The Mounties and the English language.
I’ve never been a fan of Brenda Lucki, the Commissioner of the RCMP who decided to retire next month. Far from being an empathic female leader, she struck me as more of an old-fashioned, command-and-control leader who had a great deafness to politics and people.
But maybe the Mounties’ current state of disrepair is not just about leadership, but language. George Orwell’s famous essay, Politics and the English Language comes to mind when I read that, instead of abandoning a controversial neck restraint, the Mounties issued new guidance in November that "strengthens and clarifies definitions, oversight and accountability measures, the risks of applying the technique on medically high-risk groups, requirements for medical attention, the threshold for use and requirement to recertify annually on the policy regarding application."
1. Where are the killer earthquakes? This chart shows another reason it’s good (or at least safe) to live in southern Ontario.
2. “Pro-gun lawyer shot with own weapon by MRI scanner dies.” I didn’t understand that headline either. But once you read the story, you’ll get just on how many levels it pays not to bring your gun to the hospital. As one friend suggested, he could win a Darwin Award.
3. Twice as many 40-plus women as teenagers are having babies. At least in Britain, and likely in Canada. The tipping point was in 2016 when more 40-plus women than teens had babies. The last time this happened was in 1947, sparking the baby boom after World War II.
4. How to live longer? Eat like the Japanese and try to avoid being abused. Childhood abuse plays a huge role not just in living an unhappy life, but a shorter one as well. As does what you eat. Like compound interest, they work quietly in the background, creating huge differences in how well and how long your life can be.
And speaking of long lives, you can still catch this film about centenarians by Susan Papp from the Ageless Film Festival.
5. The end of the McLuhan Centre. In many ways, Marshall McLuhan is still the University of Toronto’s most enduringly ‘famous’ figure. So it’s sad that the U of T has cut ties with a man who first defined what technology does to us – back in the 1960s.
6. “You can cheat on a paper. You can cheat on an exam. You can’t cheat on a disease.” One reason the acceleration of Alzheimer’s is so terrifying is that its cure seems so very far away. Scarier still is to learn that the reigning theory of what caused the disease – beta-amyloids -- was based in part on fabricated research.
7. Big names voice great series. One of the top science fiction podcasts in the world also happens to have some of the world’s top actors. Spark Hunter is about an advanced robotic AI who’s having an existential crisis. She needs to meet with her Maker to iron out her existential issues over dinner. In the cast are Mark Rylance, Kathleen Turner, Sting, Vanessa Redgrave and many more.
8. Some people are lucky, then there are these people. A compilation of luck. But no one’s luckier than these two pilots who walked away when their Boeing 737 crashed in Australia this month.
9. How America took out the Nord Stream pipeline. Seymour Hersh is the world’s most lauded investigative reporter. Here’s his latest, on how America blew up Russia’s Nord Stream underwater pipeline, which cuts off its oil from Europe, and thus its power to hold Europe hostage. Hersh is now 85 and even some of his fans are skeptics on Nord Stream. But he hasn’t lost his skill at shaping a great story.
10. You’re gay? You can’t sing here. The King’s Singers is a renowned a cappella group who performed in Montreal on Valentine’s Day and at Koerner Hall on February 16. But their performance in Florida on February 11 was cancelled because the venue, Pensacola Christian College, where the King’s Singers have performed before, discovered that one of the singers is gay and “The college cannot knowingly give an implied or direct endorsement of anything that violates Holy Scripture…”
On a happier note, here are the very best ballads of Burt Bacharach who died on February 8 at 94.