I am at Convocation Hall for a meeting of the members of CUPE3902 Unit 1 – the union for teaching assistants at the University of Toronto. We are discussing a tentative agreement which the bargaining team reached with the administration late last night. To me, the proposed deal looks deeply inadequate. They are proposing wage […]


One neat thing about J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is the way in which the story is set within multiple frames. The Hobbit, for instance, is sometimes presented as the account written of his adventures by Bilbo Baggins. It is also presented as part of the Red Book of Westmarch: […]


Fry on language

November 26, 2014

in Geek stuff, Rants, Writing

The brilliant Stephen Fry on the balance between rule-following and tiresome pedantry in language use: I admit that if you want to communicate well for the sake of passing an exam or job interview, then it is obvious that wildly original and excessively heterodox language could land you in the soup. I think what offends […]


“More recently you have the positive psychologists who are deluded enough to believe that happiness is a hallmark of mental health – which has gotta be the stupidest theory that’s come out in the last, I would say, probably 2000 years.”


Love of country! There’s a curious phrase. Love of a particular patch of earth? Scarcely. Put a German down in a field in Northern France, tell him that it is Hannover, and he cannot contradict you. Love of fellow-countrymen? Surely not. A man will like some of them and dislike others. Love of the country’s […]


Both for people who are new to English and for life-long speakers, one of the most consistently confusing aspects of the language seems to be the apostrophe. There†s a pretty straightforward reason for this, I think, and it†s one that could be addressed fairly easily if people are willing to consider a minor linguistic change. […]

{ 1 comment }

Partly because of its supposed effectiveness in countering stress, spending moderate amounts of time at the gym falls within what I consider acceptable procrastination. It certainly helps that the Hart House gym has pretty good hours and is only a four minute walk from my bedroom (as well as the libraries where I should generally […]



July 16, 2014

in Economics, Rants

Civil servant: which L-series lens should I buy next? PhD student: what’s the minimum number of pairs of socks I can function with?


I am having real difficulty preparing for my next comprehensive exam, principally because the material to be memorized is so dull that every activity and chore holds more appeal than studying. The only answer is a sort of sensory deprivation: declining all social invitations, banning forays into more interesting books, refusing to undertake photography projects, […]


Both to feel a little less surveilled and to be subjected to fewer deviations from whatever stream of thought is ongoing, I often choose to leave my cell phone at home when going out. The choice does serve those purposes but, whether my phone-side pocket is empty or stocked with some less intrusive object, I […]

{ 1 comment }