices between 2:00am and 7:00am seven days a week. Especially when I am feeling down and wishing I could avoid things, there is a temptation to just keep clicking through […]

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Reporting on the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s global wealth report, The Economist explains: If the world’s wealth were divided equally, each household would have $56,540. Instead, the top 1% own more than half of all global wealth. The median wealth per household is just $3,582; if you own more than that, you are in the […]

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This term’s first big batch of grading — essays for my Canadian politics course — is due no later than Monday evening. Please wish me fortitude in getting through the last three dozen. I believe basically everyone finds grading stressful and tedious. It invalidates my ordinary procrastination flowchart, since it is always possible to devote […]

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Along with The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Phillip Pullman’s essay “Malevolent voices that despise our freedoms” must be one of his most radical pieces of writing. It corresponds to his general concern about lack of oversight over powerful institutions and speaks out powerfully against the authoritarianism that can arise in parallel with […]

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I’ve written elsewhere about how The Economist doesn’t understand climate change. In their science section and the occasional editorial they stress the need for massive and urgent action, but their thinking is not joined up. Their general editorial stance remains that economic growth is the greatest good, every new fossil fuel discovery is a boon, […]

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Astrology maddens me, especially when generally sensible people treat is as harmless fun. Back in 2006, I said: “astrology is utter nonsense, and … human life in general would be better if everyone could completely and finally reject it as bunk”. I just learned another way in which the practice goes beyond being a harmless […]

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A small but indicative example of how the University of Toronto doesn’t prioritize the welfare of its students is the way in which the gym access included in student fees during the fall and winter terms is cut off in the summer, requiring students to pay a per-facility fee to keep using it. This is […]

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