Rants

Howard Dean recently made some interesting comments about young people and U.S. politics: “They’re very independent-minded. They don’t like politics. And they mistrust institutions,” Dean said in his characteristically matter-of-fact style. “I think our problem as Democrats is, we’re the head of the oldest party in the West, and this party is an institution that […]

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George Monbiot’s career advice for aspiring journalists may apply at least as much to civil servants and academics: You want to be free? Then first you must learn to be captive. The advisers say that a career path like this is essential if you don’t want to fall into the “trap” of specialisation: that is […]

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In many ways, the treatment of ethanol in societies like Canada is exceptional. It’s the only powerfully psychoactive drug top-end hotels and restaurants will provide you in unlimited quantities as long as you can pay. It’s the only drug that large groups of strangers routinely use to the point of inebriation together, in contexts ranging […]

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I find the debate about Canadian arms companies selling weapons and vehicles to Saudi Arabia a little perplexing. The media coverage seems to turn on the question of whether the arms and equipment are being used to oppress the civilian population of Saudi Arabia. I find this perplexing because there seems to be ample evidence […]

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When we think about global trends, we tend to focus on their importance and how rapidly things are changing. China’s economic rise, along with massive economic development and urbanization around the world, all have unambiguous importance, though we will endlessly disagree about how they will interact and few of us will live long enough to […]

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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 […]

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A recent Economist article describes a novel camera design with the promise to be far thinner than those that exist now, with some novel features: Not only do Dr Hajimiri’s cameras have no moving parts, they also lack lenses and mirrors—in other words, they have no conventional optics. That does away with the focal depth […]

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It’s selfish, but one thing I hate about living in central Toronto is that there are sirens of one type or another audible almost all day and all night long. Even when no sirens can actually be heard, I hear them screaming in my imagination. The message: “It’s an emergency! But you can’t do anything […]

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What a relief! The last thing the world needs now is the EU falling apart, or another victory for an anti-immigration propagandist. The largest problems we face now call for us to think beyond national units, about the interests and choices of humanity as a whole. Splitting into small combative tribes is a deeply maladaptive […]

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A recent Slate article proposes a neurological mechanism for why human behaviour so frequently consists of choices where we harm our own long-term future prospects and those of others in order to satisfy near-term preferences. Not only do our brains seem to regard our future selves as strangers, but most people rarely think about the […]

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