The Dog Days of August

We’re in them right now, the hottest, most sultry time of the year. Their name comes from the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star, in the sky at this time of year. But the phrase likely entered our brains when Noel Coward wrote the song “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” in 1931. Why mad? Because they “go out in the midday sun.” Smart man.

Meanwhile, here are ten refreshing tidbits for a cooler head this weekend.

1. Why some of the smartest people are so very stupid. We’re not talking about one knife short of a drawer here. But very sharp people making clueless choices.

2. Growing trees out of other trees. I don’t mean birches out of other birches, but spruce groves out of oaks.  The how and why of silvacultural cross-breeding.

3. The best robot documentary ever. How will robots really work for us? Spend 16 minutes of your future to find out. Lovely. Scary. Behold and be wary.

4. Rocks solid. This 2,000-year-old rock is actually the exploded brain of a Roman cult member shocked solid by searing heat.

5. A very British scandal. The Brits are so good at mashing money, royalty and power. Here’s a delicious new one where a telecom billionaire willingly paid (and eagerly confessed) to practising “access capitalism.”

6. Emergency 911 – A gripping 9-minute documentary on the people who answer when you call for help.

7. Free speech is not all that popular. Here in Canada (and lord knows in America), the right to speak freely is enshrined as one of the great human rights. But not everyone’s a fan.

8. Mark Carney the writer and speaker. He may not be as well known as Mark Carney the banker. But if you want a muscular view of how to change the financial system, I urge you to spend an hour this weekend hearing Carney deliver The Reith Lectures on BBC. Here’s the first Lecture  (July 21) bookended within CBC Ideas.

9. Is medical research fake? When even the mighty British Medical Journal claims that it’s time to assume all medical research is fraudulent until proven otherwise, we know we’re in trouble. Here’s why.

10. The 10 best songs recorded in one take — From The Animals singing The House of the Rising Sun, to Frank Sinatra crooning My Way, and Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. Take one!

Forbidden Words. This week’s word(s) you can’t use in polite company is any bird named after the person who discovered him, or her.

To comment on this post, click here.


To order a copy of my book Love or Die Tryingclick here for Canadian orders, click here for US orders, or visit your favourite bookstore.


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