Having already photographed Kempt Head, Cmdr. Chris Hadfield turns his attention to less important parts of Nova Scotia: Hadfield has now photographed both of Contrarian's official residences. The universe is unfolding as it should. [UPDATE] Oops! A Twitter user with a Suessian pseudonym points out that Hadfield passed over, and photographed, Halifax on January 2: [Click these images for larger versions.]...

When Dan Falvey, teaching assistant and journeyman Halifax bar server, died far too young last June, an exceptional outpouring of grief and affection marked the event. I never saw Dan in a school setting, but he served me many times. He was simply superb at a job that is too often under-appreciated for both difficulty and impact. Writing in the Coast, Tim Bousquet described him as "hands-down the most energetic server imaginable." Dan carried out all the basics with exemplary grace, and he was also wickedly funny. You looked forward to his visits to your table, because his dry, dead-pan humor, coupled with...

I have more reader mail on the furore around Rehtaeh Parsons' death and the factors that led to it. Once again, a few preliminary points. Rehtaeh's family and friends are going through an unimaginably horrible experience, one they have handled with grace and courage. The one point that united everyone in this case is sympathy for their ordeal. It bears repeating that, if you or anyone you know are having suicidal thoughts, please call the toll-free Kid’s Help Line at 1-800-668-6868 or the toll-free Suicide Prevention Line at 1-888-429-8167. Also please check out this website, and this list of warning signs. In a post on April 11, I raised...

In response to yesterday's post about Merriam-Webster's vocabulary quiz, on which 60-year-olds leave younger word-users in their dust, Contrarian readers of various vintage have shared their scores. In alphabetical order: Andy Weissman (70+) 3420 Andrew Bourke (40-something) 3700 Anna Daniels (20-something): 3660 Blair MacKenzie (30-something): 3720 Charlie Phillips (50-something) 3660 Contrarian (sexagenarian): 3660 David Rodenhiser (5040-something) 3960* Elaine Fournier (40-something) 3700 Greg Lukeman (30-something) 3900** Jeffrey Shallit (50-something) 3900 John Denault (70+) 3720 Mike Targett (30-something) 3760 Peter Spurway (50-something): 3860 Shelley Porter (40-something): 3140*** Stan Jones (70+) 3800 Steve Manley (30-something): 3480 Suzanne MacNeil (20-somthing): 3400**** * Current raw score leader, verified by screenshot. ** Current leader on an age-adjusted basis. *** Ms. Porter has filed a protest...

Most of the listeners who responded to my debate with CBC manager Andrew Cochran about the network's (in my view) inflated coverage of weather are just fine with the CBC's weather treatment. [caption id="attachment_11355" align="alignright" width="300"] Highway conditions at 3:30 pm, February 20, when Cape Breton schools closed early due to forecasts of possible freezing rain that evening: Pavement dry; precipitation nil.[/caption] This doesn't surprise me. Some people like being frightened about weather, just as others like being frightened about crime. Lurid coverage of crime by some media has led to a sharp increase in the public perception of personal risk from...

Visa has released a new iPhone app that uses survey data to help parents calculate the going rate for tooth fairy emoluments, based on a parents' gender, age, income, location, and educational attainment. The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal played with the app for a while and came up with in interesting discovery that doesn't really surprise me much: The smaller the amount I put in for household income, the greater the size of the average tooth fairy's gift. In fact, I was only able to get calculator to output $5 by setting my household income to $20k per year and selecting that my...

After just 17 days on Mars, NASA's Curiosity Rover has detected strong indications of life—and confirmed a familiar adage at the same time. Photo credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photo-enhancement credit: Peter Barss...