Dip, Dip and Swing

Another Canada Day has passed, eclipsed in my part of the country by the festivities of Aboriginal Day, which falls just a week beforehand. Bizarrely, it was the Google Doodle this year that most roused my patriotic spirit on July first. In the image, a woman kneels up in the bow of a canoe — possibly […]

Debunking Hollywood: Drowning

Debunking Hollywood is LWON’s very occasional series that takes a hard science look at common TV and movie tropes.  “Help!” The lifeguard straightens in his chair, craning his neck to find the citizen in peril. “Help!” Over there, by the barrier floats! The victim’s face is obscured by great splashes raised in her violent struggle for […]

A Leg to Stand On

For all those who suffered through my impossibly obscure quiz questions a fortnight ago, my heartfelt thanks. 120 readers sat the quiz to the end, and the average grade of 44% is no disservice to your knowledge level. There is one question in particular, though, whose most popular response surprises me. A remipede is a […]

Quiz Time

The utterance, “There will be a quiz on this” is notorious for striking panic into a roomful of students, but for me it holds the key to my strongest motivation. I am so much more likely to read a textbook chapter that will be followed by a pat on the back in the form of […]

Lost in the Woods

Somewhere within walking distance of me, there is a dead human body, unburied, in the woods, and it will likely never be found. Psychiatrist Atsumi Yoshikubo arrived in Yellowknife from Uto, Japan last October 17, one of hundreds of tourists who come to see the Northern Lights every year. She checked into our nicest hotel […]

Sam Sells Seashells By the Seashore

There’s a popular myth about Dutch last names that goes like this: When Napoleon occupied the Netherlands and instituted a family name registry, only the upper classes had such names already in use. A significant subset took the opportunity to protest foreign rule by registering under silly names like “Born Naked,” “The Criminal” and “Little […]

The Last Battle

For every year since 1840, life expectancy in the Western world has lengthened by three months. Many more of us can look forward to a full retirement and, in the Commonwealth countries, a letter from the Queen on our 100th birthdays. It’s worth asking, though, whether large-scale longevity is worth pursuing if more than half […]

Holiday Redux: I Can’t Put It Down

LWON is celebrating the holidays by re-running some of our favorite posts. This post originally appeared in July 2012. Alarmist reporting about addictions to sex, to the internet or to exercise can suggest that new syndromes are being invented every day, that human existence is pathologized out of proportion. But some compulsive behaviors that caused […]