Whereas astrology is a load of complete dingos’ kidneys which makes no sense in terms of the empirically established laws of astrophysics; and

Whereas double blind tests have repeatedly shown that most people will automatically identify with generalized descriptions of their own star sign, regardless of whether or not it was written based on ‘legitimate’ astrological techniques; and

Whereas a person should always be aware of, and strain to rein-in their own cognitive biases;

I must reluctantly admit that…

I am such a Gemini.

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One Life-goal Down

So I am pleased to announce that I am now a published author*. My story , “The Birds of Ecthalion,” can be read online here.

They even commissioned an original piece of artwork for it from artist Shannon Legler!


*Of fiction. I have already been a published author of scientific papers for some time. Still, it’s nice to know that I will always be able to list the Mad Scientist Journal next to Physics Review D on my curriculum vitae.

Posted in Fiction, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Board Game Secrets

Everyone knows about the secret passages at the corners of the Clue board, but only tenth-level Clue-Masters know about the catacomb beneath the ballroom. There might you find, stacked like firewood, the stabbed, shot, bludgeoned, or strangled bodies of generations of Boddys, dating back to before Humans walked upright.

Reduced to refugees in their own country, the Natives of Catan dream of the day upon which the Earth will open up and swallow the Settlers, together with their roads and cities. They know in their hearts that upon that day, the old ways will be restored and everything will be as it was before.

There’s a phantom hotel in Monopoly. It appears, on average, in one out of every 200,000 games, on a random property, and only for a turn or two. The price of landing on a property with the phantom hotel cannot be paid in mere money. Once you have paid this price, whatever it may be, you may yet go on to win the game, but you will no longer be able to derive satisfaction from material gain.

One day, soldiers on the opposing sides in Risk will realize that they have far more in common with each other than they do with any of their generals. When that moment of class consciousness comes, they will turn on their bourgeois masters, and join forces to paint the world red.

There’s a little pink lady in the Game of Life who lies awake at night, haunted by the knowledge that no matter how many Bohemian flourishes she affects when decorating her suburban home, she will never be anything more than a sell-out. Her little blue husband snoring beside her, she quietly regrets not running off with her friend Deirdre when she was in college. A single perfect tear slides down her plastic face.

The prototype of Snakes and Ladders included an Ouroboros snake. During testing, one of the players managed to land on the Ouroboros (though they still haven’t figured out quite how). He has been circling about ever since.

Errant torpedoes in Battleship may explode amid the Deep. The mariners aboard your ships all pray that the blasts do not awaken that which slumbers down there.

You can pawn a king when playing Chess. You don’t even have to walk it all of the way to the end of the board. All that you need to do is to wait until the burden of kingship becomes too much to bear. Then the king can cast off his heavy crown, shrug off his magnificent golden brocade, and become as small and as faceless as the common rabble. His ministers, loyal to the end, will see him off as he slips out of his palace late at night, and then declare the king to be dead. He isn’t though; he’s just become one of us. No king in the history of Chess has ever chosen to do this.

Posted in boardgames, fantasy, Fiction, prose poetry, weird, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Fighting Back

It’s been a long time coming, but it still managed to take me by surprise: the union that represents the scientists working for the federal government has finally ditched its official position of political neutrality, and is vowing to “take all necessary action to ensure that Canadians are aware of what is at stake in federal public service collective bargaining and in the upcoming federal election in 2015”. Apparently, government scientists have finally gotten sick of being transformed into the lobotomized shoe-shine boys of the tar sands industry, and as you have probably inferred, I am 100% behind them. I’m looking forward to seeing how this story progresses.

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Apparently Economics is Really Easy

Pictured: The Governor of the Bank of Canada trying to find his ass with both hands.

Pictured: The Governor of the Bank of Canada trying to find his ass with both hands.

Young Canadians who are facing long-term underemployment (your humble scribe included) will be pleased to learn that Mr. Stephen Poloz has some advice for us:

“When I bump into youths, they ask me, you know, ‘What am I supposed to do in a situation?’ I say, look, having something unpaid on your CV is very worth it because that’s the one thing you can do to counteract this scarring effect. Get some real-life experience even though you’re discouraged, even if it’s for free,” Mr. Poloz told reporters Monday in Ottawa.”

What a coincidence: my father gave me the same advice a few months ago.

Of course, my father, unlike Stephen Poloz, is not the Governor of the Bank of Canada, but I suppose that it’s too much to expect that the person whose four-hundred-and-thirty-thousand-dollar-a-year job it is to oversee the economy would offer unemployed people something beyond paternal advice. I mean, it’s not like he’s in a position to put a dent in the unemployment rate or anything like that. 

He was also a bit mum about a few minor details, such as, for example, what young Canadians are supposed to eat and where they are supposed to sleep while we’re giving our labour away for free over an indefinite period, but I’m sure that he, having a degree in economics, must have some suggestions. Perhaps the Toronto Dominion Bank will generously volunteer to forgive my tuition debts.

Now, this statement isn’t exactly “Let them eat cake” in terms of pithiness, but it’s coming close in terms of sentiment. But what really gets my gall up is the fact that Stephen Poloz, Canada’s top economist, apparently doesn’t even understand basic economics. So what, however many million under- and unemployed Canadians are supposed to start giving their work away for free all at the same time? And this is going to get us all jobs, rather than, for example, driving the unemployment rate up even further since there are apparently millions of people who are willing to work without being paid for it?

Is economics even a real intellectual discipline, or do they just give you degrees and cushy jobs for saying what those in power want to hear? Is there some way I can get in on this scam? Work isn’t working.

Posted in bullshit, Employment, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who Owns the Future?

I attended my friend’s wedding in Toronto this weekend, which means that I have spent a significantly larger percentage of the last three days sitting in various airports than I would care to admit. And if you have been through airports in Canada recently, you have probably seen some of those HSBC “In the Future…” advertisements on the walls. Now, I have been seeing these advertisements for several months or years, and never thought that deeply about them; but it just so happened that yesterday I was reading Margaret Atwood’s novel MaddAddam on the plane, and I just couldn’t help but notice how creepy and frankly dystopian a lot of these advertisements actually are.

Here are some samples (captions mine):

In the future, nature will be a thing of the past.

In the future, nature will be a thing of the past.

In the future, education will exist only as a handmaiden of corporate  capitalism.

In the future, education will exist only as a handmaiden of corporate capitalism.


I believe that this is known as the “Grey Goo apocalypse,” actually.

Who the hell is this supposed to appeal to, exactly?

Who the hell is this supposed to appeal to, exactly?

Now, those of you who have read the MaddAddam trilogy will get where I’m coming from. But apparently one person’s hellish dystopia is another person’s fondest wish. Especially if that “person” is a corporate person like HSBC.

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Wise Words From An Old Friend

Arguing with ignorance is like playing chess with a pigeon. You could be the world’s best chess player, but the pigeon is still going to knock all the pieces over, shit on the board, and dance around triumphantly.

I don’t know how true this is of ignorance in general, but it’s certainly a fair description of arguing with proud, willful, immovable ignorance.

Posted in Personal Stuff | Tagged , | 1 Comment