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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Marx, Darwin and Machiavelli

What do these three men – three of the world’s greatest thinkers – have in common? Science? Economics? Politics? Their impact on culture and society? Their foresight or insight? Their importance to the development of modern thought? Their continued relevance today? The depth and breadth of their wisdom? The quality of their writing? Yes, they […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Facebook, Likes and Big Data

I suppose you could call it ironic. There was a story from a ‘friend’ on my Facebook news feed today called “Quitting the Like” all about escaping Facebook’s data collection processes by simply not “liking” items or comments you see. Right below this ostensibly anti-Facebook story were three related links produced by one of the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness can be a difficult read. Not just for its brooding setting and the sense of morbid inevitability. Conrad’s semi-autobiographical 1899 novel is replete with racism and breezy colonialism: the insufferable superiority of white, Western culture. The casual ability of so-called civilized men to commit savagery in the name of some higher cause is clearly […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Robocalls from Real Robots

“mmm…buzzz…. click…. This is your friendly….buzzz…. automated calling device…click…hummmm… reminding you that….mmmm….buzzz…..click… there are only three days left to…. zzzzz…. take advantage of the Black Friday sales at…. mmmm…. buzzzz….. your…. zzzz… Collingwood…..insert box store name…. mmmm…buzzz…. click….thank you…” Well, maybe robotic telemarketers won’t sound like the solenoid robots on Roger Ramjet, but within the decade, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Rights Without Responsibility

“Why do online spaces often feel so fractious?” asks Helen Lewis in a thought-provoking opinion piece in The Guardian last week. It’s something I’ve been pondering for many years. It’s not just the internet, or even social media, nor is it our increasingly uncivil and impolite society: it’s the technology that seems to be dividing […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Saying Happy Holidays is Acceptable

This time of year we get inundated on Facebook and Twitter with this sort of stupid, offensive warning about saying “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” instead of Merry Christmas. A couple of these appeared in a few hours just today, and there will be more, no doubt. Sorry, but it’s just xenophobic hogwash; an uncomfortably fundamentalist and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Timothy Leary Was Right. Maybe.

This is your brain on drugs. Or rather, the right-hand image is your brain on psilocybin. The other side is your brain on a non-psychedelic drug. Researchers recently discovered some amazing facts about how our brains work on some chemicals. And some psychedelic drugs prove to have pretty amazing effects. But don’t try this at […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Ebola Panic

Ebola has gripped the imagination of North American media and been spun into a terrifying spectre looming like a horseman of the apocalypse over us. So widespread has it become that Jenny McCarthy, one of the top wingnuts of quackery and pseudomedicine, and poster girl for the pro-measles-pro-mumps parents, felt compelled to pipe up with her […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: “A” Personalities: A Theory

When someone tells me he is an “A-type” personality, I cannot help but think of the title of Aaron James’ bestselling book: Assholes *A Theory (Anchor Books, New York, 2014). After all, what else would the “A” stand for when someone boasts to the audience he is an alpha male as if the rest of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Is the Internet making us stupid? Or just shallow?

In my never-ending search for some bit of knowledge one day, during a mix-and-match of search engine terms while looking for classical writers’ views on death and dying, I stumbled onto what might have been an off-kilter New Age site, OM Times, or more likely, a parody of the genre. On the page titled “8 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Our gawker culture

Suddenly the Net lit up with headlines news: celebrity nude photos leaked! Videos too! Facebook timelines were replete with media stories. Shock. Horror. Voyeurism. Click, click, click the viewers racked up the view count as they raced to the sites just in case they actually showed something. A little flesh to feed our insatiable desire […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Classical music matters even more today

The official launch of the new Classical FM 102.9 radio station in Collingwood this past weekend reminded me of my own past history with classical music, but also why it matters so much to have classical music in our lives. And why we need to keep that cultural lifeline to our musical past alive and active. Classical […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Sex, violence and TV shows

We just finished watching the third season of Game of Thrones on DVD this past weekend. Before that, we watched The White Queen, another DVD series (one season only, although it deserved more). As we watched both, I found myself wondering why directors and producers felt the need to insert gratuitous – but apparently obligatory […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Social media and social dialogue

A recent poll done by Pew Research reiterated what I’ve been saying for the past two years: social media (SM) doesn’t necessary facilitate social debate and in fact may be stifling it. Discussion on many SM platforms tends to reinforce existing beliefs because in general only those who feel their beliefs are shared by their circle […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: My Grandfathers’ War

One hundred years ago World War I began, a war that started as a clash in a tiny, almost unknown Balkan state and blossomed into a violent, gruesome war that spread across Europe, the Middle East and reached into Africa and Asia. Within a few years, tens of millions would be dead, the political face […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What’s in a (Popular) Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) A recent article in The Atlantic about how our names impact our lives got me to thinking about how and why we name our children – and what they […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: How to Spot a Communist

As I just learned from a recent piece on Open Culture, I must be a Communist. Based on my preference for writing (and reading), that is. (This would definitely surprise my left-wing friends who often think I’m right of Stephen Harper… himself being so far right of the iconic Genghis Khan that it defines a […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Death of Handwriting?

I almost cried in pleasure when I watched this video; the handwriting is so beautiful. Apparently some viewers have, as Jesus Diaz writes. On Gizmodo he says that it’s: …a video that caused many to discover autonomous sensory meridian response, a perceptual phenomenon that gives a pleasing tingling sensation. Some said they got it watching people […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: When good people do bad things in groups

The headline is taken from a piece on Science Daily on a study about how groups change personal behaviour and morality. The study is reported on the MIT website. I’ve seen that change myself, many times over the years, and most recently locally. The study adds intelligence on the neurology of how such group activity changed people. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Manners, bloody manners

I was in a local grocery store not long ago, standing mid-aisle and peering at shelves of canned products, trying to find the ones I wanted for my cart. As I reached out to snag a can in front of me, a cart appeared between me and the display. To my right, a woman – talking […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Sunny with a chance of squirrels

What is going on in that furry little head of yours? I was standing on the porch one day last fall watching Bella, our terrier-cross dog, and latest addition to the Chadwick pack. She was watching Diego, our ginger tom cat who was watching something in the trees. Bella stared, then turned to look where […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Litter, litter, everywhere

Pop cans. Coffee cups. Candy bar wrappers. Fast food wrappers. Cigarette packages. Cigarette butts. Dog feces. Bags of dog feces. Flyers. Cellophane package wrap. Water bottles. Juice bottles. Chip bags. Beer cans and bottles. Disposable lighters and pens. Cardboard beer boxes. Discarded newspapers and junk mail. Plastic grocery bags. I just don’t get littering. I’ve […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Conspiracy Theories: 2014 Update

It’s time to update a piece I wrote in December, 2012, outlining the secret deals, backroom negotiations and “barbecue politics” that our council has been involved in since that date, more than a year ago. So here comes the update, the emperor without his clothes: Secret meetings: none Backroom negotiations: none Barbecue deals: none Sorry, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Time to get serious with distracted drivers

In March, the fine for being caught texting, talking on your cell phone, or tinkering with your MP3 player while driving will jump from $155 to $280 in Ontario. That’s better, but not good enough. Distracted drivers are a growing threat to everyone sharing the road – other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. We are all […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: To err is human. And bureaucratic.

Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum, et tertium non datur. To err is human; to persevere in error is diabolical; there is no third option. Bit of a tough love phrase, that one. Most of us know this as the later paraphrase of Alexander Pope: to err is humane, to forgive divine. Yes, he wrote “humane” […]