We are Stardust… and Viral Genes

In her classic song, Woodstock, Joni Mitchell ended with the chorus: We are stardust Billion-year-old carbon We are golden Caught in the devil’s bargain And we’ve got to get ourselves Back to the garden Which most people assume is merely poetic licence. Well, Joni wasn’t wrong: we – and every living thing on our planet – are made of stardust. As we learn at Physics Central: … (more–>)

Why Creationists Don’t Win the Nobel Prize

Looking at the list of Nobel prizes awarded in 2013 for science, we see three prestigious entries: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “For the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and … (more–>)

Why do so few Canadians get a flu shot?

That’s the headline for a recent Toronto Star story. It suggests that as few as one third of Canadians get a flu vaccine, and in some place the number may be as low as 20 percent. This despite Ontario having the world’s first universal free flu shot program, introduced in 2000. The 2013-14 vaccine is on its way to doctors’ offices now. It’s also available at … (more–>)

Poor Lao Tzu: He Gets Blamed for So Much

Poor Lao Tzu. He gets saddled with the most atrocious of the New Age codswallop. As if it wasn’t enough to be for founder of one of the most obscure  philosophies (not a religion, since it has no deity), he gets to be the poster boy for all sorts of twaddle from people who clearly have never read his actual writing. This time it’s a mushy … (more–>)

Internet Surveys: Bad Data, Bad Science and Big Bias

Back in 2012, I wrote a blog piece about internet polls and surveys, asking whether internet polls and surveys could be – or should be – considered valid or scientific. I concluded, after researching the question, that, since the vast majority lack any scientific basis and are created by amateurs – often with a goal to direct rather than measure public opinion – that, Most internet … (more–>)

The (sometimes violent) urge to write

As of this writing, I will have published 253 posts since I began this blog at the ending week of December, 2011. Two hundred and fifty three posts in 21 months. Just over one post every two-and-a-half days, on average. Plus 30 or so still in draft mode. Another half-dozen scribbled in word processing notes or notebooks. And that doesn’t include the six years of blog … (more–>)

Why Spelling Matters

Sometimes I despair when I surf through the social media. Technology has empowered everyone to be able to comment, to post their stories, to share their opinion. Yet it has not enabled their ability to compose a sentence, or to spell the words correctly. It has not made us better grammarians, better spellers. And in my despair, I’m not alone. Others take exception to the general … (more–>)

The Unknown Monk Meme

This pseudo-poem popped up on Facebook today. It’s been around the Net for a few years, without any source attributed to the quote, but it seems to be making its comeback in the way these falsely-attributed things do: When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. … (more–>)

The Moral Compass

I have a laminated card beside me, wallet-sized so it can be carried around easily. I made it at my shop a few years ago; just a simple, two-sided business card with some text. It’s part of my personal moral compass. We all benefit from some guidance, at times, something to remind us of the higher things. I look at it frequently through the day, as a … (more–>)

Chemtrails redux: the attack of the tin-foil hat brigade

My earlier post on the nonsensical chemtrail conspiracy has generated quite a lot of activity recently (more than 1,000 views in a few days – thanks!). So much so that I decided to look online again to see why – had this silliness abated? Were people waking up and laughing at their former craziness? Or was it spreading more among the hard-of-thinking and the anti-science crowd? … (more–>)

The Cosmic Origins of Life

Here’s one to confound the creationist crowd: life may have begun as a result of organic molecules resulting from impacts by comets or meteorites. No supernatural foundation, no invisible hand guiding the process. Just random crashes, a little physics, some chemistry, a while lot of time, and voila: life. But wait, there’s more… How did these molecules go from static organic molecules to self-reproducing you ask? … (more–>)

$35 Million Costs Confirmed in Report

I was told recently that the $35 million projected capital costs  for the Central Park redevelopment had been called a “red herring.” That’s verifiably untrue. The actual total amount shown in the final report is $35,251,965.11. This isn’t a made up number, an inflated number or an imaginary number. It isn’t a council number, either. In fact the two council PRC representatives did not even attend … (more–>)

Empire of Illusion and the End of Literacy

I don’t know whether to feel vindicated, delighted, frightened or depressed as I read through Chris Hedges’s book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. Much of what he says reflects many of my own observations and opinions. I started reading this book in part as research for my upcoming conference speech on social media, but it has kept me mesmerized, … (more–>)

What’s it all about, Alfie?

“What’s it all about, Alfie?” sings Cilla Black in the title song for the eponymous 1966 movie. But it could be the anthem for the human race, or at least those with a philosophical bent. “What’s it all about?” is certainly a question that springs to my mind daily as I listen to the news, read a paper or surf the internet.* What “it” is all … (more–>)

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