Category Archives: politics

How Do We Measure Poverty?


A recent Angus Reid study, reported widely in the news, showed that many Canadians are experiencing financial stress. A large proportion report needing to borrow money to buy groceries, eschewing dental care, and are experiencing hardship in ten other money-related scenarios presented to them. While sadly no one is shocked that a substantial fraction of Canadians is struggling financially, what is surprising is that the study’s estimate of that fraction is considerably higher than the official governmental numbers. The study found that about 16% of the population is “struggling”, while a further 11% is “on the edge” (i.e., at risk of struggling). This gives a total of 27% who are in some sort of financial jeopardy. Whereas, according to the official estimate, 4.8 million Canadians  (about 14%) live beneath the line of indigence. Continue reading How Do We Measure Poverty?

A Tale of Two Fallacies: the Insanity of Progressive Stacking

As I write this (on a plane en route from Cuba to Toronto), I’m thinking in an undisciplined manner about some recent developments in public intelligentsia.  I’m not quite sure how best to describe what I’m calling something of an “academic rift”, as its nature is only dimly formed in my frontal lobe. But it has something to do with the value of evidence and the extent to which we are willing and able to allow evidence (or what passes for evidence) to dictate our view of social and physical reality. Even as I write those words, I am aware that there will be disagreements about what constitutes “evidence”, and a full appreciation that almost nothing exists in an objective vacuum, immune from the infection of personal bias and value. Continue reading A Tale of Two Fallacies: the Insanity of Progressive Stacking

On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies

March 14 every year is a special day for me. In North America, it’s “pi day” (3.13…. 3/14… get it?) I was going to celebrate with some actual pie, but my fasting blood sugar levels suggested that that’s not the wisest move, so I reneged.

Today, it’s also a sad day, due to the passing of Dr Stephen Hawking.  When I was a young physics student, Hawking fascinated me (as he did everyone else) for so many reasons. His debilitating disease gave him an air of specialness that, thankfully, was well correlated with his intellectual heft. Continue reading On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies