Science

CRISPR-Cas9 is a customizable tool that lets scientists cut and insert small pieces of DNA at precise areas along a DNA strand. This lets scientists study our genes in a specific, targeted way.
Credit: Ernesto del Aguila III, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH (Public Domain)

Genetic Scissors: Thoughts on Gene Editing

October 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on the gene-editing tool now known as CRISPR/Cas9. This award has drawn the public’s attention to a technique that has been of interest (and concern) to bioethicists for several years — certainly sinceRead More

Fire in the Valley below at dusk. Photo by Vernon Wolf.

Letter from Bend: No More Denial

September 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm

The fires are still burning here in Oregon. There are eight confirmed dead with almost 5.000 structures lost. Whole towns were substantially destroyed (look up Detroit, Gates, Blue River, Phoenix, Talent). Forty-thousand people were evacuated. This was not an ordinary year and although there was a terrible nexus of conditionsRead More

P.S. 58 - Carroll & Smith Sts. Bklyn. hold a "take cover" drill practice Here youngsters crawl under their desks, 1962, photo by Walter Albertin

Confronting the Actual Existential Threats

May 6, 2020 at 11:34 am

“The unease and fear are appropriate and can be useful, all the more so as the self is liberated from convoluted efforts at falsification and denial.” — Robert Jay Lifton, The Climate Swerve   On February 8, as COVID-19 fast-approached a slow-moving British government, BBC World News aired a discussionRead More

Gardening Tips for Seedy Characters: Soil with a Twist of Lime

Gardening Tips for Seedy Characters: Soil with a Twist of Lime

April 22, 2020 at 9:10 am

Editor’s Note: The Spectator is reaching into Michelle Smith’s gardening column archive for some weekly advice that is as relevant now as when it was first written.   What to do this week This is a great time of year to talk about soil structure. Whatever you have in your backyard, ifRead...

Overview of Detroit Industry, North Wall, 1932-33, fresco by Diego Rivera. Detroit Institute of Arts. 
Diego Rivera

“In Seasons Such as These,” A Word on Socialism

April 15, 2020 at 11:04 am

  “Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ can excuse indifference to individual suffering.” — Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear   “Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides…defend youRead More

Testing, Testing…

Testing, Testing…

March 25, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Sometimes during a pandemic a good place to be is down a rabbit hole — like the one I went down trying to understand how testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 is done and how it’s being handled here in our province. Let’s start with the basics, which youRead More

Emery Barnes Park Playground, Vancouver, during coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by GoToVan from Vancouver, Canada / CC BY SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Preliminary Thoughts on a Pandemic

March 25, 2020 at 1:21 pm

There’s a passage in Emily St. John Mandel’s wonderful (and surprisingly not too depressing) book, Station Eleven, about the world before, during, and after a pandemic which I want to quote at length because it captures better than anything else I know how I am feeling right now. It goesRead More

COVID-19 illustration, CDC, via Wikimedia Commons

Three Reasons To Stay Home (If You Can)

March 18, 2020 at 1:36 pm

Nova Scotia’s long-term care facilities are closed to visitors, casinos are closed, public schools are closed and as of tomorrow restaurants will be restricted to take-out only and “drinking establishments” will also close. Why? To try to stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndromeRead More

Students reading in class, Leflore County Schools. (Carl Albert Research and Studies Center, Congressional Collection / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Educated for Life?

March 8, 2020 at 12:35 pm

As of this writing, elementary and high school teachers in Ontario are embroiled in an escalating dispute with Premier Doug Ford’s government. Teachers have held a number of one-day strikes and, I understand, have many more planned. While the government has been putting forward a narrative that consists of theRead More

Two trams, Adelaide, Australia. Photo by Henk Graalman - From the photographer, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79354067

Pros and Cons (and Future) of Trams

February 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Writing in the Guardian in 2015, Sean Marshall dated the rebirth of the tram (which he, being a Toronto native, calls a “streetcar”) to the 1980s, although initially this took the form of “vintage” lines “mimicking New Orleans’ famous St Charles Streetcar line.” These heritage streetcars use antique or replicaRead More