woman lightbulb

Women still don’t hold up half the sky.

It’s hard to write calmly about a country that poisons 1,000 schoolgirls because they’re girls and want to cut their hair. But that’s what Iran did last month. No sympathy either for Afghanistan which forbids girls from going to school beyond Grade 6.

We live in a different world here in the land of the .00000001 per cent, which may insulate us from thinking about how awful life is far away.

Here, women are not only rising; men are falling. It seems North America is no longer bringing up enough economically or emotionally-viable men.

In Britain, its biggest companies have met the goal of 40% women on boards three years ahead of the December 2025 target date. Yet while lots of women are joining boards, few have punched through to the CEO-suite, which means plenty are leaving. Call it Unquiet Quitting.


1. Words with no English equivalent. My favourite is the Hawaiian “akihi” which means “Listening to directions and then promptly walking off and forgetting them.” Here’s more.

2. The worst year in human history. Even today’s perma-crises have nothing on the Year 536 when sword, famine, pestilence, and beasts were only the start.

3. My Year of Dicks. This is the title of a Short Animated Film nominated for an Oscar (we’ll learn its fate Sunday night) where a 15-year-old is determined to lose her virginity despite the slim pickings in Houston in the early 90s.

Let’s hope director Sara Gunnarsdóttir is reading How to win an Oscar.

4. “Honey, am I fat?” If your beloved asks this in 2035, odds are the truth will be “yes” because half the world’s people by then will either be overweight or obese. This was one of many disturbing conclusions from the World Obesity Atlas 2023. Childhood obesity, already boiling over, could double for boys within the next 12 years, and rise by 125% among girls, leaving 400 million overweight kids to cope with all the health, social, and developmental problems that being fat creates.

5. Mussel beach. Don’t be fooled by the ultra-clear waters of Georgian Bay. It’s not a sign of purity, but of death, because “over the past 20 years, quadrillions of invasive mussels have been sucking the life out of the Great Lakes,” as this short film makes all too clear. It’s supported by the Trebek Initiative, a new granting group formed by the National Geographic Society and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

6. Fake news isn’t new. Remember the tulip mania in Holland back in 1637? Economist Tim Harford claims it was fake. Perhaps he should write about today’s top tulip touter, Rupert Murdoch, who confessed that Fox News’ executives thought Donald Trump’s claims of winning the 2020 US election were fake, and who appears to be still afraid of him.

7. How to have a really good bath. GQ Magazine offers 8 tips, including having a shower first. This brings up the issue of whether you’re a bath person or a shower person, the way you’re a cat person or a dog person. It seems Canadians prefer bathing to showering by 3 to 1. Frankly, I haven’t had a bath in years.

8. The discovery of stem cells. Many of us think they were discovered by Toronto scientists Ernest McCulloch and James Till, and they were, albeit accidentally, in 1963 at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. But there’s a whole other dimension — the Atom bomb at Hiroshima –to this story that lit the way to regenerative medicine, from Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee in The Song of the Cell, published last year.

9. Ageism is ‘the last acceptable bias.’ But now that so many boomers are living long enough to be discriminated against, ageism may be…well, one can only hope. Here’s an arrow in the quiver of that battle, a 43-minute documentary, Golden: The End of Ageism.

10. Conductors named ‘Gustavo’ are having a moment. First, Gustavo Gimeno, the dashing new Spanish conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Also the Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel  “the most famous conductor in the world.” In 2026 he will move from leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the New York Philharmonic. One reason is the sound and feel of the new Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, designed by Toronto architects Diamond Schmitt. Here’s Dudamel speaking  to the musicians of the New York Phil.


Curious about psychedelics?


If anyone knows about the promise and perils of psychedelics, it’s the renowned author and anthropologist Wade Davis.

In 1996, he wrote One River, the story of the riches of the Amazon rainforest and the extraordinary plants whose effects range from medicinal, to magical, to marginal. But his work with these plants began in 1974 and continued with constant fieldwork in the Amazon and Andes for 8 years.

Since then, he has gone on to become one of the world’s authorities on the deep connection between people and plants; and how psychedelics are enjoying a resurgence as a treatment for many mental maladies.

So what better time than now to have this daring and original thinker talk about the psychedelic journey, past, present and future?

Please join us to hear Wade Davis.

Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Time: 6:45 to 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 6:15 p.m.)

Place: The Albany Club, 91 King Street East

Tickets: $60 + HST includes your softcover copy of One River


If you are interested in spending more time with Wade Davis, join him on Retreat at Dimensions Algonquin Highlands May 18-22. Find out more here.

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