Hegseth, hand washing and social media

Fox News host Pete Hegseth has said on air that he has not washed his hands for 10 years because “germs are not a real thing”. That’s the headline you read on dozens of media sites and shared throughout social media (this one from BBC News). Instant reactions (mine included) were “ewwww…” followed by negative comments on Fox News in general. But when you stop to … (more–>)

Local media is letting us down

Rule number one in The Elements of Journalism is: “journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.” Number three is “Its essence is a discipline of verification.” Keep those two in mind as you read this. I recognize that local reporting is not always the same calibre as the investigative journalism we expect from national media, but in my view (and experience as a former reporter and … (more–>)

What is science? It’s not this stuff.

Recently in a Facebook post, two of us were squabbling in typical Facebook-fashion over “alternative medicine” and related treatments (many of which came into the discussion as links to pseudoscience and/or charlatan’s websites). As is my wont, I continued to debunk these with links to actual medical sites and discussions on the topic from health services, universities and real doctors. The other person posted a link to … (more–>)

The slow death of reading

To me, one of the most depressing stories to come out of 2018 was posted in The Guardian, last August. Its headline read, “Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound.” Its subhead reads, “When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the … (more–>)

Natural selection simplified

I was startled by the simplicity of the forumla. Stephen Jay Gould, the late eminent paleontologist, biologist and historian of science, summed up Darwin’s basic theory of natural selection so eloquently and so succinctly that it rocked me back on my heels. It was something even a diehard creationist could understand (assuming he or she wanted to try…) First there are three basic facts Gould states … (more–>)

The greening of shaving

But my brother Esau is an hairy man, but I am a smooth man. I recall those lines from a Beyond the Fringe sketch first released in 1964 (see below).* And so it was in my family: my brother was the hirsute Esau to my near-hairless Jacob. I didn’t need to shave until my late teens and even then it was iffy. That was in the … (more–>)

Oumuamua: just a piece of rock

If you can watch the whole bit of this piece of New Age woo hoo without flinching or giving up, you will likely shake your head at the utter, mindless gullibility of humankind. And it’s not even political. But by now you know the Net is crammed full of conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, food fads, creationism, homeopathy and other claptrap. And you already have seen how the … (more–>)

The dogshit dilemma

We have a problem with dogshit. Well, all municipalities do, of course, but ours is increasingly evident: it’s everywhere. And with the growing popularity of pets and our growing population, it’s becoming worse.* How do we deal with it? We pick it up, of course, as we dispose of it in our own garbage bins or in those provide by the municipality downtown or in our … (more–>)

Ollie and pet rescue

We are suckers for the face of a cat at the window, a hungry cat, a cold cat, a lost cat, a cat someone has abandoned to fend for themselves and is doing a poor job of it. The pleading eyes, the rough coat, the quiet shiver in the rain or the cold. How can you turn away from that and still call yourself human? Ollie, … (more–>)

The meaning of dreams

Jack Kerouac woke up most mornings in the 1950s and scribbled into a bedside notebook what he could remember of his dreams. Characters from his novels interacted with fantasies and real life events. The result was eventually published in 1961 as his Book of Dreams; 184 pages of mostly spontaneous or stream-of-consciousness writing, as this excerpt shows: WALKING THROUGH SLUM SUBURBS of Mexico City I’m stopped … (more–>)

Hypergraphia

An article in the September, 2016, issue of Doctor’s Review looks at the curious, compelling affliction called hypergraphia: the obsessive need to write. I never knew before this that there was an actual illness of this sort. As someone who is often driven by a deep compulsion to write, I am both curious and a little afraid to learn more. And of course, I turned to the internet. … (more–>)

Neanderthals: a love story

Squat, hairy, broad shoulders, a big nose, beetle-browed with a low forehead. As Blind Willie McTell wrote in his classic song, Statesboro Blues, “I know ain’t good lookin’, but I swear I’m some sweet woman’s angel child.” That line might have been written for early Neanderthal cousins. First described as dim-witted and brutish, our more recent assessment of them is far less critical, especially of their … (more–>)

Transcendance

It’s not surprising that AI replaced the biological form in the popular Frankenstein monster trope. In fact the smart-evil-machine scenario has been done so often this past decade or so that I’m more surprised any film writer or director can manage to give it some semblance of uniqueness that differs it from all the others. Transcendence tries, tries very hard and almost makes it. But the brass ring … (more–>)

Two conferences and a show

I had the honour and the enjoyment of attending two municipal conferences last week. While no longer directly involved in politics, I am able to keep my finger in some of the political pies through my current work for an NGO. Plus, I like to remain informed and up-to-date about politics and governance, and am always looking for opportunities to increase my knowledge and understanding of pretty much … (more–>)

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