Rants

The capricious forces directing undergraduate teaching in political science have set me up for an extremely difficult term. First, I was assigned to teach an hour’s $6 shuttle drive away, at the Missisauga campus. Second, my “tutorials” are starting with 30 students each. With only five tutorials in the entire course, this raises the question […]

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After the comparative aimlessness of the long summer, I am looking forward to September. I will be teaching tutorials for a first year Canadian politics course out at U of T Mississauga and persisting with my own PhD research. I’m looking forward to the resumption of life and lunches at Massey College, meeting new junior […]

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Somehow, this article seems indicative of the low quality of a lot of our thinking about environmental issues: Mesmerizing ‘blue whirl’ from fire tornado could be cleaner solution for oil spills: Scientists discover clean-burning blue flame while simulating a fire tornado in the lab. It seems a particularly questionable application of the idea that technology […]

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After many shorter spans which left us sweating in our third floor rooms, Toronto is now immersed in the longest and most intense heat wave of the summer so far. This leaves me feeling awkward about actually owning an air conditioner, which I have never moved from its storage location in our living room. During […]

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Quoted by Richard Rhodes, Daniel Ellsberg said of U.S. bureaucracy that it: “does not require true believers to run it. … The system consciously runs by men who — in order to stay in the game, to be close to the center of power, to have the hope that someday the moment may come when […]

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The main storytelling device in William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral is after-the-fact exposition (ATFE), which gives it the feeling of a mystery more than conventional science fiction. Rather than tell you in advance how a world or a technology works, Gibson shows you the results without context and provides the explanation later. This does well […]

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In each year of my PhD, I have applied for all the summer teaching assistant (TA) positions offered in the Department of Political Science (and, after second year, in the School of the Environment too). I never heard anything back as the result of my applications, including for frequently-advertised ’emergency’ positions and jobs in statistics […]

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The often disturbing spectacle of the rise of Donald Trump as a leading Republican contendor in the presidential race prompts many emotional and analytical responses: about the long decline of America as a superpower since 1945, about the dysfunctional features of party politics and American politics in particular, and about the chasm between quality information […]

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The fossil fuel divestment campaign at the University of Toronto is still dealing with the disappointment of President Gertler announcing such an uninspiring response to the social injury and financial risk associated with fossil fuel investments. One early response from the campaign was to hold a creative direct action outside Simcoe Hall, home to the […]

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I got my 16 GB iPhone 4 back in February 2011 and it has mostly worked well. Now, much like my 160 GB iPod Classic, the battery life is badly depleted. I am lucky if it lasts through a 30 minute phone call, or more than an hour or so of poking around with email […]

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