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Have you heard? Jenny McCarthy says she’s not against vaccinations after all. This, of course, comes as a relief, because otherwise a reasonable person could conclude she’s spent years peddling nonsense at a real human cost, as children die from easily preventable infections that medical science gave us the tools to beat decades ago.

Oh, wait—McCarthy actually does have a long record of peddling nonsense, and there has been a terrible human cost, it’s just that she’s now just being deeply dishonest about her easily verifiable record. If McCarthy hasn’t ever literally said, “Mothers, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t get your kids vaccinated,” she’s done everything but, telling parents the choice is between measles and autism. Sure, the science may not even remotely support that assertion, but who cares?

The forces of reaction—of which McCarthy is a prominent but mercifully dim example—don’t simply come out and oppose something these days. If it were just McCarthy, we might still have a public health problem, but it would be a manageable one. Unfortunately, it’s not just her.

Who was tougher on corporate America as president, George W. Bush or Barack Obama? The answer may surprise you! Unless you watched this Matt Taibbi interview, in which case you would know it was (at least in his opinion) George W. Bush. Then you might be less surprised.

Shoe truthers.

Claire Battershill is a Canadian-born author now living in London, England. In 2008, she won the CBC Literary Award for Short Fiction for her story “Circus,” which is also the title of her recently published collection of short stories;...

To hear movie stars speak of one another is usually boring—until they inadvertently let something interesting slip. So a while ago, when Bollywood’s Ranveer Singh suggested co-star Anushka Sharma had the industry’s best body—and it was because she worked for it—it caught my attention.

In part, it’s because he had something resembling a point. To be clear, I have definitely never watched this bikini scenefeaturing Sharma more than once and then felt wretched for being the world’s worst feminist ally. I’m just saying that, if you are going to lay down an arbitrary, misogynistic standard of beauty, Sharma happens to live up to the current one.

Why, though, was the effort expended to realize the ideal so important? Singh’s comments, after all, seem to praise the process as much the “result”—that the noble triumvirate of being fit is to “eat right, sleep right, and train hard.” Recently, an answer came in the form of a study about stomach surgeries as a treatment for obesity. Scientists have found that, rather than simply reducing the size of the stomach, getting laproscopic surgery actually changes the composition of both gut bacteria and bile, and it is actually that which is responsible for sustained weight loss and fighting diabetes.

Not to downplay the hole that the loss of hockey is leaving in the ranks of CBC employees, nor the significant programming gap it will have to fill when Rogers fully takes over Hockey Night in Canada in a few years, but the biggest lack that no pucks will leave on our national broadcaster is probably in its ethos. For better or worse, hockey is one of the few national myths that almost everyone—or at least enough people to drown out any complaints—can agree on. If it is a significant role of any national broadcaster to help in some way define its country, the CBC’s task gets infinitely harder when it can’t just turn its entire Saturday night and most of the spring to the Maple Leafs, Sidney Crosby, and the Stanley Cup.

It’s definitely not made any easier by the fact that, even with hockey, its English-language television programming—which is, again, for better or worse, effectively what a lot of people think of when they think of the CBC, or certainly at least complain about it—is in something of a doldrums.

A new Jason Molina tribute album is streaming at NPR, and it is a lovely thing.

“An earlier version of this story said that the methane emissions associated with livestock come from their farts. In fact, most of those methane emissions come from belches.”

In the summer of 2013, one of the wunderkind companies of the 2008 green energy euphoria went belly-up. Better Place, formerly Project Better Place, was an effort by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi to revolutionize the concept of electric cars by, essentially, taking the part of the consumer experience everyone hates about the mobile phone provider (selling people a barely subsidized piece of consumer electronics for the dubious privilege of being locked into a multi-year contract) and combining it with the second-largest purchase most households make.

To his credit, Agassi was legitimately trying to think about the problem of accelerating the adoption of electric cars in a new way. To his discredit, that seems to be about the only nice thing anyone has left to say about him. Fast Company has a pretty clinical post-mortem of Better Place, and it’s kind of a buffet of vignettes of what happens when a firehose of money gets pointed at people who don’t have the skills to know what to do with it, or even the skill to recognize what they don’t know. (The point where Agassi divorces his wife and starts bringing his new girlfriend to meetings is a particular nice touch.)

New John Jeremiah Sullivan alert, y’all: in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine, “on the trail of the phantom women who changed American music and then vanished without a trace.”

If Jesus were alive today and hanging out in upscale neighbourhoods, people would probably call the cops on him.

“This really isn’t a book to celebrate, is it?” At the National PostMark Medley talks to Miriam Toews about her new bookAll My Puny Sorrows, and the painful place from which it came.

The Expendables 3 will conclude that trilogy where aging male action stars creak their way towards enormous guns this August, and last week both a trailer and 16 character posters appeared online. Amongst the latter, next to Sylvester Stallone’s usual team of unusually heroic mercenaries, there was an improbable Kelsey Grammer, hands jammed in his fishing vest like his nearest Florida casino had just booked Steely Dan. But only Hazlitt exclusively received a leaked Expendables 3 screenplay, and we’re excerpting it below.

David Quarmby probably didn’t realize he was stepping on a political landmine. Quarmby is the architect of London’s transit planner and operator, Transit for London, and he thought it sounded reasonable to suggest earlier this week that Toronto’s bus, streetcar, and subway operator should be folded into a regional operator. The problem is, this is very much a live issue in Toronto, with all sorts of people proposing that various individuals or bodies be given authority over transit planning instead of the people currently doing it.

Now, Quarmby’s not a crazy person: plenty of cities have transit services that cross city lines, and naturally enough have to be planned to take into account the needs of different parts of the metro area. But Toronto’s recent (and not-so-recent) history makes this a fraught question.

