Banning Phosphorus

In 2014, Toledo experienced a water crisis that caused the city to issue a “do not use” warning for more than 500,000 residents. They had to rely on bottled water; boiling wasn’t safe because it further released toxins into the water. That crisis was caused by unsafe levels of the toxin Microcystin in the city’s treated water. The toxin came from the unprecedented algal bloom in … (more–>)

Architeuthis dux redux Imagine swimming beside a giant squid. That’s what happened recently to some Japanese divers, on Xmas eve, who happened to have the presence of mind to film this extraordinary event. The video, above, shows the animal in its glory. Stunningly beautiful.* Giant squid are rarely seen, and generally inhabit much deeper waters than humans can reach. Having one close enough to touch is bother exhilarating … (more–>)

Judas, a Biography

Long before Darth Vader, long before Lord Voldemort, long before Stephen Harper, Judas Iscariot reigned as the supreme icon of evil in Western mythology. Judas betrayed God. How much worse can you get?* For 2,000 years we’ve used the term Judas to refer to anyone who betrayed anything, any cause, any belief, any friendship. Yet, like all the icons of evil that came before, and who have followed, … (more–>)

The birth and death of privacy

I was in a local grocery store recently and it was my misfortune to enter, and walk most of the same aisles at the same time as a voluble woman shopper. She spent her entire time there on her cell phone. From before she entered, through the time she collected her groceries, went through the cash register, and exited, she did not once stop talking. Loudly. And it … (more–>)

Why Do We Make Music?

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak. I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d, And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d, By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound. What then am I? Am I more senseless grown Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe! ‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs. Anselmo sleeps, and … (more–>)

The Mouse on Mars

No, that’s not the title of a 1960s’ sitcom or a 1950s’ movie. It’s what some conspiracy theorist thinks he found in a NASA photograph taken by the Curiosity Rover on Mars, in late 2014. The story was posted on the IFL Science website this week. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Why pay these poor, deluded wingnuts any attention when it’s such an obvious case of … (more–>)

Climate Change and Collingwood

Climate change is arguably the single most pressing, most important, most challenging issue to affect governments at this time. Our world is suffering and weather is getting extreme in many parts. It’s affecting crops, wildlife, safety, water… everything. But what are Canadian municipalities doing to combat it, to reign in their use of fossil fuels, reduce their carbon footprint, reduce emissions, pollution, and embrace alternate energy … (more–>)

What KIC 8462852 Says About Us

KIC 8462852. Hardly a household name. But it may be, one day soon, or at least when it garners a more prosaic name. It’s a star and it sits rather forlornly in space in the rightmost edge of the constellation Cygnus, almost 1,500 light years away. And although it’s too dim to be seen by the naked eye, it has caught the attention of astronomers and conspiracy theorists alike, worldwide. … (more–>)

Books versus E-readers

Back in February, Naomi Baron wrote a piece called “Reading on-screen versus on paper,” in which she compared the two reading experiences: printed books and e-readers in five areas: Cost Container vs content Environmental impact Quality of screens Concentration Baron actually looks at these as true-or-false questions, not really comparisons. She doesn’t address issues like aesthetics, tactile sense or emotional response, or the relative value of hypertext … (more–>)

Fishy Thoughts

Canadians, the headline reads, now have shorter attention span than goldfish thanks to portable devices. The story in today’s National Post underscores a growing problem that is fuelled by technology: our dwindling attention spans. The Microsoft study of 2,000 Canadians found our collective attention span has dwindled to a mere eight seconds, down from an already embarrassing 12 seconds a similar study found back in the … (more–>)

The Worm Turns

This morning when I was doing my regular news search online, I came across two stories that stopped me cold: we’re being invaded. By worms. Yep. Worms. Not the slimy invertebrates who write scurrilous, defamatory self-aggrandizing blogs and whine about free speech when they are taken to court over their lies, but actual earthworms. Nightcrawlers. The little invertebrates we have in our gardens and at the end … (more–>)

Pompeii: Swords-and-Sandals Flop

As a film setting, the town of Pompeii in the first century CE is a lot like the deck of the Titanic in 1912: no amount of special effects or clever script writing is going to save it from the disaster awaiting. As a film, Pompeii has a lot of the former, but precious little of the latter to rescue it. That’s probably why it’s in the … (more–>)

It’s Official: Homeopathy is Bunk

“Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report finds,” reads a headline in The Guardian this week. Well, that’s hardly news. But it repeats saying anyway. It’s a story about the latest in a series of studies that again and again debunk homeopathy as a treatment and conclude it is useless. Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) “…thoroughly reviewed 225 research papers on homeopathy … (more–>)

Smoking = Stupidity

I don’t know how to sugar coat this in some politically-correct, sensitive, caring way that doesn’t overtly offend anyone, but if you haven’t already figured this out by now, here it is: smoking is stupid. Really stupid. Even worse, smoking makes you even more stupid while you do it: Researchers tested the IQs of more than 20,000 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 21 … (more–>)

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