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One week into the New Year and…

Well, it’s always darkest before the dawn, even if it takes the sun three years to rise.

“Cold and closed” sums up things nicely right now. But at least the pandemic isn’t spreading with the speed of Omicron and the lethality of Delta. My view is, let’s hunker down for a few weeks more, and get in line for the fourth vaccine, and another one every year from now on. Meanwhile, read on…

1. The richest women in the world. As with most people (CEOs, doctors-and-lawyers-with-real power, etc.) women rank far behind men in terms of wealth. Of the world’s 2,755 billionaires, women make up just 12%. The richest woman in the world, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family own a third of L’Oréal , while the second richest, Alice Walton, owns 50% of Walmart along with her brothers. No Canadian women made the list of the richest women.

2. I am a heroin user. Dr. Carl Hart is a neuroscientist and Ziff Professor of Psychology at Columbia University. He also uses heroin, claiming he doesn’t have a drug problem. Here’s the essay he wrote last year that claimed science itself is an outsized demonizer of ‘reasonable use’ of drugs.

Speaking of drugs, here’s why there are so few breakthrough pharmaceuticals (COVID-vaccine excepted, of course). It’s all about thinking too small.

3. Behind every iconic image is an unhappy dog.

4. Which court counts most? She may not be doing well in the court of public opinion, but Meghan Markle,  the Duchess of Sussex, is winning spectacularly in the court of law. Last year she sued and won a judgement against The Daily Mail for publishing a private letter she wrote to her father. Then last month, she won another judgement from a British Court in the same case.

5. Not a bunch of upper-class twits. This year’s incoming class of Rhodes Scholars sure doesn’t look male, pale and stale. If anything, of the 12 new Canadian Rhodes Scholars, seven are women and six are white. The Ontario Rhodes Scholar this year is Maya Burhanpurkar.

6. I refuse to put on winter tires because…It’s my car, my choice, my freedom. Besides, the effectiveness of winter tires is not proven, except by studies done by the manufacturers. What’s more, my neighbor, Rae, had an accident even after putting on winter tires. In fact, some drivers are already on their third set of snow tires, which proves their ineffectiveness. We do not know what the tires are made of. The tire manufacturers scare us with winter just to enrich themselves. Last night  I read on the internet that the tire giants invented snow and spread it at night when you sleep. Finally, if I have winter tires, the government can track me in the snow. So please, educate yourself, open your eyes, stop being sheep.

7. Joan Didion lives on. The acerbic essayist who died last month has been eulogized to, well, to death. But here are two lively tributes to her life and writing: one, an essay she wrote about Woody Allen’s Manhattan in 1979; and the other, a Netflix biopic by her nephew about his aunt that’s well worth absorbing.

8. The Cognitive Bias Codex. We’re all guilty of faulty thinking. But it seems there are hundreds of ways we think that can get us in trouble (in the name of the very opposite, of course). Here they all are.

9. Our regenerating, self-medicating cousins. It seems that salamander-like Newts can regenerate missing legs and tails. And chimpanzees are even better self-medicators than we are. Medicine is turning its gaze to both.

10. Dire Straits, meet Sven Otten. One is a German dancer.

Forbidden Words: The words you may no longer use in polite company this week are hysterical and weirdo, among others.

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