IPHONOHOLIC

My name’s Bob and I’m an iPhonoholic.

On Tuesday, Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka announced he would make a state visit to China to meet Xi Jinping.

By Thursday, however, that trip was cancelled because the Prime Minister had tripped on the stairs while looking at his phone, concussing him. He appeared on video, in a blood-spattered shirt, to tell his nation the news.

For many years now in Holland, bicyclists have been forbidden from riding their bikes while using their mobile phones because of the large number of accidents they cause. This happens especially with North American visitors who, jet-lagged and on unfamiliar ground, barely make it out of the bike rental shop without mowing down a pedestrian.

In America, at any time throughout the day, 660,000 drivers are trying to text while they drive. One in four car accidents in the US is caused by texting and driving, which means 1.6 million crashes each year.

Worse still, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.

Why is this worse?

Because driving drunk used to be socially acceptable. The same with smoking.  But the number of people who drive drunk and who smoke today are vanishingly small. We all know the tragic effects of doing either: one will kill you instantly, the other, over time.

So why are we blasé about the dangers of driving, biking, and even walking down the street texting on our phones?

One reason is, everyone has one. But ‘everyone’ used to drink and smoke too.  In other words, with 35 million Canadians using mobile phones, the odds of me tripping and falling down the stairs as I use one are somehow much smaller than if only 3.5 million of us had iPhones.

So goes this line of magical thinking, as does the alcoholic’s lament: “I’m not hurting anyone. It’s not costing me anything, and I can quit any time.”

Meanwhile…

1. A kind word goes far. A kind friend goes farther. It seems that doctors being nice can reduce their patients’ pain and that loneliness kills as much as Alzheimer’s. Also, exercise doesn’t necessarily improve cognition, tears are wise. and AI can see many things in CT scans that humans can’t.

2. Like, you know? Do people who pepper their talk with “like” and “ you know” drive you nuts? The bad news is, “like” is on the rise; the good news is, “you know” is just holding steady.

3. How to turn your neighbourhood into a village. Especially timely as Toronto’s neighbourhoods become polarized into rich and poor.

4. Ads on the edge. These are about the price of being female. and this, about taking your money by faking your trust. Your blood flow is the ‘tell’ between real and fake.

5. Just Stop. The Just Stop Oil protesters are crashing everything from Wimbledon tennis to Albert Hall concerts. But they’ve spawned a counter-group, Just Stop Pissing Everyone Off, which spoofed Just Stop Oil on their home ground. Revenge is best served loud.

6. What every kid should be able to do by 16. It’s amazing what you find in a tribute to the life of a 93-year-old woman. And speaking of survival tips, “nothing says ‘I do’ like a small blood sacrifice.”

7. All jobs have their extremes. But I’ll bet you don’t have an extreme job, like they do. Then again, here’s a way to escape forest fire-fighting. Or you could be a bridge-weaver. But try not to be a young man who, according to many experts, aren’t doing well at all.

8. A very big trip. Now, we can fly through the universe, not just through space, but time, from today through less than 400 million years after the Big Bang. And while it was only 100 years ago that humankind realized the Milky Way didn’t encompass the entire universe, it was only this week that the US Congress held a hearing to determine if the Pentagon is hiding evidence of “non-human intelligence.”

9. Annals of architecture. Why New York subways look like they do; why diners look like dining cars on trains; and a counter- narrative to the view that Ontario Place is the devil’s spa.

10. Just how good was Tony Bennett? As good at 95 as he was at 35. But Paul Simon is only 81 and very much alive in this conversation with Malcolm Gladwell on Simon’s latest album, Seven Psalms.

11. What I’m liking. My old (or rather my ‘long-standing’) friend Heather Ferguson who morphed from a non-profit fundraiser to a top-rate nightclub singer. She’ll be singing in Toronto on August 31st with some of Toronto’s top musicians. I’m going for sure and you can too. 

_____________

SAIL DOWN THE ITALIAN COAST NEXT MAY

ON THE SQUARE-RIGGER SEA CLOUD II.

This is not a cruise, but a sail.

All we do is bask in the historic luxury of this unique ship and the tender expertise of Lindblad Expeditions.

So join Jean and me, next year from May 29 to June 5, on the sea from Nice to Amalfi.

For more information, click here.

Bob Ramsay

www.RamsayTravels.com

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