John Joseph of the Cro-Mags has some juicing tips for you (among them, “diets are for jerkoffs”). 

Stephen Colbert will be taking over from Letterman on the Late Show, but if you haven’t seen him on Strangers With Candyconsider that your homework for this weekend.

Also he sings a lot, so you have that to look forward to.

“We don’t fall in love with live basketball, at least not at first, because of beautiful down screens or crisp defensive rotations or true shooting percentages. It’s the atmosphere that does it, the feeling of being gathered into something bigger and stronger than oneself. It’s something I almost can’t even see anymore, except through her.” Steve McPherson takes his daughter to her first NBA game.

In the early 2000s, Dan Pallotta was the head of a humming 300-employee business working out a 47,000-square-foot office in Los Angeles. The company produced charity events—“AIDS Rides” and “Breast Cancer 3-Days” that Pallotta invented and marketed, raising $305...

 
For more than 30 years the Shortwave radio spectrum has been used by the worlds intelligence agencies to transmit secret messages. These messages are transmitted by hundreds of Numbers Stations.” And now you can hear them
 

When a recent survey asked more than two thousand Americans to locate Ukraine on a map, some 60 or so (by my count) placed the former Soviet-ruled country that’s been in the headlines a bit lately… in Canada. A bunch of others chose Greenland. A few, improbably, chose Alaska.

The lamentable state of American geographical knowledge is an old story, but then, geopolitical affairs are supposed to be how Americans get better at this stuff. The good news is young Americans (the ones whose brains are supposed to have been rotted with all the rap music and the iPhones and whatnot) provided a correct answer almost twice as often as the demographic who no longer want to be called “senior citizens.” The bad news is they still only got it right 27 percent of the time.

The more alarming fact, in that survey, is that the worse people’s knowledge of the actual geography of Ukraine was, the more likely they were to support an armed response. In other words, we have a direct correlation here between being objectively wrong and supporting a military intervention somewhere in the world.

Change your passwords now.

“Empathy means realizing no trauma has discrete edges. Trauma bleeds. Out of wounds and across boundaries. Sadness becomes a seizure. Empathy demands another kind of porousness in response. My Stephanie script is 12 pages long. I think mainly about what it doesn’t say.” In The Atlantic, an adapted excerpt from Leslie Jamison’s new book of essays, The Empathy Exams.

“Race matters for reasons far beyond the fact that it is another battleground for partisan combat.” Jamelle Bouie weighs in on the Ta-Nehisi CoatesJonathan Chait back-and-forth.

Would Aristotle be good at Twitter? This has been on my mind lately. As the latest round of acrimonious social media debates have popped up in the form of “Cancel Colbert and the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, people have again taken to arguing vociferously on Twitter, doing their darnedest to convince others of their rightness. So I wonder, would the person who tried to set out in Rhetoric how persuasion works be good at arguing with people in 140-character snippets?

The accepted wisdom is that those who are good at argumentation in other venues are also good at it on Twitter. A lot of the time, that seems quite true: it’s why writers, essayists, and annoying pedants have taken to the service so happily. But as I watch the kinds of people who seem forced to endure arguments with others—namely, women, people of colour, and other activists—I get the sense that the rules of rhetoric laid down by folk like Aristotle are especially unsuited to Twitter. More interestingly, though, maybe watching people on Twitter invent new rhetorical tactics suggests that what’s wrong with online discourse isn’t that it is hampered by constraint, but that there isn’t enough of it.

Sean Michaels is a Scotland-born, Ottawa-raised, and Montreal-based writer. He’s the founder of Said the Gramophone, a daily sampler of “really good songs,” and one of the very first mp3 blogs. His work has appeared in the Guardian...

Near the end of 2013’s The Unknown KnownErrol Morris’s 90-minute exercise in vexation with Donald Rumsfeld, the Oscar-winning documentarian asks the former secretary of defense the simplest question of the film: “Why are you doing this?” In what might be the closest thing to a straight answer Rumsfeld gives, he smirks a mildly frustrated smirk—at this point in the movie, Rumsfeld has flashed grins so fulsome and relentless that you can start picking out their subtle flavours, like a bullshit sommelier—and says, “Oh, that’s a vicious question. I don’t know.”

It’s certainly possible that’s true: the movie is nothing if not a portrait of a man who is, at least publicly, resolutely incapable of self-examination. Watching him, though, it’s patently evident that Rumsfeld loves the game, loves to skip and jump and swing through an interrogator’s questions, hanging on phrasings and wading through minutiae. The game is probably that much more fun for Rumsfeld because he is always convinced he’s winning.

Having finally, belatedly picked up Paul Wells’ The Longer I’m Prime Minister, the Maclean’s columnist’s book about Prime Minister Stephen Harper in power, I was reminded in the early chapters about just how weird 2006 was, as years in Canadian politics go. The whimpering end of Paul Martin’s political career, the early months of Stephen Harper not being nearly as world-endingly terrible as the Liberals tried to convince us he’d be, and Stéphane Dion’s unlikely Liberal leadership win in Montreal that December. Then, in the middle of all that, was the Quebec as a Nation motion.

For those who don’t recall, during the Liberal leadership race Michael Ignatieff had mused (Ignatieff rarely went so far as to actually propose anything) about amending the constitution to recognize Quebec as a “nation within Canada.” Only a few years later Ignatieff would run away from that idea, but whatever. The objective was to try to get Quebec’s signature to the constitution, something we’ll get back to.

Ignatieff’s unhelpful musings prompted the Bloc Quebecois (remember them?) to present a motion calling for the House of Commons to do what Ignatieff had called for, prompting a then-still-new Prime Minister Harper to present a motion that recognized “the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.”

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