factchecking large

Fast-Checking. Fact-Checking.

It’s easy to be breezy with the facts, especially now when, as Tom Hanks said: ”Truth is no longer empirical…no longer based on data or common sense or even common decency.”

But the thousands who read this blog aren’t breezy.  They’re  intransigent truthers. Even when I write something we all take for true, a hawk-eyed friend will not only note that it’s not, but correct me in no uncertain terms. In doing this, they open a world of expertise and passion that I’m barely aware of. What could be better than that?

Two examples from last week illustrate what I mean. I wrote that the Navy Seals “are the most elite fighting force in the world.” Not true. Nowhere near true, as Major Dan O’Connor  (Ret’d) of the US Marines and the former head of the Marine Corps SWAT Squad, wrote to correct me.

The order of eliteness is this: Delta Force, Task Force Orange, DEVGRU (which includes Seal Team Six who killed Osama Bin Laden), Rangers’ Regimental Reconnaissance Company, Air Force Special Tactics SquadronNavy Seals, Green Berets,  160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and MARSOC. When I said that they all look very American, he replied: “You should see Canada’s! Joint Task Force 2 works alongside many of our special ops units as well as the British SAS.”

I also referred to “both of today’s existential crises.” I meant climate change and AI. Then New York podcast producer Ken Miller wrote to say: “Here’s the way we have been thinking about existential crises for the future of our Spark Hunter characters:

  1. Climate change
  2. The downside of smart machines
  3. Dissolution of democracy
  4. Final ascendency of violent tribalism
  5. Worldwide pandemic
  6. Nuclear holocaust

Any one of these crises could lead to a fundamental reframing of life for humanity. And they are all very much front of mind for young people unequipped to face one threat, never mind six.”

I keep forgetting that change will never be as slow as it is right now.


1. A very hot love story. French scientists Katia and Maurice Krafft died as explosively as they lived. Speaking of explosive, check out this from Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour.

2. The ultimate clubs. In terms of the power to shape society, the most hard-won credential in the legal world is that of a US Supreme Court Justice. There are 9 of them (and 9 in Canada and 12 in Britain). A close second is clerking for a justice. In America, there are 36, in Canada, 27, and in Britain, 11. As this article reveals, a bounty of opportunities awaits any clerk of every Supreme Court.

But clubbiness exists everywhere, and one way to enforce it is via language, especially with acronyms, from PMO to MAiD, LAX to YYZ. Last week, Britain’s largest police force, the London Met, released its list of 2,000 abbreviations, ranging from ABD (Acute Behavioural Disorder) to ABH (Actual Bodily Harm). 

3. Two more beliefs bite the dust. One, that life exists to make the most of it, because apparently optimization is a trap. So too does meritocracy have a dark side.

4. Couples therapy isn’t what it used to be. It’s bigger. The same with smoking, or rather the fight against smoking.

Canada is already the world leader in anti-smoking measures. As of August, the cancer warnings won’t just  appear on each pack, but on every cigarette – with six different warnings.

Here’s where people smoke the most and least: Nauru 52%…and Ghana 3.7%. It’s 17.5% in Canada.

5. Cheese rolling. It’s a sport that Canadians are champs at. Delaney Irving, 19, of Nanaimo, took home the 3-kilogram wheel of Double Gloucester cheese after being knocked unconscious and winning the race.

6. Women aren’t men. Toronto has the busiest public library system, the best children’s hospital and it’s now bigger than both Chicago and Paris. It also has Verity, the only women’s club of its kind in the world. Founded by investment banker Mary Aitken in 2003, Verity last week celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Meanwhile, some men’s clubs are still in the 19th century.

7. “Staggering” weight loss. This is not the National Enquirer. We don’t make unverified medical claims. That said, this news from Medscape about a study out of Dublin reporting up to 63% of participants achieving a reduction in body weight of at least 20% seems credible – and incredible at the same time. Worth tracking.

8. A logjam the size of Manhattan. It’s in the Mackenzie Delta in Canada’s Arctic, and it’s storing 3.1 million metric tons of carbon. Some trees date back to the seventh century. Said one scientist: “The Arctic’s cold, often dry or icy conditions mean trees can be preserved for tens of thousands of years. A tree that fell a thousand years ago might look just as fresh as one that fell last winter.”

9. Big questions. What are Europe’s most overcrowded cities? How big is Africa? Why are we so happy in the sun? What’s the link between physical and moral disgust? And, Do facts change minds?

10. Great tune. Even better backup. In 1987, Roy Orbison performed Oh, Pretty Woman. His backup group includes Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, James Burton, Tom Waits, k.d. lang, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, T Bone Burnett and Jennifer Warnes.

11. What I’m liking. Road to Surrender, by Evan Thomas, how America decided to use nuclear weapons against Japan. Both sides were crippled by bad information, misread gestures and striving careerists. This seems to be atom bomb season. Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, starring Tom Hanks and Scarlett Johansson, opens on June 16, and Oppenheimer, the biopic about ‘the father of the atomic bomb’, opens on July 23.

And let’s not leave Succession, even though it’s left us. Here are eight fabulous minutes of Tom and Greg being iconic.




Here are the trips RamsayTravels is hosting in the coming months.

Jean and I invite you to come with us on any (and all) of them.

You should join our happy band of gentle adventurers because…..? …..the sights and tastes and lessons and sweet surprises on these trips are exceeded only by your fellow travelers who are doing the same thing.

So, in order of appearance…

October 2-10, 2023 — Bicycling and the Kardamyli Literary Festival in Greece.

February 25 – March 9, 2024 — Lindblad Expedition to the South Pacific.

May 29 – June 5, 2024 — Northern Italy under Sail, aboard the Sea Cloud II.

September 2-9, 2024 — Lindblad Expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest.

Just e-mail Bob Ramsay at bob@ramsayinc.com if you have questions.

Thanks for coming this far with us.

Bob Ramsay


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